BY ARUL LOUIS
United Nations, June 17 (IANS) Voting began on Wednesday morning for the five non-permanent seats on the Security Council, one of which is assured for India with the unanimous backing of the Asian Pacific group.
Delegates of the 193-member nations came to the General Assembly chamber in batches of 20 to maintain social distancing and filled in paper ballots after Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande declared the voting open at 9 am (6:30 pm IST).
The results from the secret ballot are expected around 2 pm (11:30 pm IST).
India is running on a platform of fighting terrorism and having a commitment to multilateralism and an equitable international system.
In a campaign document, India laid out a “5S” approach of Samman (respect), Samvad (dialogue), Sahyog (cooperation) Shanti (peace) and Samriddhi (prosperity).
When elected, India will begin a two-year term on the highest decision-making body of the UN on January 1 joining Vietnam as one of the two non-permanent Asian members and replacing Indonesia that will complete its tenure at the end of this year.
Its election to the Security Council will come as India is entangled in a heated territorial confrontation with permanent member China, which is also the patron on Pakistan on the Council.
India will step into a Council Chamber next year paralysed by the polarisation of its veto-wielding permanent members that almost harks back to the Cold War era.
It will have to deftly deal with intractable issues like the Syrian civil war with international dimensions, Ukraine’s disputes with Russia, the US — or President Donald Trump’s — obsession with Iran or its fallout, and Yemen.
But at least when China tries to bring up the Kashmir issue in the Council as it has done twice recently, India will be right there.
Elections will also be held simultaneously for the president of the next session of the General Assembly that starts in September and for the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Volkan Bozkir, a Turkish diplomat and politician, is running unopposed for the presidency as are the 18 countries for that many vacancies on the ECOSOC.
The ten non-permanent Security Council seats are distributed among five regional groups and elections are held every year for the five that fall vacant on alternate years.
Mexico, which has the unanimous backing of the group for the Latin American and Caribbean, is assured of the seat.
But there are contested elections for the three others.
For the African seat, Djibouti is running against Kenya, which has the unanimous backing of the group.
Kenya is almost certain to get the African seat with the endorsement of the continent’s countries, while Djibouti is counting on a rift between the Arab and non-Arab nations in the group.
Canada, Norway and Ireland are contesting the two seats allotted to the group made up of West European countries and others like Canada and Australia that do not fit in elsewhere.
A two-thirds majority is required for election and additional rounds will be held if candidates don’t get it the first time around.
Extra rounds, which will be held on subsequent days, are likely for the West Europe and Others seats, which are very competitive.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau phoned India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday to canvass New Delhi’s vote for his country.
Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide had a video conversation with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar last Friday.
Ireland, which is led by Indian-origin Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, is not known to have contacted India in recent days to seek its vote.
When elected, it will be India’s eighth stint on the Council.
Its last term was in 2011-12 and Hardeep Singh Puri, who was then India’s Permanent Representative and now a minister, immediately planned to bid for it next term not wanting a long gap like the 19 years since the previous 1991-92 tenure.
Intense diplomacy by him and his successor, Asoke Mukerji, sealed India’s bid for the 2021-22 term.
Afghanistan had initially expressed interest in running for the 2021-22 term but did not pursue it, leaving the field for India.
The groundswell of support for India in Asia Pacific group made Pakistan and China fall in line, making it a unanimous endorsement.
(Arul Louis can be reached atAarul.firstname.lastname@example.org)