Sunday, November 2, 2008

Uganda returns to UN Security Council

Uganda has secured the coveted seat as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for two years starting January 1, next year.

Security Council elections are held by secret ballot in the General Assembly in New York and a winning candidate requires a two-thirds majority of ballots of members present and voting. Formal balloting takes place even in those regions where there is only one declared candidate per available seat.

In the African category, Uganda received 181 votes from the 192 members of the General Assembly. Madagascar, which was not a declared candidate, received two votes.

Speaking after the voting, an ecstatic Francis Butagira, Uganda’s permanent representative to the UN told correspondents on October 17, that it is “a vote of confidence in our country Uganda and the success of our foreign policy.”

“We are looking to playing a dynamic role on the Council,” said Butagira, “We hope to play a very active role towards resolution of conflicts; our priority will be resolution of conflicts on the African continent.”

Uganda has served on the Security Council twice, in 1966 and in 1981. The Security Council is a powerhouse with the ability to impose sanctions and dispatch peacekeepers.

In the other regions, Mexico was the only declared candidate in the Latin American and Caribbean grouping, and it picked up 185 votes. Brazil received one vote and there were six abstentions.

Two declared candidates competed in the Asian category and Japan got 158 votes easily defeating Iran which picked 32 votes. In the Western European and Others group, three countries contested for two seats and Turkey and Austria beat Iceland.

The newly elected countries will replace Belgium, Indonesia, Italy, Panama and South Africa when their terms on the 15-member body expire at the end of this year.

The Council’s five other non-permanent members who were elected last year and whose terms end on December 31, 2009, are Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Croatia, Libya and Viet Nam.

The Security Council has only five permanent members with veto power, China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States. African leaders have for long been pressing for permanent seats with veto power, but disagreements came up on which countries to represent the continent as South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Libya and Egypt all wanted to take the seat.