‘TUG-OF-WAR’ BETWEEN GUATEMALA AND VENEZUELA FOR SECURITY COUNCIL SEAT LOOSENS; PANAMA STEPS IN, RECEIVES GENERAL ASSEMBLY MAJORITY AFTER 48 SECRET BALLOTS

7 November 2006
GA/10528

‘TUG-OF-WAR’ BETWEEN GUATEMALA AND VENEZUELA FOR SECURITY COUNCIL SEAT LOOSENS; PANAMA STEPS IN, RECEIVES GENERAL ASSEMBLY MAJORITY AFTER 48 SECRET BALLOTS

7 November 2006
General Assembly
GA/10528
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-first General Assembly

Plenary

49th Meeting (AM)

‘TUG-OF-WAR’ BETWEEN GUATEMALA AND VENEZUELA FOR SECURITY COUNCIL SEAT LOOSENS;

PANAMA STEPS IN, RECEIVES GENERAL ASSEMBLY MAJORITY AFTER 48 SECRET BALLOTS

Belarus Fills Open Seat on Economic and Social Council,

As Bulgaria Withdraws Candidacy after Ninth Balloting Round

After 48 rounds of voting, the drawn out contest in the General Assembly for the rotating Latin American seat on the United Nations Security Council came to an end today, with Venezuela and Guatemala dropping their competing bids in favour of a compromise candidate, Panama.

The three-week tug-of-war between Guatemala and Venezuela over the seat, currently occupied by Argentina, ended with polite applause when Assembly President, Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa of Bahrain, read out the final tally: Panama had received 164 votes in the 192-member world body, more than the two-thirds majority needed to join the Council on 1 January 2001; Venezuela got 11 votes; Guatemala 4 votes; and Barbados 1 vote.

Sheikha Haya told the Assembly that she had received a letter dated 3 November from the Chairman of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC) informing her that senior Guatemalan and Venezuelan officials had decided to withdraw their country’s respective candidacies in favour of Panama, which was subsequently endorsed by the 34-member regional Group.  Today, she commended the Group for the spirit of solidarity and compromise that it had shown during the long exercise.

The contest began on 16 October as essentially a two-way race between Guatemala and Venezuela, and though other countries were nominated, including Barbados, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Jamaica, Mexico and Uruguay, none could muster the required majority to gain the seat.  Still, Guatemala handily out-polled Venezuela in all but one round, an early tie at 93 votes apiece.

Congratulating Panama on a dignified and respectful bid “worthy of endorsement”, Guatemala’s representative said, however, that the polarization of the three-week campaign to fill the open Council seat had been regrettable.  Guatemala -- which had announced its candidacy in 2002 -- had waited more than 60 years to participate in the Council, he said, and it had enough merits to do so.  That was why his country was presenting its candidacy for the 2012-2013 rotation, with the hope that the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States would endorse it on that occasion.

Venezuela’s representative said his country had sought the seat so as to be an independent voice on the Council.  The United States considered it a victory that a developing country like Venezuela had not gotten a position on that powerful body.  But, there should be no talk of victory or defeat, because there was a lesson to be learned from the 48 rounds of balloting, which proved the strength of the Assembly.  Panama was a bridge between Central and South America, and hopefully, it would be an independent, impartial and balanced Council member.

The 48 ballots held for this election marked the third highest ever for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council.  The second highest number of ballots was 52, set in 1960, after which the Assembly had agreed to allow Poland and Turkey to serve on the Council for one year each.  In 1979, there was a record 155 ballots, before Mexico was chosen from the Latin American and Caribbean Group to serve a two-year term on the Council.  Venezuela had been a member of the Council four times, and Panama three times, respectively.

On 16 October, the Assembly, following an agreed geographic allocation, elected Belgium, Indonesia, Italy and South Africa to serve as non-permanent Council members, starting 1 January of next year.  They will replace Denmark, Greece, Japan and United Republic of Tanzania when their terms end on 31 December.

The Security Council consists of five veto-wielding permanent members -– China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and United States -– plus 10 nations elected for two-year terms, with five replaced each year.  With the Council’s current composition, Congo, Ghana, Peru, Qatar and Slovakia will continue to serve as elected members during 2007 for the second year of their terms.  All new Council members will take their seats on 1 January 2007.

In other business today, the Assembly wrapped up its annual election of 18 States that would serve three-year terms on the Economic and Social Council, with the election of Belarus -– after Bulgaria withdrew its candidacy following the ninth round of balloting –- to fill one vacancy on the Council in the Eastern European States group.

The Assembly also held a by-election for the Western European and other States Group, and decided that New Zealand would fill a seat on the Council being vacated by Australia, which would finish a term ending 31 December 2007.

When the Assembly began secret balloting to fill vacancies in the Economic and Social Council last week on 2 November, it had also held a by-election for the Western European and other States Group, deciding that Greece and Portugal would replace Spain and Turkey, which had announced ahead of the election that they would leave their seats before the end of their respective terms, set to have continued through 31 December 2008.

Also that day, in one round of voting, the Assembly had elected 17 Member States for three-year terms.  Those were:   Algeria, Barbados, Bolivia, Canada, Cape Verde, El Salvador, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Malawi, Philippines, Romania, Somalia, Sudan and United States.  Their terms would commence on 1 January 2007 and end on 31 December 2010.

As of 1 January 2007, the remaining members of the Council would be Albania, Angola, Austria, Benin, Brazil, Chad, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, Germany, Greece, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Iceland, India, Japan, Lithuania, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Portugal, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Kingdom and the United Republic of Tanzania.

States were elected according to the following pattern:  five from Africa, four from Asia, two from Eastern Europe, three from Latin America and the Caribbean, and four from Western European and Other States.

All the regional groups had endorsed just enough candidates to fill the available seats, with the exception of the Eastern European States, and the Latin American and Caribbean States.

The Assembly will reconvene tomorrow at 10 a.m. to consider its agenda item on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba.

Background

The General Assembly met today to continue elections to fill a non-permanent seat on the Security Council and one on the Economic and Social Council.

On the Security Council vote, the Assembly resumed its sixth day of voting, and forty-eighth ballot round, to elect, from the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, the remaining non-permanent member of the Security Council for a two-year term beginning on 1 January 2007.  The other four countries -– Belgium, Indonesia, Italy and South Africa -– were elected on 16 October in a single round of voting.  (For details, see Press Release GA/10516 of 16 October.)

The vote on the Economic and Social Council was the Assembly’s second day of voting to complete a selection of 18 members of the Economic and Social Council by choosing a candidate from the Eastern European and Others Group.  The 18 are being elected to three-year terms beginning 1 January 2007.

A by-election would also be held to fill a seat on the Economic and Social Council being vacated by Australia, which would finish a term ending 31 December 2007.  (For details of the voting, see Press Release GA/10526 of 2 November).

Security Council Voting Results

The results of the balloting were as follows:

Forty-eighth Round of Balloting (Unrestricted)

Number of ballot papers:

190

Number of invalid ballots:

1

Number of valid ballots:

189

Abstentions:

9

Required majority:

120

Number of votes obtained:

Panama

164

Venezuela

11

Guatemala

4

Barbados

1

Having obtained the required two-thirds majority, and the largest number of votes, Panama was elected to the Security Council to begin a two-year term of office on 1 January 2007, along with the four other new non-permanent members of Belgium, Indonesia, Italy and South Africa.

Economic and Social Council Voting Results

Eastern European States

Since no candidate from the Eastern European Group had obtained the required two-thirds majority in a previous election, the Assembly moved to continue with a ninth round of restricted voting, limiting the vote to Belarus and Bulgaria, the two States that had received an endorsement to fill the remaining seat from that regional group.

The results of the balloting were as follows:

Ninth Round of Balloting (Restricted)

Total number of ballots:

192

Number of invalid ballots:

1

Number of valid ballots:

191

Abstentions:

1

Required majority:

127

Number of votes received:

Belarus

114

Bulgaria

76

Although no candidate obtained the required two-thirds majority, Bulgaria withdrew its candidacy, thus clearing the slate for the Assembly to continue with a tenth round of restricted voting.

The results of the balloting were as follows:

Tenth Round of Balloting (Restricted)

Total number of ballots:

191

Number of invalid ballots:

1

Number of valid ballots:

190

Abstentions:

22

Required majority:

112

Number of votes received:

Belarus

156

Bulgaria

12

Having received the required two-thirds majority, Belarus joined the 17 other Member States elected to serve three-year terms: Algeria, Barbados, Bolivia, Canada, Cape Verde, El Salvador, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Malawi, Philippines, Romania, Somalia, Sudan, and the United States.  Their terms would commence on 1 January 2007 and end on 31 December 2010.

Economic and Social Council By-Election Voting Results

The results of the balloting were, as follows:

Western European and Other States

Total number of ballots:

186

Number of invalid ballots:

1

Number of valid ballots:

185

Abstentions:

8

Required majority:

118

Number of votes received:

New Zealand

176

San Marino

1

Having received the required two-thirds majority, New Zealand was elected to finish out the remaining term vacated by Australia on the Economic and Social Council.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.