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Five countries gain uncontested seats on U.N.'s most powerful panel

The U.N. General Assembly elected Denmark, Greece, Pakistan, Panama and Somalia to the Security Council.

The Security Council chamber at U.N. headquarters in New York
The Security Council chamber at U.N. headquarters in New York (AN/J. Heilprin)

In an uncontested slate, five newcomers won election to the 15-member United Nations Security Council for two-year terms starting on Jan. 1.

Denmark, Greece, Pakistan, Panama, and Somalia gained seats in a secret ballot vote on Thursday among the U.N. General Assembly's 193 member nations. Though they each ran unopposed, the candidates must still gain the support of more than two-thirds of the assembly.

Denmark garnered 184 votes, followed by Panama, 183, Greece and Pakistan, 182 each, and Somalia, 179.

The five newcomers will replace outgoing council members Ecuador, Japan, Malta, Switzerland and Mozambique when they fulfill their two-year terms at the end of this year.

Starting in 2025, Denmark, Panama, Greece, Pakistan and Somalia will join the five other non-permanent members – Algeria, Guyana, Sierra Leone, Slovenia and South Korea – that began this year.

'Historic victory for the Somali people'

Ethiopia's Institute for Peace and Security Studies, or IPSS, congratuled war-torn Somalia on gaining a non-permanent council seat for the first time since 1972.

"This historic victory for the Somali people and its government could potentially enable significant opportunities to advance its national interests, including reaffirmation of sovereignty, enhanced security cooperation, and institutional strengthening," said Abdifatah Googe, executive director of the Addis Ababa-based IPSS, who called the election "a momentous change in the nation's troubled past."

The ten non-permanent council seats that rotate according to annual elections in the assembly are allocated to regional groups, ensuring some geographical representation.

The other five, which come with veto power, permanently belong to China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The council, which is supposed to help maintain international peace and security, alone has the power to legally binding decisions like imposing sanctions and authorizing use of force.

In recent years, however, it often has been stalemated by rising tensions between China, Russia and the U.S.