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U.N. votes in 5 new Security Council members

Five nations won seats on the U.N. Security Council for the next two years, putting them in a position to influence global policies on peace and security.

The U.N. Security Council chamber featuring a mural with the image of a phoenix rising in wartime
The U.N. Security Council chamber featuring a mural by Norwegian artist Per Krohg with the image of a phoenix rising in wartime (AN/C.K. Hartman)

UNITED NATIONS (AN) — Five nations won seats on the U.N. Security Council for the next two years, putting them in a position to influence global policies on peace and security at a time of war in Europe and major crises spanning the globe.

Ecuador, Japan, Malta, Mozambique and Switzerland gained seats on the United Nations' most powerful arm for 2023 and 2024. All of them ran unopposed but still had to gain the backing of at least two-thirds of the 193-nation U.N. General Assembly to be elected on Thursday.

After delegates cast secret ballots, General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid announced the results: Ecuador, 190 votes; Japan, 184; Malta, 185; Mozambique, 192; and Switzerland, 187.

They will take their seats on a 15-nation council that gives five member nations — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — permanent veto-wielding seats, reflecting a global power structure from the immediate post-World War II era. The other 10 non-permanent seats are divvied up among the rest of the world for two-year stints.

At the top of the council's agenda is the Russia's February 24 invasion of Ukraine, which has been the subject of numerous, heated council debates though Russia has used its veto power to deter council action. Council discussions over Ukraine have focused on the humanitarian and political ramifications, including the potential for nuclear, biological or chemical weapons to be used. Other major concerns include conflicts and threats involving Afghanistan, Iran, Mali, Myanmar, North Korea, Syria and Yemen.

Five nations are elected each year from different regions to provide geographical diversity. The five new council members will replace India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico and Norway, whose two-year terms will be completed at the end of this year.

Working for peace

For Japan, this will be their 12th time serving on the council. For Ecuador and Malta, this will be their fourth and second time, respectively. And for Mozambique and Switzerland, this will be their first time on the council. It was only 20 years ago that the neutral Swiss first joined the United Nations."This is a very important day for Switzerland," Swiss President Ignazio Cassis told reporters after the election. "I'm very happy to enjoy this moment because we wanted to be part of the solutions for this world. We want to contribute to peace, stability and wealth in the world."

Fighting terrorism and violent extremism is a prominent issue that featured prominently in the candidacies of some nations, such as Malta and Mozambique, that won seats starting in 2023. Malta's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Ian Borg called it a historic day for his nation.

"This is a clear reflection that the principles and priorities that underpin both Malta's foreign policies as well as our successful Security Council bid strongly resonate with the international community," he told reporters. "Malta's aspiration to serve on the council stems from our willingness to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security in a meaningful manner."

Mozambique's Foreign Minister Veronica Macamo told reporters through a translator that as the African Union-endorsed candidate, her nation will serve as a channel to bring to the council "all the concerns and challenges that Africa faces, and we hope to be giving and providing our best contributions toward the solutions of these problems that affect not only Africa but the entire world."

The newest five members will join the other five non-permanent members: Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana and United Arab Emirates.

Only Brazil and Japan have served 10 or more terms as a non-permanent council member. On the flip side, nearly a third of the U.N.'s member nations — 62, including Mozambique and Switzerland — have never held a council seat before.