Norway, Ireland win UN council seats in vote amid pandemic

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Norway and Ireland won contested seats on the powerful United Nations (UN) Security Council on Wednesday in a series of UN elections held under dramatically different voting procedures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the most closely watched race, Canada lost out to the two European countries for two Western seats on the 15-member council. It was Canada’s second consecutive defeat in a bid for a seat and a blow to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In the other contested race, neither Kenya nor Djibouti received the required two-thirds majority in voting in the 193-member General Assembly and Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande announced that a second ballot will be held.

In previous years, ambassadors from all UN member states have gathered in its vast chamber to vote by secret ballot, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the world body to adopt new rules.

In Wednesday’s voting, a two-thirds majority of 128 votes was required to win a Western seat and Norway received 130 votes, Ireland got 128 votes and Canada 108 votes. India ran unopposed for the Asia-Pacific seat and received 184 votes and Mexico ran unopposed for the seat for Latin America and the Caribbean and got 187 votes.

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg said her country would use its experience from many years of engaging in peace and reconciliation efforts “to build bridges and seek solutions to the seemingly intractable conflicts that appear on the Security Council’s agenda”.

“The world needs more international cooperation to promote peace and security,” she said.

Speaking in Dublin, Ireland’s Prime Minister said its victory “underpins Ireland’s place in the world as a global island, with a clear and tangible ambition to play a central role in contributing to international peace and security”.

In the other elections, Volkan Bozkir of Turkey was elected President of the 75th session of the General Assembly which begins in September.

The post rotates annually by region and he was the candidate of the Western Europe and other states group. Greece, Cyprus and Armenia asked for a vote rather than electing him by consensus.

The 18 candidates for seats in the Economic and Social Council all ran unopposed and were elected.