UN consulting on election mechanism for SC seat assured for India

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UNITED NATIONS: UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhamad-Bande is holding consultations on two possible ways of holding the elections for the non-permanent Security Council seats, one of which is assured for India, if the COVID-19 lockdown continues, according to his Spokesperson Reem Abaza. Muhamad-Bande has circulated the proposals from UN Secretariat for holding the elections due next month and held a virtual meeting on Thursday with leaders of the UN regional groups and officials.

Abaza said on Friday that Movses Abelian, the Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management, made a presentation on the possible options for elections.

She said that the options were being examined in case the shutdown of the UN headquarters because of the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging New York continues next month and in-person meetings remain suspended.

A decision on June meetings and they are to be held was expected soon, she said. The non-permanent seats are allocated on a regional basis and India has the unanimous support from the countries in the Asia Pacific region for the group’s seat that will fall vacant when Indonesia completes its two-year term at the end of this year.

China and Pakistan went along with the consensus because of the overwhelming support for India. This ensures India’s election but the formality of a voting in which all countries vote has to be gone through. One of the proposals calls for in-person voting with representative coming in batches during prearranged time slots in order to maintain social distancing and voting with paper ballots under the supervision of Secretariat staff.

Another is through online voting, which the Secretariat is looking into. Under this system, designated members of delegations will get a password by email or text message and will be able to vote through the system known as e-deleGATE portal. Unlike votes on resolutions, which are held openly, the elections to the Security Council, the International Court of Justice and the Economic and Social Council are by secret ballot.

Therefore, the proposal says, “All ballots will be automatically anonymised throughout the voting and counting process.” General Assembly members will have to agree to the election procedure.

For resolutions, the General Assembly has adopted a silent voting method. Resolutions or other decisions up for vote are circulated by the president and countries have a 72-hour window to register their objection and the matter is considered adopted if no one responds. But this method gives every country a potential veto because even one objection can derail a resolution.

When elected, India will join Vietnam that was elected last year on the Security Council as a non-permanent member from the Asia Pacific region. Mexico is running uncontested for the Latin America and Caribbean region’s seat. Kenya and Djibouti are facing off for the Africa seat, while Canada, Ireland and Norway are competing for the two seats for the Western European and Other countries.