New Zealand has been elected as a member of the United Nations Security Council for a 2015-16 term. The campaign for this election began in 2004 under the leadership of then Prime Minister Helen Clark, and has been a bipartisan effort. The lobbying our representatives have put in, and our independent reputation has seen us elected with a strong majority by the UN member states.
What is the Security Council?
The Security Council is the body of the United Nations which has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, so it has the power to authorise peacekeeping missions, military action and international sanctions. The UN Charter gives the Security Council the sole power to approve military action.
How do you get elected to the Security Council?
There are five permanent members of the Council: China, France, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom. Another ten members are elected for two-year terms with rolling elections each year. The non-permanent members are elected on a regional basis (from the UN’s five regions). New Zealand forms a part of the “Western European and Others” (WEOG) group, which gets two seats, up for election when the term starts in an odd-numbered year.
New Zealand was up against Turkey and Spain for the two seats allocated to WEOG. To be elected, a two-thirds majority of the 193-member UN General Assembly was required. On the first round, New Zealand received more than needed – 145 votes. After a second round of voting, neither Spain nor Turkey had the two-thirds required. On the third round, Spain recieved 130 votes and was elected.
Angola, Malaysia and Venezuela were elected representing the African, Asian and Latin American groups for the 2015-16 term.
What happens now?
Jim McLay, a former Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney-General and National Party leader is New Zealand’s Ambassador to the United Nations, so he takes the primary responsibility for representing New Zealand on the Security Council, though the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign affairs may attend for major decisions or ceremonial occasions.
The Security Council will have to face issues like the threat of ISIS, the Ebola epidemic and others as they arise.