Brazil, Nigeria, Lebanon, Gabon and Bosnia were elected Thursday to non-permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council. They will serve two-year terms starting January 1st and will participate in decisions ranging from deploying U.N. peacekeepers to imposing sanctions.
This year's vote lacked the suspense of some previous elections, because all five candidates were unopposed and succeeded in getting the two-thirds majority required in the first round of secret ballots.
Brazil received the support from 182 out of 190 UN country members with seven abstentions and one vote for Venezuela.
Brazil joins the council for the 10th time. It is a founding member of the United Nations and was part of the first group elected to the Security Council in 1946. It last held the bench in 2004/05.
The fact that there was no competition for the Latin America seat following Mexico's unopposed nomination last year seems to signal that the region wants to avoid sour disputes as happened in 2006 with Guatemala and Venezuela.
UN members had to vote 48 times to try and achieve the necessary two thirds and the dispute was finally agreed with the nomination of Panama as a consensus candidate.
Brazil is also lobbying strongly for a UN reform that would expand the permanent members of the Security Council incorporating regional representatives, which obviously would include Brazil and probably Mexico.
Ten of the council's 15-seats are filled by regional representatives for two-year terms. The other five seats are permanent ones held by veto-wielding members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.
British Ambassador John Sawers said the additions to the council will make it even stronger.
"We have two large countries in Brazil and Nigeria who carry the weight of being a regional power," he said. "We have two countries in Lebanon and Bosnia who have been through conflict and can bring their own national experiences to the Security Council."
Lebanon and Bosnia and Herzegovina are in the unusual position of also being on the council's agenda.
Bosnia is a multiethnic country still recovering from the war that accompanied the break-up of Yugoslavia. It has experienced internal divisions and rising tensions in the past year, as major political parties struggle to agree on a basic political structure.
Bosnian Foreign Minister Sven Alkalaj said the current political crisis would not adversely impact its role on the council or prevent it from taking common positions.
"The situation in Bosnia is going to be stable, it is now stable. What is happening now is some political crisis that also happens elsewhere in world," he said.
Lebanon has one of the largest UN peacekeeping forces in the south of its country. It is also the subject of a UN-backed tribunal which is considering indictments in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Internal divisions have prevented the formation of a new government following June elections.
One council diplomat said Lebanon could prove to be something of a wild card on Middle East issues – particularly Iran's nuclear ambitions. He noted that if the Iranian dossier comes back to the council for possible sanctions, Lebanon, which will likely have members of Iranian-backed Hezbollah's political wing in its next government, could have a conflict of interest and choose to abstain from voting.
Nigeria has served three times before. Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe said his country would work to prevent crises and conflicts, deal with human rights issues and generally promote international solidarity.
"We intend that working with all the other members of the U.N. Security Council," he said. "Our preventive diplomacy will be central to our approach to a lot of issues."
Nominations for non-permanent seats are not required and countries simply announce their intention to run. Consideration is given to an equitable geographical distribution and a candidate's contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security.
The five new members are replacing outgoing council members Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Croatia, Libya and Vietnam. In addition to the five permanent council members, they will join Austria, Mexico, Japan, Turkey and Uganda on the 15-member council.
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