Vietnam elected to Asian seat on UN Security Council

By Arul Louis United Nations, June 8 (IANS) Vietnam has been elected unopposed to the Security Council on behalf of the Asian countries in an election that could reshuffle the dynamics of the UN’s highest body that is already paralyzed on many important issues like Syria, Yemen and Venezuela.

Petit Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday became the smallest nation elected to the Council, when it defeated El Salvador for the Latin American and Caribbean seat.

While Tunisia and Niger were elected unopposed to the Africa seats, Estonia defeated Romania for the East European representation.

Saint Vincent will replace Peru and Vietnam will replace Kuwait in January 2020 in a reshuffle of the dynamics in the Council. Peru, like Kuwait, was closer to the US on many issues on the Council but their successors are more independent like non-permanent members South Africa and Indonesia.

Vietnam’s Permanent Representative Dang Dinh Quy said his country’s election represented the recognition of the principles of independence and cooperation that guide its foreign policy.

He told reporters that his country would work to meet not only the traditional challenges, but also the emerging non-traditional challenges to international security,

As a nation that has emerged from decades of war, Vietnam would contribute to the Council from its experience of rebuilding, and specifically dealing with landmines, which are a deadly problem in many areas.

Next year Vietnam will join Indonesia, which was elected last year, giving ASEAN two non-permanent seats.

The 10 non-permanent members on the 15-member Council are elected to two-year terms taking into account regional representation in staggered polls usually for five seats every year.

In a last-minute surprise, El Salvador unsuccessfully challenged Saint Vincent, which was the unanimous choice of the Caribbean and Latin American group having staked its claim to this year’s election a decade ago.

El Salvador ‘s sudden entry into the race highlighted the differences between the Latin American states that like the US overwhelmingly want Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro removed from office and the Caribbean nations group known as CARICOM that oppose outside interference in Venezuela.

But El Salvador’s challenge failed to even make a symbolic dent, getting only six votes, while Saint Vincent received 185.

Saint Vincent has a population of only 109,000 – less than that of a small Indian city like Phagwara or Narasaraopet – but at the UN it is equal to all countries that are not permanent Council members, even those several times its size like even India that is 11,000 times more populous.

Saint Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said that his country would uphold the equality of states in the UN. A priority for the nation would be action on climate change, he added.

On Venezuela, he reiterated his country’s and CARICOM’s commitment to non-interference and non-intervention and said change should come about peacefully through dialogue.

(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)>–IANS

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