The UAE, Albania, Brazil, Ghana and Gabon were on Friday elected to serve on the UN Security Council for two-year terms beginning next year in a vote in which all candidates ran unopposed.
Each candidate needed two-thirds of the votes in the 193-nation UN General Assembly’s secret ballot. The UAE received 179 votes. Albania got 175 votes, compared to 181 for Brazil, 185 for Ghana and 183 for Gabon.
The UAE, Albania and Brazil were the only candidates from their respective regions. Ghana and Gabon won the two seats allocated to Africa after the Democratic Republic of the Congo withdrew from the race.
The 2022-2023 term will be the UAE’s second stint on the council after serving from 1986-1987. Brazil has served on the council 10 times, and Gabon and Ghana three times each. Albania has never served on the council.
Candidates for uncontested seats still seek high vote tallies on election day and spend months rallying friends and allies.
The 15-nation Security Council has 10 seats for temporary members but is dominated by its five permanent (P5) members – Russia, China, the US, Britain and France – which hold the power of veto.
The council meets regularly on threats to international peace and security and makes the ultimate decisions on resolutions imposing international sanctions, authorising use of military force and launching peacekeeping missions.
Its case file includes Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Lebanon, Ukraine, Ethiopia, North Korea and other hotspots, as well as the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iranian weapons programmes.
To be adopted, council resolutions need at least nine votes in favour and no vetoes from permanent members.
The council is often deadlocked on issues where the permanent members disagree, such as Syria, Myanmar and Ukraine.
It has been criticised for failing to act quickly in a crisis, notably during months of gridlock last year as Covid-19 crossed borders and as the US under former president Donald Trump sparred with China over the origins of the pathogen.
The UAE’s journey back to the council has been years in the making.
Its candidacy was endorsed by the Arab League in 2012 and by the UN group of Asia-Pacific nations last year.
In an interview ahead of the vote, the UAE’s ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibeh told The National the seat was a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” for the Emirates to play a bigger role in world affairs.
The UAE, one of a dwindling number of countries to have good relations with both the US and China, pitched itself as a “bridge-builder” in a world that is increasingly strained by great power competition.
The Emirates also pledged to push the council to do more to tackle terrorism and climate change and to ensure women play a bigger role in peacekeeping missions and are better protected in war zones.
The UAE has moved to newer offices to host its bigger diplomatic mission to the UN in New York’s midtown area.
More than half of the team will be women, Ms Nusseibeh said, including herself and one of her deputies.
The UAE mission on Thursday announced that Mohamed Abushahab would serve as a deputy ambassador.
The vote came amid headline-grabbing initiatives by the UAE, which has in recent months established diplomatic ties with Israel and launched a Mars probe, is hosting the world fair in Dubai in October and is bidding to host major climate talks in 2023.
“Last time we were on the council was 30 years ago, so it’s really a once in a generation opportunity,” Ms Nusseibeh said ahead of the vote.
“It really fits in with what is happening at home in terms of our golden jubilee, putting up the first Arab interplanetary mission to Mars, opening our first nuclear reactor, putting ourselves forward to host COP28 [climate change talks] and shouldering regional responsibility.”