October 17, 2013
UNITED NATIONS — Saudi Arabia and Chad easily won coveted seats on the U.N. Security Council Thursday, despite criticism from human rights groups that their rights records are abysmal. Nigeria, Lithuania and Chile also won seats.
The five candidates endorsed by regional groups faced no opposition because there were no contested races for the first time in several years.
Security Council seats are highly coveted because they give countries a strong voice in matters dealing with international peace and security, in places like Syria, Iran and North Korea, as well as the U.N.’s far-flung peacekeeping operations.
The five countries elected Thursday will assume their posts on Jan. 1 and serve through the end of 2015. They will replace Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo.
Philippe Bolopion, United Nations director for Human Rights Watch, denounced the election of Chad, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.
“Chad should put an end to the recruitment of child soldiers, which earned it a spot on the U.N. list of shame,” he said. “Saudi Arabia should end its crackdown on human rights activists and grant women their full rights.”
Hillel Neuer, executive director of Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch, accused Saudi Arabia of denying women the right to vote, drive a car or travel without the permission of a male relative. He also accused it of “praising and shielding Sudan” whose president, Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
Neuer said Chad should not have oversight on U.N. peacekeeping operations as long it employs child soldiers.
Chad’s Foreign Minister Moussa Faki told reporters that election to the council is “recognition of the role of Chad in peace and security in the African region.” Chad has protested its inclusion in the “list of shame,” saying it has worked aggressively with the U.N. to end child soldier recruitment and has made significant progress.
He expressed hope that working with other members Palestine will be able to establish an independent state, which he called “the core issue of the difficulties in the Middle East.” He also expressed hope that the Syrian people will achieve “their aspiration for freedom and prosperity and unity.”
“We’ll talk for Africa,” she said. “The African issues are the majority of issues facing the United Nations Security Council today.”
Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, called on the new council members “to consistently utilize their position to prevent atrocities and protect vulnerable populations.”
Chad, Saudi Arabia and Lithuania have never served on the U.N.’s most powerful body while Nigeria and Chile have both been on the council four times previously.
This year, there were initially two candidates for a West African seat but Gambia dropped out last week in favor of Nigeria.
In the first round of voting by the 193-member General Assembly, Lithuania was the top vote-getter with 187 votes followed by Nigeria and Chile with 186 votes, Chad with 184 votes and Saudi Arabia with 176 votes. A two-thirds majority of those voting was needed to win.
The 15-member council includes five permanent members with veto power — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France — and 10 nonpermanent members elected for two-year terms.
“The prestige of a seat at the world’s foremost diplomatic table should prompt the new members to get their house in order,” he told the Associated Press.
The three countries did not address their critics in welcoming their victories.
Original URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/nigeria-chad-saudi-arabia-lithuania-and-chile-virtually-certain-to-join-un-security-council/2013/10/17/4a10071e-36e2-11e3-89db-8002ba99b894_story.html