India endorsed for non-permanent seat at UNSC: how are countries elected?

In News:

  • India’s candidature for a non-permanent seat in the Security Council has been endorsed unanimously by the Asia Pacific group for a 2-year term in 2021-22.
  • Elections for five non-permanent members of the 15-nation Council for the 2021-22 term will be held around June 2020.

What does endorsement means?

  • The endorsement means that India has a “clean slate” candidature (no other contestant from the group) for the elections that will be held for five non-permanent members next year.


About United Nations Security Council (UNSC)

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  • The United Nations is one of the organs of the United Nations, which came into being in 1945, following the devastation of the Second World War.
  • Its main aim is maintenance of international peace and security.
  • Powers:
    • Establishment of peacekeeping operations,
    • Establishment of international sanctions,
    • Authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions
  • It is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.


  • Currently the U.N. Charter provides for 15 members on the UNSC with 5 permanent members known as P5 and 10 non-permanent members.
  • While the P5 including United Kingdom, China, France, Russia and the U.S are permanent members having veto power over decisions of UNSC, the non permanent members, have a 2-year term, with five elected by the General Assembly..


UNSC non- permanent membership:

  • Each year the 193-member General Assembly elects five non-permanent members out of the ten for a two-year term at the UN high-table while the 10 non-permanent seats are distributed on a regional basis
    • 5 for African and Asian countries (3 are for Africa and 2 for Asia)
    • 1 for Eastern European countries;
    • 2 for Latin American and Caribbean countries;
    • 2 for Western European and other countries.

Note: There is an informal understanding between the Africa and Asia to reserve one for an Arab country. The Africa and Asia Pacific group takes turns every two years to put up an Arab candidate.

  • Region wise selection based on year: even or odd
    • In even numbered years, two African members, and one each within Eastern Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean are selected.
    • In odd numbered years, two Western European and Other members, and one each from Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean are selected.
  • Currently the 10 non-permanent members are Belgium, Cote d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Germany, Indonesia, Kuwait, Peru, Poland and South Africa.

Member selection from Asian countries:

  • The Asia-Pacific grouping has a system of contest.
  • When contested, the elections for non-permanent seats can be fraught and can go on for several rounds.
  • Irrespective of whether a country is a “clean slate” candidate and has been endorsed by its group, it needs to secure the votes of two-thirds of the members present and voting at the General Assembly session (a minimum of 129 votes if all 193 member states participate).
  • Formal balloting takes place at elections to all the main UN bodies.

Note: There are 55 countries that comprise the Asia -Pacific group. 

News Summary:

  • The development is particularly significant given that all countries in the 55-member Asia-Pacific Group including Pakistan and China (which India has had diplomatic challenges at the UN), supported the move.
  • The 55-member Asia-Pacific Group gets to nominate one of its members for the June 2020 elections to a non-permanent seat on the UNSC.
  • No challenges to India’s candidacy are expected with regard to acquiring the support of other UN members.
  • India will need the vote of two-thirds of the 193 UN General Assembly members to win a non-permanent seat on the UNSC.

India as a non-permanent member:

  • India has been a non-permanent member of the Security Council eight time previously i.e. in 1950-51, 1967-68, 1972-73, 1977-78, 1984-85, 1991-92 and 2011-12.
  • India has been keen to hold the seat in 2021-22 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Independence in 2022.


  • The position would help India push more aggressively for the long pending UNSC reforms.
  • It will give India a chance to protect its interests and place issues that are important to it within the content of negotiated documents.
  • It will give India an opportunity to build a coalition of states and present a united position on a given issue that is on the Council’s agenda.
  • It can play an important role in matters concerning terrorism activities.


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