The U.N. General Assembly has decided to hold elections for the five non-permanent members of the Security Council next month under the new voting arrangements due to the COVID-19 restrictions, with India assured a win being the sole contender for the Asia Pacific seat.

Also read: Analysis | India’s campaign for permanent seat at UNSC slowing down

The 193-member General Assembly adopted the decision on Friday titled ‘Procedure for holding elections by secret ballot without a plenary meeting during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic’

According to the decision, the elections of non-permanent members to the Security Council and the election of members to the Economic and Social Council will be held simultaneously in June 2020 without a plenary meeting.

Election for the five non-permanent members of the 15-nation council for the 2021-22 term was originally scheduled on June 17.

India is a candidate for a non-permanent seat and its victory is assured as it is the sole candidate vying for the lone seat from the Asia Pacific grouping.

New Delhi’s candidature was unanimously endorsed in June last year by the 55 members of the Asia-Pacific grouping, including China and Pakistan.

From India’s perspective, any change in the voting method will not impact its chances. The term is to start in January 2021.

Traditionally, the UNSC elections are held in the General Assembly hall with each of the 193 member states casting its vote in a secret ballot.

Now, large in-person meetings at the world body’s headquarters stand postponed till the end of June due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the new voting arrangement, President of the General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande will circulate a letter to all Member States at least 10 working days prior to the first round of the secret balloting, informing them of the date on which the elections will be held, the number of vacant seats, the venue where ballots may be cast and other logistical details.

On the day of the elections, the voter will be required to visit the designated venue during a specific time slot to cast its ballots.

Only ballots cast in the ballot boxes at the designated venues will be accepted and no ballots would be accepted after the last time slot has expired.

If the total number of ballot papers cast in all the ballot boxes do not amount to at least a majority of the members of the Assembly, the President would circulate a letter to all Member States indicating a new date and time for the elections.

The General Assembly President will circulate a letter to all Member States informing them of the results once the voting is complete and the ballots counted.

Canada, Ireland and Norway are vying for two seats in the Western Europe and other countries category.

Mexico is the only candidate for the one Latin America and Caribbean seat and Kenya and Djibouti will contest the seat available for the African group.

Previously, India has been elected as a non-permanent member of the Council for the years 1950-1951, 1967-1968, 1972-1973, 1977-1978, 1984-1985, 1991-1992 and most recently in 2011-2012.

India has been at the forefront of the years-long efforts to reform the Security Council, saying it rightly deserves a place as a permanent member of the Council which in its current form does not represent the geo-political realities of the 21st Century.

Each year the General Assembly elects five non-permanent members (out of 10 in total) for a two-year term.

The 10 non-permanent seats are distributed on a regional basis — five for African and Asian States; one for Eastern European States; two for the Latin American and Caribbean States; and two for Western European and other States.

The decision to hold the UNSC elections was adopted through a silence procedure, under which if no Member State raises any objections to the draft within a specified time period, the president of the General Assembly will circulate a letter confirming adoption of the text.

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