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UN General Assembly begins key elections; India set for comfortable victory


United Nations, June 17: The UN General Assembly has begun elections for President of the 75th session of the Assembly, five non-permanent members of the Security Council and members of the Economic and Social Council on Wednesday under special voting arrangements put in place here due to COVID-19 related restrictions.

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India is expected to register a comfortable victory in the Security Council elections that will bring the country to the UN high-table as a non-permanent member for the 2021-22 term.

India's victory is certain since it is the sole candidate vying for the lone seat from the 55-member Asia-Pacific grouping.

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

    President of the UN General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande announced the commencement of the elections at around 9 am Wednesday. UN diplomats, staff and other personnel arrived at the General Assembly hall wearing masks and immediately left the venue after casting their ballots.

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    In previous years, the General Assembly hall was packed to capacity during the elections as UN diplomats and officials participated in the ballots.

    In adherence to social distancing guidelines due to COVID19 pandemic, the 193 UN Member States have been allotted different time slots to cast their ballots next week in the General Assembly Hall for the crucial elections.

    Eight time slots have been allocated to Member States to cast their ballots in the General Assembly Hall starting at 9 AM, in adherence to social distancing guidelines.

    The voting will continue till 1 pm with an additional 30 minute time slot for voters who are unable to visit the GA hall during the specific time slot communicated to them. The time slot for India to cast its ballot is 11:30 am-12noon.

    Muhammad-Bande is overseeing the proceedings in the General Assembly Hall and the tellers are also observing the whole process. On Monday he circulated a letter to Member States with the names of candidates for the various elections.

    For the two vacant seats from among the African and Asia-Pacific States, three candidates have been communicated, namely, Djibouti, India and Kenya. Of those three candidates, India and Kenya are endorsed candidates.

    For the one vacant seat from among the Latin American and Caribbean States, one endorsed candidate has been communicated, namely, Mexico.

    For the two vacant seats from among the Western European and other States, three candidates have been communicated, namely, Canada, Ireland and Norway. 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 as follows: 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.

    To be elected to the Council, candidate countries need a two-thirds majority of ballots of Member States that are present and voting in the Assembly. India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti has said that India's presence in the Security Council will help bring to the world its ethos of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, as he underscoring that the United Nations as well as multilateralism need to change to reflect contemporary realities and remain credible as the world organization marks its 75th anniversary this year.

    "India's journey with the United Nations is quite a remarkable one. As a founding member of the United Nations, India's contribution to implementing the goals of the United Nations Charter and to the evolution of UN specialized agencies and programmes has been substantial. In many ways, quite extraordinary,” Tirumurti said in a video message ahead of the elections.

    "I'm confident that at a time when we are poised to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and later the 75th anniversary of India's independence in 2022, India's presence in the Security Council will help bring to the world our ethos that the world is one family - Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” he said.

    Ahead of the elections, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar outlined New Delhi’s priorities for its candidature to the Council. Termed as NORMS, India’s focus will be on 'New Orientation For A Reformed Multilateral System.’

    India’s priorities include new opportunities for progress, effective response to international terrorism, reforming multilateral systems, comprehensive approach to peace and security and technology with a human touch.

    Tirumurti said as the UN commemorates its 75th anniversary this year, “it is clear to us that United Nations and indeed multilateralism itself need to change to reflect contemporary realities to enable them to remain effective and credible.”

    The Indian envoy referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for reformed multilateralism and reform of multilateral system as essential to ensure that the international system is inclusive and caters to requirements of all countries, which will in turn facilitate stronger action.

    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.

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