Issue 2 - 13 November 2006 - ECOSOC to Have 21 New or Renewed Members on 1 January 2007

New York, 13 November 2006 -

The election of 18 new members to the U.N. Economic and Social Council was completed on 8 November.

Background:

The election procedures follow the General Assembly’s Rules of Procedure. Election requires a two-thirds majority and the largest number of votes. Members hold terms of three years, and membership can be renewed immediately after it expires on December 31.

With a total of 54 members, 18 seats are either renewed or newly elected each year according to geographical representation, as follows:

African States: 14 seats

Asian States: 11 seats

Eastern European States: 6

Latin American and Caribbean States: 10

Western European and Other States: 13

Current Election:

When the elections began on 2 November the number of official candidates matched the number of seats available for the African, Asian, and Western European and Others groups. Therefore, the following states were endorsed by their regional groups and elected without a contest:

African States (5 seats): Algeria, Cape Verde, Malawi, Somalia, Sudan

Asian States (4 seats): Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Philippines (Myanmar/Burma received one vote)

Western European and Other States (4 seats): Canada, Luxembourg, Netherlands, United States of America (Spain received one vote)

For the group of Latin American and Caribbean states, three seats were available. Barbados, Bolivia, and El Salvador received over the two-thirds support (at least 128 affirmative votes) in the first round, while Argentina received only 120 and therefore was not elected.

For Eastern Europe, there were three candidates for the two seats available, and no winner emerged after the first round of balloting. Romania and Bulgaria were the highest-scoring candidates, with Belarus in third place. A series of restricted and unrestricted votes followed in which Belarus’ support grew until it reached 123 affirmative votes on the last ballot of the day. The required two-thirds majority was 128.

On 7 November the ninth inconclusive vote occurred, but Belarus led Bulgaria (114-76). Bulgaria then made a statement noting that their bid had not found sufficient support among the membership and that the government of Bulgaria had decided to withdraw its candidature “in the spirit of goodwill and cooperation.”

The last ballot was taken, in which Belarus exceeded the required two-thirds majority with 156 votes, and Bulgaria received 12.

These eighteen new members will join ECOSOC on 1 January 2007 to replace the states whose terms expire at the end of 2006.

Also on 2 November, Spain relinquished its unexpired seat for the remainder of its term in favor of Portugal, and Turkey relinquished its seat to Greece. This created two vacancies for the two years from January 2007 until December 2008, which needed to be filled via election for another member from the respective regions. Later that day Australia relinquished its seat in favor of New Zealand for the remaining one year of its membership, January-December 2007.

Portugal and Greece both were elected on the first round of balloting on 2 November, and New Zealand was elected in the first round on 7 November.

Coming Up:

These three states will also join ECOSOC on 1 January 2007, for a total of 21 new or renewed members. However, at least two of these are long-standing and frequent members of ECOSOC – Canada has held a seat since 1981, except for only two years (2002-2003), and the United States has held a seat continually since 1946. Due to membership being renewable immediately after each term expires, with no limits, some states effectively have been able to hold near-permanent membership on the Council.

Useful Resource:

This table prepared by Global Policy Forum shows each country’s membership in ECOSOC country since 1997. It does not include countries that have never held membership.