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The five will join the 15-nation body responsible for maintaining international peace. Pixabay

Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Vietnam were elected Friday to two-year terms on the U.N. Security Council.

The five will join the 15-nation body responsible for maintaining international peace and security on Jan. 1, 2020.

There is usually little suspense in the General Assembly for the vote, as regional groups typically pre-select a candidate from within their bloc to run uncontested. This year, Tunisia, Niger and Vietnam ran unopposed.

So did Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, until just hours before Friday morning’s vote, when El Salvador announced it would challenge the tiny island nation for the one open seat in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Vietnam were elected Friday. VOA

Diplomats expressed surprise ahead of the vote as to why El Salvador would come in at the last minute, when the regional bloc had agreed in December to put up Saint Vincent as their candidate.

“You don’t do it like that,” one western diplomat said disapprovingly.

Most other countries appeared to agree, with El Salvador winning only six of the 193 votes cast.

Eastern Europe did run a contested race this year, endorsing two candidates, Estonia and Romania.

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Estonia, which joined the U.N. in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, has never served on the Security Council. It beat four-time council veteran Romania after two rounds of ballots, exceeding the necessary two-thirds majority needed.

Member states cast secret ballots and candidates must win a two-thirds majority of votes to succeed, even if they are running uncontested. Candidate countries cap off their often years-long campaigns with parties in the lead-up to the vote.


“I want to reiterate that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines views this as an historic occasion,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told reporters after the election. “We are the smallest country ever to be elected as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.”

There is usually little suspense in the General Assembly for the vote.

The island nation has a population of just 110,000.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has aligned with the Maduro regime in Venezuela.

“Non-interference, non-intervention, peaceful settlement of serious difficulties pertaining to governance,” the prime minister said when asked what his government’s policy is toward Venezuela.

Vietnam had nearly unanimous support in the General Assembly, winning 192 of 193 votes.

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“As Vietnam went through decades of war, we hope that we can bring to the council the experience of Vietnam, the country that has been able to rebuild after the war and deal with many other issues,” said the president’s special envoy Le Hoai Trung.

Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui said his nation would try to be a “bridge builder” on the council and contribute to trying to solve some of the most important peace and security issues.

Council dynamics

“With the election of Saint Vincent and Vietnam, the Security Council could tilt a little towards China and Russia next year,” said Richard Gowan, U.N. Director, International Crisis Group. “Saint Vincent has stuck with Maduro in Venezuela, and Vietnam hews to a pretty robust anti-Western line in U.N. debates.”

Tunisia and Niger will represent Africa on the council. Gowan told VOA they could figure prominently if Libya and the Sahel continue atop the agenda.

“It will be hard to ignore their views on issues like the spillover of violence from Libya and the worsening security situation in Burkina Faso,” he said.

The five new council members will replace Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Kuwait, Peru and Poland, whose terms end Dec. 31, 2019.

They will join the other non-permanent members — Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Indonesia, and South Africa — as well as the permanent five members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. (VOA)


Photo by Flickr

Israeli Ambassador Naor Gilon said that the Pegasus snooping issue is India's internal matter.

Israeli Ambassador Naor Gilon on Thursday said that the Pegasus snooping issue is India's internal matter.

The NSO is a private company and it has a license to sell its software to the government entities only, he added.

Gilon said: "This is an internal issue of India and I can't speak beyond this point. This is the only main requirement that... under the requirements, they cannot sell it to non-governmental actors".

Responding to a query if the Indian government will contact them, he said that he has no idea whether the Indian government has contacted them or not.

Referring to the explosion that took place last year near the Israeli embassy in Delhi, he said that the perpetrators are yet to be nabbed; however, the investigating agencies of both countries are cooperating with each other.

"We are thankful to the government of India for providing security to all embassy personnel," Gilon said.

Talking about the newly-formed quad with Israel, India, the US, and UAE, the Ambassador said it is totally an economic forum based on mutual cooperation among the participant countries.

"It has nothing to do with the military component as of now," he added.

Talking about Afghanistan, Gilon said that the country should not be used for extremism.

"There should not be any human rights violation and women and children should not suffer there", he commented.

Saying that Israel is a technologically sound country but it cannot go for industrial manufacturing, the partnership between India and Israel can work better for industrial productions.

Sharing the details of the recently-concluded visit of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, he said that the visit was most successful in terms of bilateral relations.

Jaishankar met all important Ministers of the Israeli government and also met the Indian Diaspora, the Indian Jews who have recently settled there.

"It was a very warm visit, very friendly which I think emphasized the strategic partnership declared during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Israel. I think that the visit was in the spotlight of 30 years of diplomatic relations which we are going to celebrate on January 29 next year," Gilon added. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Israel Politics, Indian Diaspora, Pegasus issues, Pegasus snooping issue, a partnership between India and Israel.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The Sher Bahadur Deuba governmentrecommended veteran diplomat Shanker Sharma as the next ambassador to India.

The Sher Bahadur Deuba government on Thursday recommended veteran diplomat Shanker Sharma as the next ambassador to India.

Sharma earlier served as Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission and Nepal's Ambassador to the United States of America from 2009 to 2013.

The post in the New Delhi embassy of Nepal fell vacant recently after Deuba recalled the ambassadors from 12 countries including India. The outgoing ambassador, Nilamber Acharya has already returned to Kathmandu.

Sharma has extensive experience in government, international institutions, and economic research. Before joining the National Planning Commission as a member in 1997, he worked as a Senior Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance, Nepal; a Senior Economist in the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore; and a Fellow in the East-West Center, Hawaii. He also served as a Professor of Economics in the Centre for Economic Development and Administration, Tribhuvan University.

He worked regionally and globally for many organizations, such as the UNESCAP, World Bank, and ASEAN. Sharma is close confident of Prime Minister Deuba. (IANS/JB)

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Photo by Flick

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that 2022 will be celebrated as the friendship year for India and ASEAN countries

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday announced that 2022 will be celebrated as the friendship year for India and ASEAN countries as both have completed 30 years of partnership.

The event will coincide with India's celebrations of the 75th year of Independence from the colonial regime, he added.

While participating in the 18th edition of the India-ASEAN Summit, Modi said, "India is committed to deepening its relations with the next presidency, Cambodia and country-coordinator Singapore."

"History is witness to the fact that India and ASEAN have had relations for thousands of years. India-ASEAN relations are reflected in everything, including in our shared values, traditions, languages, scriptures, architecture, culture, food," the Prime Minister noted.

Speaking about the Covid pandemic which engulfed the whole world, he further said that the Covid period was also a test of India-ASEAN friendship. "Our mutual ties in the Covid time will keep strengthening our corporations in future and form a base for goodwill between our people," Modi added.

He further said that the unity and centrality of ASEAN have always been a priority for India and history has witnessed the fact that "we have had ties since thousands of years," he said.

The Prime Minister also said that India's Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) and ASEAN's Outlook for the Indo-Pacific are the framework for their shared vision and mutual cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

During the Summit, the head of the member states will review the progress of India and ASEAN Strategic Partnerships which was signed in 2012. They will also review the progress achieved in the sectors like Covid-19, health, trade and investment, connectivity, education among others, the officials of India's Ministry of External Affairs said. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: India, and ASEAN partnership, COVID-19, India, and ASEAN, India, and history, Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative.