Follow up on this month’s process

The Security Council Report (SCR) has provided a further analysis of this month’s process following Ambassador de La Sablière’s briefing last Wednesday. It looks at the letter submitted de La Sablière to UNGA President Jan Eliasson and notes several differences from the previously discussed “Wisnumurti Guidelines” (from 1996) and some of the initial interpretations of de La Sablière’s announcement.

The formal decision that candidates must be nominated by a member state will upset the commonly held wisdom that a dark horse will steal the nomination from those publicly known in advance. This should appease Canada, India and other middle powers concerned about the General Assembly’s inability to properly evaluate the Security Council nominee. 

However, the logistics of the voting will, while pushing the process in an overall positive direction, obscure each candidate’s level of support among the permanent members where it counts most. The decision to allow member states to abstain from indicating their support may allow second- and third-choice candidates to survive the initial rounds, but will also allow permanent members to mask their true preferences. The polling will be further complicated by the decision not to differentiate - as in the Wisnumurti Guidelines - between permanent and elected members in the voting. This will hide from the candidates the true political value of their vote tally.

That the candidates will be told their vote tallies and the tallies of the highest and lowest vote getters is a encouraging reform, but likely merely a response by the Council to the number of openly campaigning Asian candidates. In SCR’s consideration,

“…such an approach is most likely to contribute to a voluntary narrowing of the field. The indicative scores, given privately to candidates, along with the anonymous “highest” and “lowest” scores, are likely to show candidates if they have any realistic chance of success.”

The vote tallies will not officially be made public, but with a small number of candidates, it will probably not be too difficult for the sponsoring governments to interpret where their candidates fell in the ranking.

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