This Is A Big Deal: Malaysia Will Now Have A Say In The UN Security Council

Following a 15-year absence, Malaysia returns to represent Asia Pacific in the UN Security Council after winning a non-permanent seat in the 15-member council.

Cover image via The Star Online

Malaysia is set to represent the Asia Pacific region in the UN Security Council after clinching a non-permanent seat in the council, securing 187 out of 192 votes

This will be Malaysia's fourth term in the 15-member council, having held a UNSC non-permanent seat for the first time in 1965 followed by subsequent elections in 1989/1990 and 1999/2000.

The voting took place at the United Nations General Assembly hall to fill five vacancies among the Security Council’s non-permanent membership. A total of 193 representatives of UN member countries were eligible to cast their votes to elect the five new members of the council.

The election is a gratifying result following months of intense lobbying by Wisma Putra to secure one of the five arising vacancies out of 10 non-permanent seats

Malaysia's Foreign Minister Anifah Aman waits for the announcement of Malaysia's election into the UN Security Council. The country ran for an Asian seat unopposed.

Image via UN Photo/Mark Garten

The five seats available for election in 2014, distributed regionally, are: one seat for the African Group (currently held by Rwanda); one seat for Asia-Pacific Group (currently held by the Republic of Korea); one seat for the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, (currently held by Argentina); and two seats for the Western European and Others Group (currently held by Australia and Luxembourg).

Why this is a big deal: The Security Council is the most powerful body in the UN and is primarily responsible for maintaining international peace and security. The council also has the power to impose sanctions on countries and individuals, refer suspects for war crimes prosecution, endorse peace accords and authorise the use of force.

Najib addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York on 28 September 2013.

Image via Reuters

The council's powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions; it is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.

Aside from Malaysia, four other countries have been elected to fill the vacant seats, namely Angola (Africa), Venezuela (Latin America and the Caribbean), as well as New Zealand and Spain (Western European and Others Group)

U.N. representatives for Venezuela, including Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez, right, celebrate after being elected to a two year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council on Thursday.

Image via Getty Images/Spencer Platt

New members will assume duty on 1 January 2015 and continue to serve in the council until 31 December 2016, alongside the five permanent council members and remaining non-permanent members

Heads of state vote on a resolution during a UN Security Council meeting, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014, at the United Nations.

Image via AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

The five permanent Council members, which each wield the power of veto, are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Along with Lithuania, the non-permanent members that will remain on the Council until the end of 2015 are Chad, Chile, Jordan, and Nigeria.

PM Najib Razak described the win as "extremely meaningful" and attributes it to Malaysia's moderate stance and the international community's acceptance of the country's principle-based foreign policies

Image via The Star Online

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said he believed the international community reacted positively to Malaysia's policies, its responsible approach to issues and principle-based measures. "They know we absolutely reject extremism which I made very clear in my speech at the United Nations last month," he told reporters in Milan, Italy on Friday.

Najib has also outlined Malaysia's five priorities as a UNSC council member:

To advance moderation globally; advocate mediation as an approach to conflict resolution; promote UN peacekeeping operations; facilitate the peace-building process in strife-torn countries and pursue deliberations on the UNSC's comprehensive reformation.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (right) shakes hands with Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi during the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Milan October 16, 2014.

Image via Reuters

Najib also expressed his appreciation to Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin and Wisma Putra officials for their role in garnering support for Malaysia.

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