Press Releases

GA/9940
29 October 2001

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ELECTS 18 NEW MEMBERS
TO UN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL

To Serve Three-Year Terms Beginning 1 January 2002;
In By-Election, Spain to Take Over Seat Vacated by Portugal

NEW YORK, 26 October (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly this morning elected 18 countries to fill vacancies on the Economic and Social Council -- Australia, Bhutan, Burundi, Chile, China, El Salvador, Finland, Ghana, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Libya, Qatar, Russian Federation, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Zimbabwe. They will serve for a three-year term starting 1 January 2002.

In a by-election to the Council, the Assembly chose Spain to take over Portugal’s Council seat for the year 2002.

Four seats had to be filled from among the Group of African States, four from Asian States, three from Eastern European States, three from Latin American and Caribbean States, and four from Western European and Other States. The Group of African States had endorsed Burundi, Ghana, Libya and Zimbabwe; the Group of Eastern European States endorsed Hungary, Russian Federation and Ukraine, and the Group of Western European and Other States endorsed Australia, Finland, Sweden and United Kingdom.

Non-endorsed candidates among Asian States were Bhutan, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Myanmar and Qatar; and among Latin American and Caribbean States they were Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala and Haiti.

In other matters, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to provide updated information regarding candidates, new candidates and withdrawals in a consolidated list for the election of 34 members of the International Law Commission, scheduled for Wednesday, 7 November 2001. The representative of the Sudan drew the Assembly’s attention to the fact that the Group of African States was entitled to nine seats, and not to eight as suggested in some documents.

The Assembly will next meet on Tuesday, 30 October, at 10 a.m. to take up the report of the International Court of Justice.

Background

The General Assembly met this morning to elect 18 members of the Economic and Social Council and to consider documentation for the election of the members of the International Law Commission.

Election of 18 Members of Economic and Social Council

The 18 members of the Economic and Social Council must be elected to fill seats being vacated by Bolivia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Indonesia, Morocco, Norway, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Kingdom and Venezuela on 31 December. A retiring member is eligible for immediate re-election. The elected members will serve a term of three years.

The non-retiring members of the Council are: Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Austria, Bahrain, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, France, Georgia, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, Malta, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Uganda and the United States.

In accordance with rule 92 of the Assembly’s rules of procedure, the election is held by secret ballot and there are no nominations. Under rule 83, the members of the Economic and Social Council are elected by a two-thirds majority. By resolution 2847 (XXVI), the 54 members of the Council should include 14 members from African States, 11 from Asian States, 10 from Latin American and Caribbean States, 13 from Western European and Other States, and six from Eastern European States.

In addition, the President of the Assembly has received a letter dated 11 October from the Permanent Representative of Portugal (document A/56/467) announcing that Portugal would like to relinquish its seat on the Council for the year 2002 in favour of Spain.

The Economic and Social Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and coordinates the economic, social and related work of the organization and the specialized agencies and institutions. Through its discussion of international economic and social issues, and its policy recommendations, the Council plays a key role in fostering international cooperation for development and in setting priorities for action.

Election of Members of International Law Commission

The Assembly was also expected to take up the matter of documentation for election of members of the International Law Commission, which is scheduled to take place on the morning of Wednesday, 7 November.

Election to International Law Commission

The President of the Assembly, HAN SEUNG-SOO (Republic of Korea), informed members about the election of 34 members of the International Law Commission, which was to be held Wednesday, 7 November 2001. The names of the candidates and statements of their qualifications could be found in a document (A/56/117 and Corr.1) by the Secretary-General. Subsequent to the deadline, the Secretary-General had received additional information, including new candidatures, as well as withdrawals. The Assembly decided to request the Secretary-General to issue such a consolidated list, including new information regarding candidatures.

MUBARAK HUSSEIN RAHMTALLA (Sudan) noted that this time the Group of African States was entitled to nine seats, and not to eight as was stated in some documents, because the one rotating seat in the Commission this time fell to Africa.

Election to Economic and Social Council

In a letter, the Permanent Representative of Portugal had announced that his country would relinquish its seat on the Economic and Social Council for the year 2002 in favour of Spain. As a result, a new member had to be elected to fill the unexpired term of office of Portugal for one year, beginning on 1 January 2002. Since the vacancy occurred among the Western European and Other States, the new member was to be elected from that region.

The results of the voting were as follows:

Number of ballots: 176
Number of invalid ballots: 22
Number of valid ballots: 154
Abstentions: 5
Number of members voting: 149
Required two-thirds majority: 100

Number of votes obtained:
Spain: 149

Having obtained the required two-thirds majority, Spain was elected a member of the Economic and Social Council for a one-year term, beginning on 1 January 2002.

Before proceeding to the election to fill vacancies on the Economic and Social Council, the President informed the Assembly that, according to paragraph 4 of Assembly resolution 2847 (20 December 1971), four members should be elected from the Group of African States, four from Asian States, three from Eastern European States, three from Latin American and Caribbean States, and four from Western European and Other States.

The Group of African States had endorsed Burundi, Ghana, Libya and Zimbabwe as candidates.

For the four vacant seats from among Asian States, there were six candidates -- Bhutan, China, Democratic Republic of Korea, India, Myanmar and Qatar. (Uzbekistan had informed the President it withdrew its candidature.)

The Group of Eastern European States had endorsed Hungary, Russian Federation and Ukraine for the three vacant seats.

There were four candidates for the three vacant seats from among the Latin American and Caribbean States: Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala and Haiti.

The Group of Western European and Other States had endorsed Australia, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom for the four remaining vacant seats.

The results of the first round of secret balloting were as follows:

African States

Number of ballots 177
Number of invalid ballots 0 Number of valid ballots 177
Number of Abstentions 4
Number of Member States voting 173
Majority required - two-thirds 116

Number of votes obtained:
Burundi 170
Ghana 168
Libya 163
Zimbabwe 162
Zambia 2
Congo 1
Democratic Republic of the Congo 1
Gabon 1
Gambia 1

States Asian

Number of ballots 177
Number of invalid ballots 1
Number of valid ballots 176
Number of Abstentions 0
Number of Member States voting 176
Majority required – two-thirds 118

Number of votes obtained:
Bhutan 146
India 145
Qatar 142
China 134
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 64
Myanmar 56
Indonesia 1
Lebanon 1

Eastern European States

Number of ballots 177
Number of invalid ballots 1
Number of valid ballots 176
Number of Abstentions 3
Number of Member States voting 173
Majority required – two-thirds 116

Number of votes obtained:
Hungary 170
Russian Federation 168
Ukraine 161
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 3

Latin American and Caribbean States

Number of ballots 177
Number of invalid ballots 0
Number of valid ballots 177
Number of Abstentions 0
Number of Member States voting 177
Majority required – two-thirds 118

Number of votes obtained:
Chile 140
El Salvador 135
Guatemala 125
Haiti 108
Ecuador 3
Grenada 1
Nicaragua 1
Panama 1
Trinidad and Tobago 1

Western European and Other States

Number of ballots 177
Number of invalid ballots 1
Number of valid ballots 176
Number of Abstentions 8
Number of Member States voting 168
Majority required - two-thirds 112

Number of votes obtained:
Australia 168
Finland 167
United Kingdom 167
Sweden 165

Having obtained the required two-thirds majority, the following were elected:

-- Burundi, Ghana, Libya and Zimbabwe were elected from among African States;
-- Bhutan, China, India and Qatar from among Asian States;
-- Hungary, Russian Federation and Ukraine from among Eastern European States;
-- Chile, El Salvador and Guatemala from among Latin American and Caribbean States; and
-- Australia, Finland, Sweden and United Kingdom from among Western European and Other States.

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