Italy, Netherlands duel for UN Security Council seat

New York June 29:Five non-permanent seats were up for grabs on June 28 in the vote by the 193-nation UN General Assembly, three of which were filled in a first round of secret ballot voting.

Italy and the Netherlands squared off for a UN Security Council seat after Kazakhstan was elected to the powerful council for the first time and Bolivia, Ethiopia and Sweden won spots.

Five non-permanent seats were up for grabs on June 28 in the vote by the 193-nation UN General Assembly, three of which were filled in a first round of secret ballot voting.

Kazakhstan beat out Thailand in a second round, picking up 138 votes against 55 for Thailand and winning a council seat for the first time since its 1991 independence from the Soviet Union.

But after five rounds of voting, the Netherlands and Italy both fell short of the required majority, standing neck and neck at 95 votes each.

It remained unclear how many rounds would take place to fill the remaining council seat.

In 1979, UN delegates voted 154 times in a contest between Colombia and Cuba before finally electing Mexico as a compromise candidate in the 155th round.

Italy has lobbied fiercely for a council seat, portraying itself as a crossroads country in the Mediterranean and touting its experience dealing with the refugee crisis.

The European country is also seen as a player in efforts to pull Libya out of chaos.

The Netherlands, home to the International Criminal Court and other world tribunals, has played up its commitment to international justice.

Applause rang out at the assembly hall after Sweden’s victory was announced.

Among the world’s top aid donors, Sweden garnered 134 votes, scoring an outright win.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said she was “happy and proud” to see her country join the UN’s top table, pledging to focus firmly on conflict resolution.

“With 40 conflicts and 11 full-blown wars, it is a very, very worrisome world that we have to take into account,” Wallstrom said.

Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrissov said “we are very proud to be the first central Asian country to serve on the council” and pledged to focus on nuclear non-proliferation and development.

Close to Russia, Kazakhstan gave up its nuclear arsenal after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

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