UN Security Council Seat undecided

While four non-permanent seats in the United Nations Security Council were declared for  General Assembly election winners Belgium, Indonesia, Italy and South Africa, the seat destined for a member of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States is still in debate. The newly elected non-permanent members will begin their two-year terms starting the first day of 2007.  The two major contenders for the Latin American seat have been Venezuela and Guatemala, and winner will replace Argentina, whose term expires on 31 December. "We’re not competing with our brother country," said Venezuela’s U.N. Ambassador Francisco Arias Cardenas. "We are competing with the most powerful country on the planet in its own house." President Chavez has stated that a Venezuelan seat would be used to speak out against the US.  This has lead to heavy US support for Guatemala, and US and US ally arguments that a Venezuelan seat would undermine the credibility of the council and prevent important work from being done.  Some analysts think that the intensive anti-Venezuelan campaign might have back-fired on the US, creating more support for Venezuela.

Although Guatemala led in Monday’s elections (Oct. 16, 2006), neither country received the necessary 2/3 majority during voting rounds in the General Assembly. This opens the election to other candidates, including Costa Rica, Panama and Uruguay, continuing balloting until a State achieves the required majority.   Most likely, diplomats will now look for a compromise candidate to break the deadlock. BBC correspondent Laura Trevelyn has compared the high level drama of the race to the 1979 race in which Cuba ran against Colombia during the Cold War.  In that case, Mexico was chosen as a compromise.  

"We are going to continue and we are going to call on countries of dignity, strength, independence and autonomy, which is what the United Nations needs right now," Arias Cardenas said.