David Karp/AP

Austria, Turkey Join UN Security Council; Iran Rejected

October 17, 2008 02:04 PM
by Anne Szustek
Japan topped Iran for the open Asian slot on the 15-seat council, while Austria and Turkey beat out financially ravaged Iceland for the European seats.
Mexico and Uganda, which ran uncontested for their slots, are also among the new member countries of the 2009-10 UN Security Council. They, along with Austria, Turkey and Japan, are officially to assume their two-year posts on Jan. 1, replacing Indonesia, Panama, South Africa, Italy and Belgium.

Japan was considered by far to be the prevailing candidate for the Asian seat, owing to its spot as the second-highest contributor of UN funds and nine terms on the Security Council. Iran’s underdog position was weighed down further by past Security Council resolutions on its suspected nuclear program.

The Security Council is among the most powerful of the United Nations’ branches. The panel has the power to call peacekeeping and military operations, as well as institute sanctions. Permanent members on the board include the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and France. Each permanent member state has the power to veto any Security Council resolution.

In addition to the power and cachet accorded to Security Council member states, developing nations elected to the board stand to benefit financially: “Aid from the developed world tends to flow into these countries when they are in a position to help or hurt,” pointed out Al-Jazeera New York correspondent Kristen Saloomey. “One study showed that US aid increases by 59 per cent to countries when they serve on the Security Council.”

Iceland’s campaign to gain a European Security Council seat was marred by the country’s near-bankruptcy. The failure of Icelandic bank Landsbanki—and an initial lack of compensation for its British offshore depositors—resulted in a diplomatic crisis between Britain and Iceland.

The United Kingdom froze £4 billion (about $7.44 billion) in Landsbanki assets using anti-terrorism laws. Iceland attacked Britain, saying it was “bullying a small neighbor.” The U.K. Treasury made a £100 million (about $186 million) loan to the bank on Tuesday to shore up its lending lines and protect U.K. depositors.

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