A banner, at right, in the United Nations Secretariat building lobby advertises India's candidature for the Asia Pacific Security Council seat in the elections scheduled to be held in June. (Photo: Arul Louis/IANS). Image Source: IANS News

United Nations, April 25 : India is assured of a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council next year, but the General Assembly leadership has to figure out how to conduct the election scheduled for June because member countries' delegates can't vote in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

General Assembly President Tijjani Muhamad-Bande's spokesperson Reem Abaza said on Friday that a decision has not yet been made about holding the election.

It will be taken up at the end of this month when decisions will be made on June events or the opinion of members will be sought about them, she said.

The non-permanent seats are allocated on a regional basis and India has unanimous support from the countries in the Asia-Pacific region for the group's seat that will fall vacant when Indonesia completes its two-year term at the end of this year.

China and Pakistan went along with the consensus because of the overwhelming support for India.

This ensures India's election but the formality of an election in which all countries vote has to be gone through.

With the UN headquarters shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the General Assembly has not been able to hold in person meeting of delegations.

For essential matters, a silent voting method has been adopted by which countries have a 72-hour window to register their objection and if no one responds, the resolution is considered adopted.

But this method gives every country a potential veto because even one objection can derail a resolution. Therefore, its use is very limited.

Abaza said that an e-voting system is under consideration for holding recorded votes so that a majority can get a resolution through even if some object.

Because of the consensus requirement, the General Assembly this week rejected two resolution on the COVID-19 crisis -- one sponsored by Russian because of opposition from the US and its allies, and another sponsored by Saudi Arabia due to objections by Syria and Iran.

Under the normal voting system, either of them would have had a chance of being adopted.

Elections are conducted by secret ballot and the document for the e-voting proposal says it is not for elections.

Therefore, a different system incorporating secure secret ballots will have to be devised for the elections.

When elected, India will join Vietnam that was elected last year on the Security Council as a non-permanent member from the Asia Pacific region.

Mexico is running uncontested for the Latin America and Caribbean region's seat.

Kenya and Djibouti are facing off for the Africa seat, while Canada, Ireland and Norway are competing for the two seats for the Western European and Other countries.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at arul.l@ians.in and followed on Twitter @arulouis)

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