UNITED NATIONS: Estonia, Niger, Tunisia, Vietnam and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines were elected to the UN Security Council on Friday (Jun 7) as the top UN body struggles to agree on how to confront global conflicts.
The five newcomers will join the council in January for a two-year stint, replacing Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kuwait, Poland and Peru.
The election comes at a time of diplomatic deadlock at the council, which has been unable to agree on a response to several crises, from Syria to Myanmar, Venezuela or Sudan.
Five countries - Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States - have a permanent seat on the 15-member council and enjoy veto power over any decisions.
The 10 other non permanent members are elected for two-year terms to serve on the UN's most powerful body, tasked with addressing threats to international peace and security.
During a secret ballot at the General Assembly, Estonia squared off with Romania for the eastern European seat while Saint Vincent and the Grenadines faced a last-minute challenge from El Salvador for the Latin America seat.
The three other countries ran unopposed, having been selected as the candidate of their regional bloc.
Vietnam picked up 192 votes, Niger and Tunisia 191 votes each and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines won 185 votes against six for El Salvador during the ballot in the 193-member assembly.
Estonia won a seat with 132 votes during a runoff with Romania, which picked up 58.
It will be the first time that Estonia, which made cyber-security its campaign plank, will serve on the council as will Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which has pledged to push for action on climate change.
UN expert Richard Gowan said the election of the five new members could exacerbate divisions.
"I think we are going to see quite a strong anti-Western group in the council, which could lead to more fiery diplomacy and make it harder for the US and its allies to push their resolutions through New York," said Gowan, UN director for the International Crisis Group.
"Vietnam and St Vincent seem likely to side with the Chinese and Russians on issues like Venezuela, as Indonesia and South Africa have already done this year."