Diplomats at the United Nations chose Mexico, India, Ireland and Norway in elections held Wednesday to fill upcoming vacancies on the Security Council, the most powerful authority in the 193-member global organization, which turns 75 years old this October.

Canada, which competed in a three-way race with Norway and Ireland for two of the vacancies, failed to gain the minimum 128 votes required. Norway won 130 and Ireland 128.

Mexico and India ran unopposed for the vacant seats allocated to their geographic regions.

Five of the 10 nonpermanent seats in the 15-member council were up for election to two-year terms, starting Jan. 1. Results for one of the seats, representing the Africa region, was a tossup between Kenya and Djibouti, with neither receiving the required minimum. A second round of voting to decide the winner was set for Thursday.

Canada also lost its bid in 2010 to join the Security Council. This year’s defeat came despite the recruitment of Celine Dion to promote the country’s candidacy to U.N. voters.

The elections were conducted under stringent rules this year for the first time because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has left much of the United Nations headquarters complex in New York closed to all but essential workers at least through July. Ambassadors who ordinarily would congregate in the General Assembly hall for the voting were instead admitted a few at a time in a staggered system, dropping secret ballots in a box and leaving.

A seat on the Security Council is considered a coveted honor in international diplomacy. Council members have a prominent voice on issues of peace and security, including the wars in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, the nuclear weapons harbored by North Korea, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and armed extremist groups like the Islamic State and Al Qaeda.

The council’s resolutions are binding, even if many go unenforced. It also is the only U.N. body authorized to approve the use of military force, and is empowered to refer cases of genocide and other crimes against humanity to the International Criminal Court for prosecution.

  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 16, 2020

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      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

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      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

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Nonetheless, the council has been chronically paralyzed over the years by deep divisions, frequently pitting two of the permanent members, Russia and China, against their Western counterparts, Britain, France and the United States. Unlike nonpermanent members, the so-called P-5 have veto power to defeat resolutions they deem objectionable.

The voting on Wednesday also included the selection of a new General Assembly president, Volkan Bozkir, a Turkish diplomat, who ran unopposed and will take over from Tijjani Muhammad-Bande of Nigeria at the 75th annual session that begins in September. Precisely how that session will be conducted, given the health risks from the coronavirus pandemic, has not yet been announced.

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