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9 June 2022

Chapter 3:   THE PEOPLE

Section 3:   Elected members


Significant drop, since 2000, in number of States never elected to the Security Council

When the millennium began on 1 January 2000, out of then 191 UN Member States,[1] eighty had never served on the Security Council. By 9 June 2022, the date of the most recent Council elections, twenty additional countries have been elected as first-time members. They are (with year of election):


Albania (2021)

Azerbaijan (2011)

Bosnia and Herzegovina (2009)

Chad (2013)

Croatia (2007)

Dominican Republic (2018)

Equatorial Guinea (2017)

Estonia (2019)

Guatemala (2011)

Kazakhstan (2016)

Lithuania (2013)

Luxembourg (2012)

Mozambique (2022)

Qatar (2005)

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (2019)

Saudi Arabia (2013)[2]

Singapore (2000)

Slovakia (2005)

Switzerland (2022)

Viet Nam (2007)[3]


Of these first-time Council members, eight were – at the time of their election – relatively new UN Members States. Seven of these were previously part of larger countries. Four were former republics of the Soviet Union: Azerbaijan, Estonia, Kazakhstan and Lithuania. Two were constituent parts of the former Yugoslavia: Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia. Slovakia was formerly one half of Czechoslovakia. Switzerland became a UN member state in 2002 after a national referendum.


Two other first-time members were elected to the Council after they emerged from instability in the aftermath of previous conflict situations: Chad and Viet Nam.3 A number of the other first-time members have been relatively small States which, in the view of their governments and the UN membership, had come to possess sufficient capacity to serve on the Council. 


Only two of these first-time members – Guatemala and the Dominican Republic – were previously unsuccessful candidates. In 2006, after a three-week deadlock in the General Assembly between Guatemala and Venezuela, both countries withdrew so that Panama could be elected as a compromise candidate to fill the seat accorded to their region. The Dominican Republic lost elections in 1982 (to Nicaragua), in 2001 (to Mexico), and in 2007 (to Costa Rica), before being elected in 2018. 


The attached table shows, by region, the 61 UN Member States which, following the 2022 elections, will not have served on the Security Council as of 2023. The regional group with the highest number of States never having served is Asia-Pacific, i.e., 28 States out of the 53 members in the group eligible for election to the Council. The regional groups which have the lowest number of States never having served on the Council are Eastern Europe (seven out of 22 eligible States) and Western European and Other States (six out of 26 eligible States). The tally for all UN regional groups is as follows:


Africa: 9 out of 54

Asia-Pacific: 28 out of 53[4]

Eastern Europe: 7 out of 22[5]

Latin American and Caribbean States: 11 out of 33

Western European and Other States: 6 out of 26[6]


By 2026, the number of States never having sat on the Council may further diminish. That is because at least two countries which have not yet served have announced their candidacies for elections by then:


Tajikistan (2023)

Latvia (2025)


Depending on the outcome of these upcoming elections, by 2025, it is likely that only 59 or 60 Member States will have never been elected to the Council. Thus the ratio of those having never served would drop from 42 percent of the total UN membership in 2000, to around 30 percent in 2026. 


As described in the book (page 141), there are a few countries not likely to be elected to the Security Council in the near future because they are directly involved in situations presently on the Council’s agenda. These include Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Haiti, Myanmar and South Sudan. 


Some very small countries, especially small island developing States, are also unlikely to seek a Council seat in the near future, owing to the diplomatic and financial resources necessary for such a demanding responsibility. However, an increasing number of small States are showing a willingness to take on the heavy workload of Council membership. These include Saint Vincent and the Grenadines which, with a population of 111,617, is the smallest country ever to have been elected to the Council. And it is noteworthy that this trend of smaller States seeking Security Council seats is occurring during a period when the Council’s formal and informal work programmes have continued to expand.


The growing interest among a broader range of Member States to become candidates for Council seats is, to a degree, already reducing the frequency with which other countries are able to return to the Council. In particular, this may mean in future that larger States which have served multiple terms may not have the opportunity to be re-elected as often as before. 


It remains to be seen whether the number of States never having served on the Security Council will continue to drop after 2026, or whether it will reach a plateau and stabilize there.


[1] Montenegro joined the UN in 2006 and South Sudan, in 2011.

[2] After the election, Saudi Arabia declined to take up the seat, to which Jordan was subsequently elected.

[3] Viet Nam was then elected to a second term in 2019.

[4] China belongs to this group but, as a permanent member, has not been counted in the total number of Member States eligible for election to the Security Council. The Observer State of Palestine, although belonging to the group, is not a full UN Member State and therefore is not eligible for election to the Council. 

[5] The Russian Federation belongs to this group but, as a permanent member, has not been counted in the total number of Member States eligible for election to the Council.

[6] France, the United Kingdom and the United States belong to this group but, as permanent members, have not been counted in the total number of Member States eligible for election to the Council.

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