NEW YORK - The U.N. General Assembly voted Friday to give two-year terms on the powerful 15-nation Security Council to five countries.
Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana and the United Arab Emirates all ran unopposed for available seats in their regional groups, and each secured the necessary two-thirds majority required of the secret ballots cast.
They will begin their terms on Jan. 1, 2022.
The council deals with issues of international peace and security. It has the power to deploy peacekeepers to trouble spots and to sanction bad actors. New members bring different experiences, perspectives and national interests to the council and can subtly affect dynamics among its members.
The council currently has several Middle Eastern crises on its agenda, including the Israeli-Palestinian situation and conflicts in Libya, Syria and Yemen.
Richard Gowan, U.N. director for the International Crisis Group and a long-time U.N. watcher, says the United Arab Emirates may play a role in those areas and elsewhere.
"The UAE has a lot of influence not only in the Middle East but in the Horn of Africa, and other council members will hope the Emiratis will use their influence to help stabilize countries like Sudan and Ethiopia," Gowan said.
Gowan notes that Albania is a country that has "seen the U.N. fail awfully in its region in the past."
The U.N. failed to stop the Balkan war of the early 1990s, leading to NATO bombing in 1995. Then in 1999, Kosovo's ethnic Albanians fought Serbs to gain independence.
"Albania's main interest on the U.N. agenda is of course still Kosovo, but the Security Council only has very limited influence there now," Gowan told VOA.
UAE Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh noted that the council's work does not end when resolutions are adopted.
"The UAE will be part of the coalition that speaks to strengthen the results-oriented nature of the council as much as possible," she said, adding that the council is most effective when it is united.
But in recent years, diverging views, particularly among its permanent members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - have stymied action on urgent issues.
"The Security Council's record on recent crises has been pathetic," Louis Charbonneau, U.N. director at Human Rights Watch, told VOA.
"Whether it involves war crimes in Gaza, massive human rights abuses in Myanmar, or atrocities in Ethiopia's Tigray region, the most you can usually expect is the occasional statement of concern - and that's if you're lucky," he said.
The countries elected Friday will replace exiting members Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Vietnam on Jan. 1.
They will join the five other current non-permanent members: India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico and Norway, and the five veto-wielding permanent members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.