London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia was elected to the UN Security Council for the first time on Thursday.
The kingdom was elected to the body by the 193 members of the UN’s General Assembly, along with Chad, Chile, Lithuania and Nigeria.
The five states were elected unopposed, but still required the backing of two-thirds of all UN member states in a secret ballot.
The five new members will serve for two years, with each taking a turn to act as chair of the body for one month. The term of all five states will begin on January 1, 2014, and conclude at the end of 2016.
While Nigeria and Chile have both served on the council four times each, this marks the first time Saudi Arabia, Chad and Lithuania will serve on the UN’s central decision-making body.
The Security Council has 15 members, of which five are permanent—China, France, the US, the UK, and Russia—and ten are elected for two-year terms among the remaining 187 members states of the UN’s General Assembly, with new elections for half of the temporary members every year.
Only the five permanent members hold powers of veto over Security Council decisions, though all may propose motions and vote.
Nominations for the non-permanent members are distributed by region, with Saudi Arabia nominated for one of five seats reserved for Asian and African states. It replaces Morocco as the only Arab state on the Council.