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Turkey Gains Non-permanent Seat on U.N. Security Council

Turkey, Austria, Japan, Mexico and Uganda will serve a two-year term beginning Jan. 1, alongside the five permanent members: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States.

The total 10 non-permanent members can vote on council actions, such as military intervention and economic sanctions, but each permanent member has the added ability of vetoing resolutions.

Decisions on procedural matters are approved with the votes of nine of the 15 members, and for substantive matters, all five permanent members must be part of the nine in the affirmative.

The addition of Turkey as a non-permanent member falls in line with its efforts over the past few years to gain international standing and become more of a regional player, said Steven Cook, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“Over the last five or six years, Turkey has really come into its own economically, politically and diplomatically,” said Cook. Its new status at the United Nations is a boost both politically for the government and psychologically for Turks, he continued. The U.N. seat will say to Turks that “the country is in fact a player in the international system, it’s not just some sort of an appendage of the United States or the European Union.”

Turkey will likely seek to continue its role as a mediator of disputes, particularly on Iran’s nuclear program, Arab-Israeli conflicts and the war in Iraq, according to Cook. Currently, Turkey is working to mediate talks between Israel and Syria, and is active in issues in Europe and the Caucasus, such as the Russian-Georgian conflict, he said.

“The fact that [Turkey] is a large Muslim country … that continues to pursue a European vocation allows it to play in both arenas and be flexible enough that it can talk to everybody,” Cook said. “That’s the way the present government’s foreign policy architects have intended it and that’s the way, in many instances, it’s actually worked out.”

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