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UNSC seat to boost S. Korea role in global security

Publication Date : 21-10-2012


South Korea’s entry into the UN Security Council will boost its say in global security issues and help in addressing N. Korea's nuclear threat


South Korea’s entry into the UN Security Council will boost the country’s say in global security issues and help facilitate cooperation in addressing North Korea’s nuclear threat, officials and experts said Friday.

The country was selected as a non-permanent member of the council during a vote on Thursday. It will replace India whose two-year term expires at the end of the year.

Seoul beat Cambodia in the second round 149 to 43 over the slot reserved for Asia. Other newly elected members are Australia, Argentina, Luxembourg and Rwanda.

The coveted membership in the top decision-making body is seen as advancing the country’s role in Northeast Asian security and world peace given its strategic location and Pyongyang’s sabre-rattling.

“When the council dealt with North Korea’s provocations in the past, we had to engage only through consultation with its member countries.

Our presence in the council amounts to securing a significant portion of deterrence against North Korea,” Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan told a news conference.

Cheong Wa Dae also lauded the achievement.

“We will strengthen our roles and contributions fitting our national power in solidifying peace on the Korean Peninsula and maintaining international peace and security,” presidential spokesman Park Jeong-ha said in a statement.

The 15-member group determines international sanctions, military actions and peacekeeping operations.

But the 66-year-old council’s action is limited by the veto power of the five countries and their differing stances on nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran, Syria’s bloodshed and Palestinian statehood.

Its five permanent members are the US, China, Russia, the UK and France and 10 two-year members include Germany, South Africa, Colombia, Pakistan and Azerbaijan.

Seoul now faces new tasks including crafting its own positions on security issues rather than keeping pace with its ally Washington.

Korea can stand out as a “mediator” particularly between Asian powers involved in increasingly fierce disputes over territory and resources, said Kim Seong-chul, a senior researcher at Sejong Institute.

“While the council’s role may be reduced in the face of an internal struggle between the US, China and Russia, it should inevitably become more important as a collective security regime to resolve a growing number of conflicts,” he told The Korea Herald.

“With the council seat, Korea will be able to position itself as a more dominant player in light of deepening territorial and resources disputes in East Asia such as one between China and Japan (over remote islands in the East China Sea), and the US’ relative economic and military decline.”

South Korea joined the UN in 1991 and served as a host nation of the General Assembly in 2001, marking a miraculous ascent from the ashes of 1950-53 Korean War to one of the world’s most dynamic economies and donors.

The feat also follows the 2006 election of former Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon at the helm of the 193-member United Nations and his re-induction last year. Seoul served in the council from 1996-97.

Tensions remain high surrounding the peninsula since the communist state’s rocket launch on April 13 and ensuing provocations. The council has called for the North to abide by obligations under a 2005 disarmament agreement and its resolutions demanding a moratorium on all atomic projects.

The heavily militarised country later in the day threatened to attack Imjingak, a park near the inter-Korean border where anti-North Korean activists frequently float helium balloons with leaflets denouncing the oppressive regime.


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