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article imageSaudia Arabia rejects a seat on the UN Security Council

By Mike White     Oct 18, 2013 in World
Riyadh - Saudi Arabia Friday rejected taking a seat on the United Nations Security Council. The move was unprecedented and stunned the UN and even some Saudi diplomats. It had seemingly been prepared to accept the seat, until recently.
The New York Times reported the move was a reversal in policy, and those in the highest levels of authority in the Saudi monarchy made it. Reportedly, the decision was made in part over a deep-seated anger by those in power in Saudi Arabia that the United Nations Security Council has been ineffective in dealing with major problems in the Middle East, such as the influence of Iran, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Syrian war. Iran is a regional rival of Saudi Arabia.
Before the announcement was made, Saudi diplomats had seemed excited that their country was going to have a prominent position in the United Nations. The Saudi Foreign Ministry announced the country would not accept a seat at the United Nations security council. The official Saudi Press Agency carried the announcement.
The Times article stated the rejection showed a big internal divide in Saudi Arabia’s hierarchy as to ways the oil-rich kingdom can wield influence in the world.
“The manner, the mechanisms of action and double standards existing in the Security Council prevent it from performing its duties and assuming its responsibilities toward preserving international peace and security as required,” the Foreign Ministry claimed in its statement.
Saudi Arabia had previously expressed frustration at how the Security Council had handled conflict in Syria. Russia and China have blocked attempts to pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Other permanent members of the Council include Britain, France and the United States.
The rejection of the Security Council seat was made one day after Lithuania, Chile, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia were elected to seats on the 15-member Security Council. The term was to be for two years and was to start in January They replace Togo, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Morocco. Many value the seats because officials who use them access to diplomacy at the highest levels. They reportedly then have the chance to influence important events. The seats are prized because they give officials access to high-level diplomacy and offer a rare opportunity to influence events.
"This is very bad for the country," one diplomat said anonymously. The king's decision is rarely questioned in public.
According to, the countries chosen for the two year terms were elected by secret ballot.
Only the five permanent members have veto power. The Republic of Korea, Australia, Argentina, Rwanda and Luxembourg will continue to be on the Council until the end of 2014.
The primary responsibility for 15-member Council is to maintain international peace and security. All member states of the United Nations are required to abide by its decisions.
The Council also determines when there are threats peace and acts of aggression. It then asks the parties in a dispute to settle the disagreement by peaceful means. It also suggests terms of settlement or methods of adjustment. In can impose sanctions or give the authority to use force to restore or maintain order.
CTV News reported Saudi Arabia's frustration with the United Nations stems from its frustration with the United States.
"Allowing the ruling regime in Syria to kill its people and burn them with chemical weapons in front of the entire world and without any deterrent or punishment is clear proof and evidence of the U.N. Security Council's inability to perform its duties and shoulder its responsibilities," the Saudi statement also said in rejecting membership.
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