United Nations Regional Groups

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The member states of the United Nations are unofficially divided into five geopolitical regional groups. What began as an informal means of sharing the distribution of posts for General Assembly committees has taken on a much more expansive role. Depending on the UN context, regional groups control elections to UN-related positions, on the basis of geographic representation, as well as coordinate substantive policy, and form common fronts for negotiations and voting.

  African Group
  Asia-Pacific Group
  Eastern European Group
  Latin American and Caribbean Group
  Western European and Others Group
  UN member not in any voting group
  Observer states
  Disputed territory

As of July 2011, the 193 UN member states are divided into five groups:[1]

  • the African Group, with 54 member states.
  • the Asia-Pacific Group, with 53 member states;
  • the Eastern European Group, with 23 member states;
  • the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), with 33 member states;
  • the Western European and Others Group (WEOG), with 28 member states, plus 1 member state as observer.

Kiribati is not included in the above numbers (see below).

Overview[edit]

Regional Group Number of members  % of members UNSC permanent members UNSC elected members ECOSOC members HRC members UNGA President years
African 54 28 0 3 14 13 4 and 9
Asia-Pacific 53 27.5 1 2 11 13 1 and 6
EEG 23 12 1 1 6 6 2 and 7
GRULAC 33 17 0 2 10 8 3 and 8
WEOG 29 15 3 2 13 7 0 and 5
None 1 0.5 - - - - -
Total UN members 193 100 5 10 54 47 All years
Seating allocations
Security Council General Assembly
United Nations Security Council regional groups.svg United National General Assembly.svg
  African Group
  The Asia-Pacific Group
  The Eastern European Group
  The Latin American and Caribbean States (GRULAC)
  The Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
  UN member not in any voting group

The regional groups[edit]

African Group[1][edit]

The African Group has 54 members (28% of all UN members), and is thus the largest regional group by number of member states. It is the only regional group that has a territory that coincides with the traditional continent of which its name originates. The African Group has 3 seats on the Security Council, all non-permanent, currently occupied by Chad, Nigeria, and Rwanda. The Group also has 14 seats on the United Nations Economic and Social Council and 13 seats on the United Nations Human Rights Council. In the rotation of the post of the President of the United Nations General Assembly, the group is eligible for having its nationals elected to this post in years ending with 4 and 9; most recently, Ali Treki of Libya was elected to this position in 2009.

Member states of the African Group, as of July 2011:

Asia-Pacific Group[1][edit]

The Asia-Pacific Group (formerly the Asian Group) has 53 members (27.5% of all UN members) and is the second largest regional group by number of member states (one fewer than the African Group). Its territory is composed of much of the continents of Asia and Oceania. However, Russia and the Caucasian states are members of the Eastern European Group and Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and Turkey are all members of the Western European and Others Group. The Asia-Pacific Group has three seats on the Security Council: the permanent seat of China, and two non-permanent seats, currently occupied by Jordan and the Republic of Korea. The Group also has 11 seats on the United Nations Economic and Social Council and 13 seats on the United Nations Human Rights Council. In the rotation of the post of the President of the United Nations General Assembly, the group is eligible for having its nationals elected to this post in years ending with 1 and 6; most recently, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser of Qatar was elected to this position in 2011.

Member states of the Asia-Pacific Group, as of 2011:

2011 name change[edit]

Until 2011, the Asia-Pacific Group was called the "Asian Group".[2] The name change was adopted as a result of pressure from the non-Asian island countries that compose approximately one-fifth of the group's membership.[2] On China's insistence, the group's official name is the "Group of Asia and the Pacific Small Island Developing States", but the use of the shortened name "Asia-Pacific Group" is permitted in official UN documents.[2]

Eastern European Group[1][edit]

The Eastern European Group has 23 members (12% of all UN members), and as such is the regional group with the least number of member states. The Eastern European Group has 2 seats on the Security Council; the permanent seat of Russia and one non-permanent seat, currently occupied by Lithuania. The Group also has 6 seats on the United Nations Economic and Social Council and 6 seats on the United Nations Human Rights Council. In the rotation of the post of the President of the United Nations General Assembly, the group is eligible for having its nationals elected to this post in years ending with 2 and 7; most recently, Vuk Jeremić of the Republic of Serbia was elected to this position for 2012.

Members of the Eastern European Group as of 2010:

Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)[1][edit]

The Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC for short[4] ) has 33 members (17% of all UN members). Its territory is almost exactly that of South and Central America and the Caribbean; the differences arise from the presence of dependent territories of European countries. GRULAC has 2 non-permanent seats on the Security Council, currently occupied by Argentina and Chile. The Group also has 10 seats on the United Nations Economic and Social Council and 8 seats on the United Nations Human Rights Council. In the rotation of the post of the President of the United Nations General Assembly, the group is eligible for having its nationals elected to this post in years ending with 3 and 8; most recently, John William Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda was elected to this position in 2013 and is the current General Assembly President.

Member states of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, as of 2010:

Western European and Others Group (WEOG)[1][edit]

The Western European and Others Group (WEOG for short) has 28 members (15% of all UN members). It has a territory dispersed on all of the continents, but mostly centred in Western Europe and North America. In addition, the United States is an observer (see below). Including the United States, WEOG has 5 seats on the Security Council, three permanent ones (France, United Kingdom, United States), and two non-permanent ones, currently occupied by Australia and Luxembourg. The Group also has 13 seats on the United Nations Economic and Social Council and 7 seats on the United Nations Human Rights Council. In the rotation of the post of the President of the United Nations General Assembly, the group is eligible for having its nationals elected to this post in years ending with 0 and 5; most recently, Joseph Deiss of Switzerland was elected to this position in 2010.

Member states of the Western European and Others Group, as of 2011:

No grouping[edit]

As of 2010, Kiribati Kiribati (geographically in Oceania) is not a member of any regional group, despite the majority of other Oceanian nations belonging to the Asia-Pacific group.[1]

Observers[edit]

Since the adoption of United Nations General Assembly resolution 67/19, there are 2 observer states:

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Israel is geographically in Asia but its membership in the Asia-Pacific Group has been withheld due to the large majority of Muslim countries in the Asian block, which have refused to allow Israel's acceptance.[citation needed] In May 2000 it became a WEOG full[5] member, on a temporary[5] basis (subject to renewal), in WEOG's headquarters in the US, thereby enabling it to put forward candidates for election to various UN General Assembly bodies. In 2004, Israel obtained a permanent renewal to its membership[6] (in WEOG's headquarters in US, while remaining an observer at the UN offices in Geneva, Nairobi, Rome and Vienna[7]). On June 14, 2005, Dan Gillerman was elected to the position of Vice-President of the 60th UN General Assembly. The last Israeli to hold this position was UN envoy Abba Eban in 1952. Israel's candidacy was put forward by WEOG. In this position, Gillerman played a central role during the initial negotiation stages of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. On December 1st, 2013, Israel was invited to join the United Nations Regional Groups in Geneva[8]
  2. ^ Turkey participates fully in both WEOG and Asian Group, but for electoral purposes is considered a member of WEOG only.[5]
  3. ^ The United States of America voluntarily[9] chooses not to be a member of any group, and attends meetings of the Western European and Others Group as an observer only. However, it is considered to be a member of WEOG for putting forward candidates for electoral purposes in the United Nations General Assembly.[5][10]
  4. ^ The Palestinian Liberation Organization has participated in the Asia-Pacific group since 2 April 1986.[11][12][13][14]

Proposed new groupings[edit]

Pacific[edit]

In 2000, the government of Nauru—at present, a member of the Asia-Pacific Group—called for a new regional group titled Oceania. Aside from Nauru, this proposed bloc may also include Australia and New Zealand (both in WEOG), Japan, South Korea, the ASEAN countries, and the rest of Oceania.[15]

Gallery[edit]

Criticisms[edit]

A criticism of the regional grouping system is the pressure brought to bear on members to vote consistent with the majority of their regional group. For countries which may have political differences, this can weaken their negotiating positions on a number of issues and an inability to be elected to key leadership positions in the UN.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Official UN list of Regional Groups, at UN website. UNAIDS, The Governance Handbook, January 2010 (pp. 28,29) plus South Sudan from July 14, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "Asian group of nations at UN changes its name to Asia-Pacific group", Radio New Zealand International, 2011-08-31.
  3. ^ Referred to by the United Nations as "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" due to the Macedonia naming dispute.
  4. ^ "Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Colombia. Retrieved 2012-10-18. 
  5. ^ a b c d UN-HABITAT's Global Report on Human Settlements, 2007 (p. 335, n. 2). UNAIDS, The Governance Handbook, January 2010 (p. 29, first note).
  6. ^ UN Commission for Human Rights, Resolution 624.
  7. ^ Justin Gruenberg: An Analysis of United Nations Security Council Resolutions (p. 479, n. 68).
  8. ^ "Israel invited to join UN’s Western nations group in Geneva". Jpost. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  9. ^ Justin Gruenberg: An Analysis of United Nations Security Council Resolutions (p. 479).
  10. ^ Official UN list of Regional Groups (p. 2, note).
  11. ^ United Nations General Assembly (7 July 1998). "UNGA Resolution 52/250". United Nations. Retrieved 2011-01-10. : "Palestine enjoys full membership in the Group of Asian States and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia."
  12. ^ Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations. "Status of Palestine at the United Nations". United Nations. Retrieved 2011-01-10. : "On 2 April 1986, the Asian Group of the U.N. decided to accept the PLO as a full member."
  13. ^ United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. "Government structures". United Nations. Retrieved 2011-01-10. : "At present, the PLO is a full member of the Asian Group of the United Nations, ..."
  14. ^ Doebbler, Curtis (27 November 2009). "International Law and Palestinian Independence: A View from Palestine". JURIST (University of Pittsburgh School of Law). Retrieved 2011-01-10. : "Palestine is already recognised as a full member of the Asian Group of States in the UN, and often thereby submits and influences UN resolutions. Being a member state would also give the Palestinian representative to the UN the right to vote on General Assembly resolutions, among other UN decisions."
  15. ^ See UN official website.

Official External links[edit]