The Security Council has 15 seats, filled by five permanent members and ten non-permanent members. Each year, half of the non-permanent members are elected for two-year terms. A sitting member may not immediately run for re-election.
In accordance with the rules whereby the ten non-permanent UNSC seats rotate among the various regional blocs into which UN member states traditionally divide themselves for voting and representation purposes, the five available seats are allocated as follows:
To be elected, a candidate must receive a two-thirds majority of those present and voting. If the vote is inconclusive after the first round, three rounds of restricted voting shall take place, followed by three rounds of unrestricted voting, and so on, until a result has been obtained. In restricted voting, only official candidates may be voted on, while in unrestricted voting, any member of the given regional group, with the exception of current Council members, may be voted on.
Costa Rica – Costa Rica was one of only two countries to declare its intention to seek the one Latin American seat prior to the election. It formally withdrew after the twenty-second round.
Cuba – Cuba was the other country that declared its candidacy prior to the election. However, before the first round of voting, Cuba withdrew, citing conditions similar to the previous year's election, in which Cuba had been an unsuccessful candidate and which had lasted 155 rounds over three months.
Panama – Panama only declared its candidacy after fourteen rounds of inconclusive voting were already complete, having initially endorsed Costa Rica, citing the election of Ronald Reagan as a compelling reason for Panama's presence on the Council.
Guyana – Having received a significant number[clarification needed] of votes in the first few rounds, Guyana clarified that it was not a seeking a seat on the Council and formally endorsed Costa Rica.
Nicaragua – Although receiving a significant number[clarification needed] of votes in the middle rounds, the Nicaraguan government decided not to be a candidate in the election. It clarified this position during an extraordinary session of the Latin American Group, and the decision was communicated to the General Assembly through the group's chairman prior to the eleventh round of voting.