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.
The five members are expected to serve on the Security Council for the 2014–15 period.
An Arab state is due to take a seat on account of the custom of rotation of the unofficial "Arab seat" between the Arab states belonging to the African and Asian groups and the expiry of the term of the previous Arab member, Morocco, whose term expires in 2013.
Following the vote, Saudi Arabia, despite winning, declined to take the seat citing the UNSC's "double standards" in being allegedly ineffective in regards to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, nuclear disarmament in the Middle East and putting an end to the Syrian civil war. This was the first time a state had rejected a Security Council seat. Saudi Arabia's refusal of the seat surprised both United Nations diplomats and some observers inside the country, where the announcement of the election had been received favorably. The Gulf Cooperation Council supported Saudi Arabia's bid. In addition, Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan suggested a distancing of Saudi Arabia–United States relations as a result of the same issue over the Syrian civil war, amongst other reasons. On 12 November, Saudi Arabia formally declined the seat, advising the Secretary-General that it "would not be in a position to take the seat on the Security Council to which it was elected."
A second vote was held on 6 December to fill the vacancy created by the rejection of Saudi Arabia to take the seat it was elected to. Prior to the vote, the General Assembly honoured Nelson Mandela, who had died the previous day. There were 185 ballot papers.
African and Asia-Pacific Groups election results
^United Nations, General Assembly, Letter dated 12 November 2013 from the Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General, A/68/599 (14 November 2013), available from undocs.org/A/68/599