United Nations Regional Groups

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The United Nations Regional Groups are the geopolitical regional groups of member states of the United Nations. Originally, UN member states were unofficially grouped 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

The groupings have changed over time. From the founding of the United Nations until 1966, the regional groups were: British Commonwealth, Eastern Europe and Asia, Latin America, Middle East and Western Europe. In 1966, in response to changes in the UN's membership, decolonisation and strategic realignment, the groups were reorganised as: Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America and Caribbean, and Western Europe and Others. In 2011, the Asia Group was renamed Asia-Pacific.

As of May 2014, the 193 UN member states are divided into five regional groups:[1]

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

Overview[edit]

Apart from allowing member states with related international interests to liaise, discuss and coordinate their voting and other activities at the United Nations, the main function of the regional groups is to distribute membership quotas in United Nations bodies and leadership positions. According to convention, the non-permanent membership seats of the United Nations Security Council is apportioned between regional groups according to a set formula. Other bodies, such as the United Nations Economic and Social Council and the United Nations Human Rights Committee, also have set membership quotas for each regional group. The position of the President of the UN General Assembly rotates amongst the groups on a ten-year cycle (the current rule being that each regional group fills the position twice during the cycle, in effect it rotates on a five-year cycle).

Regional Group Number of members  % of members UNSC permanent members UNSC elected members ECOSOC members HRC members UNGA President years
Africa 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

Populations of regional groups[edit]

Regional Group Number of members Population (approx., rounded WP numbers)  % of UN members population
Africa 54 1.14 billion 15.8%
Asia-Pacific 53 4.24 billion 58.5%
EEG 23 340 million 4.69%
GRULAC 33 621 million 8.57%
WEOG 29 904 million 12.49%
None 1 124,000 0.00%
Total UN members 193 7.24 billion 100%
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[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 Angola, Egypt, and Senegal. 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:[1]

Asia-Pacific Group[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 Japan and Malaysia. 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:[1]

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[edit]

The Eastern European Group has 23 members (12% of all UN members), and as such is the regional group with the fewest 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 Ukraine. 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:[1]

Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)[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 Venezuela and Uruguay. 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.

Member states of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, as of 2010:[1]

Western European and Others Group (WEOG)[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 New Zealand and Spain. 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, Mogens Lykketoft of Denmark was elected to this position in 2015.

Member states of the Western European and Others Group, as of 2011:[1]

UN Observers[edit]

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

Special cases[edit]

Israel[edit]

In May 2000, Israel, though naturally a part of the Asia-Pacific Group in geographical terms but with membership blocked by Arab countries, became a full member of WEOG, on a temporary 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.[5] (It remained an observer at UN offices in Geneva, Nairobi, Rome and Vienna.[6]) In December 2013, Israel was granted full membership to the WEOG group in Geneva. Israel is thus a full permanent member of the WEOG group.

Kiribati[edit]

As of 2010, Kiribati (geographically in Oceania) has never elected to be a member of any regional group,[1] despite other Oceania nations belonging to the Asia-Pacific Group. Despite its membership in the United Nations, Kiribati has never delegated a permanent representative to the UN.

Turkey[edit]

Turkey, participates fully in both WEOG and Asia-Pacific Group, but for electoral purposes is considered a member of WEOG only.[7]

United States of America[edit]

The United States of America voluntarily[8] 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.[9][10]

Palestine[edit]

The Palestinian Liberation Organization has participated in the Asia-Pacific group since 2 April 1986[11][12][13][14] as an observer.

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]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g United Nations Regional Groups of Member States, 9 May 2014, accessed 28 September 2015.
  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. ^ UN Commission for Human Rights, Resolution 624.
  6. ^ Justin Gruenberg: An Analysis of United Nations Security Council Resolutions (p. 479, n. 68).
  7. ^ United Nations Regional Groups of Member States.
  8. ^ Justin Gruenberg: An Analysis of United Nations Security Council Resolutions (p. 479).
  9. ^ UN-HABITAT's Global Report on Human Settlements, 2007 Archived May 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. (p. 335, n. 2). UNAIDS, The Governance Handbook, January 2010 (p. 29, first note).
  10. ^ Official UN list of Regional Groups Archived June 6, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. (p. 2, note).
  11. ^ United Nations General Assembly (7 July 1998). "UNGA Resolution 52/250" (PDF). United Nations. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 22, 2011. 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.

External links[edit]