UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday elected Germany, India, South Africa and Colombia to two-year seats on the U.N. Security Council, while Canada and Portugal went to a second round of voting.
Either Canada or Portugal will join the other four countries to serve two-year terms beginning in January 2011 and ending in December 2012 as non-veto-holding members of the 15-nation body, the powerhouse of the United Nations with the authority to impose sanctions and deploy peacekeeping forces.
The results of the second-round vote to decide whether Canada, which has served six terms on the council and never lost a bid for a seat, or Portugal, which has been on the council twice, has received the requisite two-thirds majority in the 192-nation General Assembly will be known shortly.
In the first round of voting, only Germany managed to cross the 127-vote threshold in the category known as "Western Europe and Others." India, South Africa and Colombia were all uncontested in their respective geographic groups.
There are five veto-holding permanent members of the Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China, the victors of World War Two -- and 10 temporary elected members without vetoes.
But the elected members have some power because a council resolution needs nine votes in favor as well as no vetoes.
The five rotating members serving on the council until the end of 2011 are Bosnia, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria. The five nations leaving the council at the end of this year are Austria, Turkey, Mexico, Japan and Uganda.
Germany is one of the top contributors to the United Nations and one of several countries, along with India, Japan and Brazil, that are considered prime candidates for permanent seats on the council if U.N. member states can ever agree on a formula for expanding it.
Over a decade of talks on a possible expansion of the Security Council to better reflect the nature of the world have failed to yield a consensus.