A new UN Security Council: What does that mean for Jordan?

Amman

Germany will leave the UN Security Council in the beginning of 2021. Already today, its successor will be elected along with four other new non-permanent members. The world was never without crisis and there were certainly never good times for changing the members of the UN Security Council. But with the world slowly awakening from the COVID-19 shock, the US American elections ahead and a looming Israeli annexation plan of relevant parts of the West Bank: What does this “change of guard” mean for a volatile region like the Middle East? With a clear stand on current political issues, which allies will Jordan have in the only UN body whose decisions are binding under international law?

The Election of 5 new non-permanent UN Security Council members

On the 17th of June 2020 the UN General Assembly is scheduled to elect five states for their two-year term on the Security Council, beginning on 1st of January 2021. The Council is composed of 15 Members: Five permanent members: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly (with end of term year): Belgium (2020), Dominican Republic (2020), Estonia (2021), Germany (2020), Indonesia (2020), Niger (2021), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (2021), South Africa (2020), Tunisia (2021), and Vietnam (2021).

Traditionally, each region of the world is allocated seats to the Council, but with seven states running, only Mexico and India practically secured their places before the race even started. Two seats will be given either to Canada, Ireland or Norway and the “African” seat will be decided between either Kenya or Djibouti. With Germany leaving the Council in 2021, Jordan could lose a key partner and close ally at a time it may need it the most, as Jordan’s King Abdullah II could be facing the most serious decisions of his 21 years on the throne.

The UN Security Council and the annexation of parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley

Should Israel follow through with plans to annex parts of the West Bank on July 1, this move could spark a volatile reaction from the Jordanian population and mark the end of a two-state solution. As only one of two Arab peace partners with Israel, Germany so far affirmed the strength of Jordanian-German relations and underscored the two countries’ shared stance on the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The current UN Security Council will convene next week, on the 24th of June, at foreign minister level to discuss this issue at a new low in Israel-Jordan ties, which have been tested repeatedly in recent years and which Amman has threatened to cut off if Israel goes ahead.

The Jordan concern - officially and unofficially – is not only that the annexation could end the two-state solution, it is also the possibility of an existential threat to Jordan’s national security, as well as raising fears about the fate of over 2 million Palestinian refugees living in Jordan. The annexation could also make the communication between the Palestinians and Jordanians more complicated, and the fear of deporting more Palestinians to Jordan and devoting the idea of an alternative homeland. 

Taking into consideration all the Jordan concerns and the discussions on the annexation of Jordan Valley in the Security Council, Jordan has to increase its allies in the council based on the official announcement of each state member and its interaction towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The position of the current members (permanents and non-permanents) is clear based on their statements, such as France and Estonia -- from the European side -- especially after the joint statement that said “France, Belgium, Germany and Estonia will not recognize any changes to the 1967 borders, unless agreed by Israelis and Palestinians”; and Tunisia as an Arab country has strong relation with Jordan and the Palestinian issues. After electing the five new states members, Jordan needs to find allies among them, and they could be Mexico according to the tense relationship with Trump’s administration, Ireland according to its plans to urge European Union countries to take steps to counter encroachment by Israel on the Jordan Valley; Norway according to the strategic Jordanian-Norwegian partnership; and Djibouti which considered an Arab country. 

Answering the question which is in the title, Jordan has to continue its lobbying and building alliances in the UN Security Council to get more support to its political movements in order to prevent the Israel plan towards the Jordan Valley. The coming days would show us more scenarios about the situation.

FNF Hong Kong

Written by: Dirk Kunze, Regional Director Friedrich Naumann Foundation Middle East and North Africa and Mu'tasim Mahadeen, Jordan Strategy Coordinator