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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UN Security Council bid falls short

UN Security Council bid falls short

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The UN General Assembly votes on non-permanent members for the powerful Security Council. Photograph: Phnom Penh Post

After more than a year of bitter campaigning, Cambodia saw its efforts to win one of five non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council fall flat early this morning after the vote went to South Korea.

In an election held at the UN General Assembly in New York, that stretched just past midnight local time and went into a second round of voting, Cambodia garnered just 43 votes—falling far short of the necessary two-thirds majority needed for the win.

In addition to South Korea, Australia, Luxembourg, Rwanda and Argentina won seats as well.

The loss comes as a blow to the Kingdom, which announced its candidacy for the seat in January 2011 and has heavily ramped up campaigning over the course of the past year.

All nine ASEAN member states agreed to support the bid, and government officials had, months earlier, claimed they'd received confirmed support from more than 100 countries.

But mere hours before yesterday's vote, diplomats maintained that the race for the Asian seat remained too close to predict, according to Reuters, and the vote, which Bhutan lost in the first round, had to go to a rare second round.

Cambodia's loss puts South Korea in one of 10 non-permanent, two-year term seats in the powerful, 15-member body that is tasked with maintaining peace but is capable of authorizing military action. Five other positions are held permanently, and with veto power, by the US, Russia, Britain, China and France.

Headed by special envoy to the prime minister Hor Nam Bora, who also serves as an ambassador to six nations and is the son of Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, the Cambodian campaign focused heavily on its experience with peace-keeping and nation building.

"Cambodia fully understands the pain and suffering inflicted by war and internal conflict and attaches great importance to preventing and resolving potential difficulties wherever they are," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in its official candidacy brochure.

The sentiment was echoed by Namhong last month when he pressed Cambodia's bid at the UN General Assembly last month, telling envoys the nation hoped a seat would allow it to contribute to: "the cause of peace, security and peaceful settlement of conflicts nowadays."

But while Cambodian diplomats have been stumping heavily, its efforts have been hotly contested by rights monitors in recent months who have urged the international community to take what they've termed a deteriorating human rights record into account before voting.

Officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not immediately be reached for comment early this morning.

To contact the reporter on this story: abby.seiff@phnompenhpost.com

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