Lithuania, the sole candidate in the Eastern European group, secured 187 votes during the ballot at the General Assembly. The UN has a total of 193 members.
Lithuania will be one of the 10 non-permanent members in 2014 and 2015. Permanent members in the UN Security Council include the United States, China, Russia, France, and Great Britain, which have the veto right.
“After election to the UN Security Council, Lithuania will take part in the making of key decisions in connection to global security. It is a new honorable challenge and commitment to the whole international community after presidency of the European Union Council,” Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaitė told BNS through her press service.
Other countries elected to the Security Council on Thursday were Chile, Saudi Arabia, Chad, and Nigeria.
The Security Council includes 15 members of the UN. It is the only institution that, under international law, can sanction the use of military force. Decisions at the Council are made by the majority of nine votes.
Important decisions on Syria's chemical weapons and the use of military force in Libya have been made at the Council recently.
Lithuania is the first Baltic state to become a member of the Security Council.
Recognition of Lithuania's diplomacy
Lithuania's election to the UN Security Council signifies the confidence the international community has in Lithuania's diplomacy, says Kęstutis Girnius, associate professor at Vilnius University's International Relations and Political Science Institute.
The political expert notes that Lithuania is usually the first Baltic nation to get important diplomatic tasks, adding that Vilnius' presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Union (EU) Council drew good responses.
"This is recognition that Lithuania is doing diplomatic work well and that it can be trusted. Lithuania's OSCE presidency was broadly acclaimed, EU Council presidency is also considered to be rather successful, although it is not yet finished," Girnius told BNS on Thursday.
"Lithuania has won confidence. It is the first of the Baltic states to get many of the positions," he said.
In Girnius' words, the country can make successful use of the closer cooperation it will have with permanent UN Security Council members, namely, the United States, France, and Great Britain.
"As a member of the Security Council, Lithuania will be able to closely cooperate with the US, France, and Great Britain for two years. This can yield a positive result for Lithuania. Lithuania will be invited to discussions on key issues it would otherwise would not be able to participate in. Lithuania's support will sometimes be important, as not all members of the Security Council are liberal – for instance, members include Nigeria, Chad, Saudi Arabia. Argentina is not too friendly with America," said Girnius.
"We did not only become members for two years but will take presidency of the Security Council for a month on January 1 – this is the duty we have to perform by alphabet. So the next day after completing EU Council presidency, we will start presidency of the UN Security Council," Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said in a telephone interview from New York.
During the Thursday's vote at the General Assembly, Lithuania's secured 187 votes – he highest number of votes among the five elected members. The United Nations include a total of 193 countries.
"We are in the global policy league. This is something many countries aspire to," Linkevičius said after the vote.
The Lithuanian diplomacy chief emphasized that UN Security Council membership will improve Lithuania's visibility, which the country will be able to exercise to expand its economic and cultural ties, at the same time stressing the importance of proper preparations for the task.
"We have to prepare well. The Security Council's mandate is enormous, its decisions are binding for all countries, the Security Council confirms sanctions and use of force, if needed, it sanctions operations and discusses matters in connection to crises," he said.
President Dalia Grybauskaitė says the UN Security Council presidency will be a “new honorable challenge and commitment to the whole international community.”
“After election to the UN Security Council, Lithuania will take part in the making of key decisions in connection to global security,” Grybauskaitė told BNS through her press service.
Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius said the membership is a result of long diplomatic efforts.
"Lithuania's task now is to successfully meet the commitments we have been entrusted with once we've become non-permanent members of the UN Security Council – strengthen the international security," the prime minister said in a press release.
Lithuania had been seeking Security Council membership ever since it officially submitted an application for the slot for Eastern European group in 1996.