By Melissa Katz
Saudi Arabia turned down a highly coveted seat on the United Nations Security Council on Friday, Oct. 18, in what the United Nations and many others around the world saw as a shocking and unprecedented move, only a day after they had won a Security Council seat for the first time, according to The New York Times.
The nations’ own diplomats—both those in the United Nations and in Riyadh, the capital of the largest city in Saudi Arabia—were busy celebrating the new seat, only to find out a few hours later that the Saudi Foreign Ministry released a statement rejecting the seat, as reported by The New York Times.
The General Assembly of the United Nations offered Saudi Arabia a two-year term to the Middle East “oil giant,” electing them to one of the 10 rotating seats on the U.N. Security Council, according to CNN.
Abdallah Y. al-Mouallimi, the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, signaled that his country is standing by its choice to turn down the seat, further lashing out at the Security Council, The Associated Press reported. He attacked the Security Council for “failures to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the war in Syria, and to convene a conference on creating a zone in the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction at a day-long council meeting Tuesday on Middle East hotspots.”
Initially Al-Mouallimi, undoubtedly thrilled with the news, said after the General Assembly vote, “We take this election very seriously as a responsibility to be able to contribute to this very important forum to peace and security of the world. Our election today is a reflection of a longstanding policy in support of moderation and in support of resolving disputes by peaceful means.”
But the statement released by the Saudi Foreign Ministry the next day had a vastly different tone, focusing on what Saudi Arabia deems necessary, the United Nation’s must improve their peace contributions, The New York Times reported.
“Allowing the ruling regime in Syria to kill and burn its people by the chemical weapons, while the world stands idly, without applying deterrent sanctions against the Damascus regime, is also irrefutable evidence and proof of the inability of the Security Council to carry out its duties and responsibilities,” the statement said.
According to The Associated Press, Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, has not currently received any official documentation or notification from Saudi Arabia rejecting the seat despite all other claims.