Jordan was Friday elected to a two-year term on the UN Security Council, taking the seat that Saudi Arabia won and then rejected in a protest over Syria’s civil war.
Jordan, which will take up the seat on January 1, won 178 votes from among the 193 members of the UN General Assembly and was the only candidate put forward for the vacant post.
“What we saw today is almost a consensus by the international community, a consensus that we appreciate and feel humbled by… it is truly an honor,” said Jordan’s foreign minister Nasser Judeh after the vote.
The award of a Security Council seat also “recognizes the role of Jordanian diplomacy worldwide,” he added.
Saudi Arabia shocked other nations by announcing on October 18 that it would not take up the seat it had been awarded the previous day, citing the council’s failure to act on the Syria conflict.
Last month, diplomats said Jordan was reluctant to take up the Asia-Pacific seat on the 15-nation Security Council but had been persuaded to do so by Riyadh.
Judeh on Friday said that Saudi Arabia had “declined to take the seat for its sovereign reasons.”
“These are reasons that we respect… it is their independent decision,” he said. “We are here today in full coordination with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.
“We believe that our presence on the Security Council is going to be positive,” he added.
Diplomats and analysts concluded that Saudi Arabia’s decision to reject the council seat last month was a protest aimed at US policy over Syria and the Middle East as much as toward the Security Council.
Saudi Arabia, which had been campaigning for the Security Council seat and preparing its diplomats for two years, was also angry at US moves to improve ties with arch-rival Iran, according to diplomats who said the decision could only have been taken by King Abdullah.
The Saudi government said that the council’s deadlock over the war in Syria was “irrefutable evidence and proof of the inability of the Security Council to carry out its duties and responsibilities.”
Saudi Arabia is a key backer of Syrian rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad. The government also complained about lack of progress in efforts to end the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
US Secretary of State John Kerry met King Abdullah in the Kingdom last month in a bid to patch up strains in relations.
Saudi Arabia last month secured a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.