UN member states vote on Tuesday to fill five of 10 non-permanent seats on the Security Council, with three of them apparently done deals but two seats still open and Germany, Canada and Portugal battling it out.
The Security Council is the 192-member world body's main decision making organ and has 15 members. Five permanent members wield veto power: the United States, China, France, Russia and Britain.
Agreement has already been reached for new members in three regional areas: Japan will be followed by India representing the Asia region; Mexico will be followed by Colombia representing Latin America; Uganda will be followed by South Africa representing Africa.
In a fourth area, called Western Europe and other Groups (WEOG), Austria and Turkey are on their way out.
Countries in this group have not reached an agreement, and the competition is on among Germany, Portugal and Canada.
These three countries have been campaigning with others for the seats, and the competition has heated up in recent days.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was due in New York Sunday for three days to support his country's candidacy and be present for the balloting.
The Security Council, under the UN charter, has as its main responsibility peacekeeping and international security. Its decisions and resolutions in principle are binding in nature. They are made by a majority of at least nine of the 15 members if they are not vetoed by the permanent members.
"Canada and Portugal are very strong candidates and they are close allies and friends. Secret votes are always imponderable, but we are convinced that we (Germany) have very good chances," said German UN Ambassador Peter Wittig.
Germany is eager to hold the rotating seat "to pursue an active policy of peace -- we have the experience and resources to do that -- of course we have high hopes," he added noting "we are campaigning for our candidacy since the year 2000. We hope to be elected."
Safia Morsly-Sikai, a spokeswoman at Canada's UN mission, also was upbeat. "We have been campaigning quite actively for years and even more so recently," she said.
"We have had a lot of positive responses which make us confident. But it is not over yet, and it's not a done deal" she added.
Manuel Pereira, a press attaché for the Portuguese mission, also was confident the seat was within his country's grasp. "Of course we have great hope," Pereira said. We have been campaigning since 2000. We definitely hope that we are elected."
The winning candidate has to get two thirds of the votes to be elected for a two-year term. That means several rounds of voting are likely on Tuesday.
The terms of the elected countries start January 1.