UNITED NATIONS - Jordan takes over the UN Security Council presidency on Wednesday, the first day of its two-year stint on a 15-nation body struggling to cope with conflicts in Syria, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Mali and elsewhere.
Jordan will join Chad, Chile, Lithuania and Nigeria on the council until Dec. 31, 2015. The UN General Assembly elected Amman in early December as a replacement for Saudi Arabia after Riyadh turned down the seat in protest at the council's failure to end the Syrian war and act on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other Middle East issues.
Although Jordan was a last-minute stand-in for the Saudi kingdom, Amman's UN ambassador, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein, has a reputation at the United Nations for his outspoken stance on human rights issues, UN diplomats say.
As president of the council for January, Zeid will organize briefings on the delayed destruction of Syria's chemical weapons and the escalating conflict in South Sudan, as well as the situation in Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and Sudan's Western Darfur region.
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