UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Vietnam began to assume responsibilities on Thursday as non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
The five countries hold a two-year term. Out of the five newly-elected members, Estonia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have never served on the Security Council.
Kuwait, Peru, Poland, Cote d'Ivoire and Equatorial Guinea have just left the Security Council.
The 15-member Security Council has five permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, and 10 non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the UN General Assembly.
The Security Council's powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations and international sanctions as well as the authorization of military actions through resolutions. It is the only body of the UN with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states. The Council held its first session on Jan. 17, 1946.