Bangladesh, Jamaica, Mali, Tunisia and Ukraine begin two-year terms on the prestigious 15-nation U.N. Security Council today.
They were elected by the 188-nation General Assembly in October to fill seats being vacated at the end of 1999 by Bahrain, Brazil, Gabon, Gambia and Slovenia.
The Security Council, the U.N. body responsible for international peace and security, includes five permanent members with the power of veto -- the United States, Russia, Britain, China and France -- and 10 nonpermanent members that each serve two-year terms.
Five nonpermanent members that will remain on the council for another year from Jan. 1 are Argentina, Canada, Malaysia, Namibia and the Netherlands.
Barring an emergency, council members will not meet until Wednesday, when they are scheduled to hold closed-door consultations on their program of work for the month.
The president of the council for January will be the U.S. representative, Richard Holbrooke.