By United Nations

11 July - The process aimed at attaining United Nations membership got under way today for the Republic of South Sudan as the President of the Security Council referred the application of the world's newest country to the body tasked with examining such requests.

The Council's Committee on the Admission of New Members met this afternoon to review the application, which was submitted by the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, on 9 July, the day the country formally separated from Sudan and became independent.

“I have the honour, on behalf of the Republic of South Sudan and its people, in my capacity as President, to submit this application for membership in this esteemed body as a full Member State,” Mr. Kiir wrote in a letter sent to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“The Republic of South Sudan accepts the obligations contained in the Charter of the United Nations and solemnly undertakes to fulfil them,” added the letter, which Mr. Ban referred to the Presidents of the Council and of the General Assembly.

Any recommendations for admission must receive the affirmative votes of nine of the Council's 15 members, provided that none of its five permanent members – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States – vote against the application.

If the Council recommends admission, the recommendation is presented to the 192-member Assembly, where a two-thirds majority of members present and voting is necessary for admission of a new State.

Should South Sudan's application be approved by the Council and subsequently the Assembly, the country of more than 8 million people will become the UN's 193rd member. Membership becomes effective on the date the resolution for admission is adopted by the Assembly.

South Sudan's independence is the result of the January 2011 referendum held under the terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the decades-long civil war between the North and the South.

In a related development, the Council today decided to close the six-year-old UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), which was set up to assist the parties in implementing the CPA, and called on the Secretary-General to complete the withdrawal of all its uniformed and civilian personnel, except those needed for its liquidation, by 31 August.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council emphasized the need for an orderly withdrawal of UNMIS following the 9 July termination of its mandate to pave the way for the new UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS).

The Council also requested the Secretary-General to transfer appropriate staff and supplies, including “the logistics necessary for achieving the new scope of functions to be performed,” from UNMIS to the new Mission and to the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), which the Council set up last month to monitor the withdrawal of northern and southern troops from the region that is disputed by both sides.