Six new countries will take seats on the 15-member UN Security Council starting on January 1. The election of Equatorial Guinea drew criticism from rights groups and transparency watchdogs.
Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kuwait, Poland and Peru won approval from the UN General Assembly on Friday to serve a two-year term on the Security Council.
The Netherlands was also elected by the 193-member assembly to take a seat on the UN's most powerful body as part of a deal with Italy to split the two-year term.
The Security Council includes the five veto-wielding permanent members - the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France -- and ten nonpermanent members elected for two-year terms.
A seat on the Security Council gives members significant influence over issues of international peace and security ranging from sanctions on North Korea to resolving conflicts in Syria and Africa.
The six new members will take over from Egypt, Japan, Senegal, Ukraine, Uruguay and Italy on January 1.
Corruption, wealth and poverty in Equatorial Guinea
The election of oil- and gas-rich Equatorial Guinea was criticized by human rights groups, who lobbied against the country taking up a seat.
The tiny African nation ruled by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema since 1979 suffers from "corruption, poverty, and repression," Human Rights Watch said.
The country's oil wealth has been used "fund lavish lifestyles for the small elite surrounding the president, while a large proportion of the population continues to live in poverty," it said.
The president's son, Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, is expected to go on trial in France on charges of corruption, money laundering and embezzlement.
Prosecutors allege corruption has fed Obiang's lifestyle of luxury cars, designer clothes, works of art and expensive real estate.
Obiang has also battled appropriation of his assets in the United States, resulting in a 2014 deal with the Justice Department to a sell his Malibu mansion, luxury cars and Michael Jackson memorabilia to raise more than $30 million (33 million euros).
Swiss authorities are also investigating him for money laundering.
The African Union endorsed Equatorial Guinea's seat on the Security Council.
New sanctions on North Korea
Separately on Friday, the Security Council unanimously approved new sanctions on North Korea targeting 13 officials, the country's spy chief and four entities.
The additional sanctions came in response to North Korea's ballistic missile tests that are banned under UN resolutions.
Pyongyang has carried out two nuclear tests and several ballistic missile launches since last year.
cw/bw (AP, dpa)