Pretoria has assured its critics that it has learned some lessons from the first two-year term South Africa served from 2006-2008, when some of its votes ruffled feathers among other UN members.
Germany and India will take up their Security Council places with South Africa next January for two years.
They have made it plain they expect to gain permanent seats when the UN’s powerhouse is reformed.
South Africa has been more reticent about its ambition but its re-election to the council illustrates international support if a permanent African seat should become available.
It currently supports an impracticable position calling for two African permant seats on the council.
During its first term South Africa angered some countries and campaigners when it voted against a resolution condemning human rights violations in Myanmar.
It took a legalistic position on issues being brought before the council that South Africa believed should be handled by other UN bodies.
Foreign Minister Maite Nkoane Mashabane has acknowledged that the country should have communicated its position better and assured critcs that the relatively young democracy has gained international experience.