Remind us, why does Canada want a seat on the UN Security Council?

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COMMENTARY

by Eugene Lang & David Perry

The Globe & Mail
May 7, 2018

It’s a clear violation of international law, an affront to the values of the UN, a challenge to the United States’ allies. The Security Council is called into an emergency session. The United States is isolated on the council. What does Canada do? We cannot hide in that room, and Mr. Trump wants and expects Canada’s support.

Which raises a fundamental question. Why does Mr. Trudeau’s government want so badly for Canada to be a member of the UN Security Council? It’s not always in our interest to be part of that club. As former prime minister Jean Chrétien told his foreign minister Bill Graham in the lead-up to the Iraq war in 2003 – “Thank God we’re not on the UN Security Council; our diplomats work all their careers to get us on the Security Council but there are times like this when you don’t want to be on it.”

For the foreign service, however, the reasons for pursuing a Security Council seat are powerful and worth the risks. Membership gives us prestige in the world, privileged access on which one cannot put a price, knowledge and intelligence of global issues that we would not otherwise have and some influence in the big global peace and security files. And we’re not on the hook permanently for the blood and treasure that comes with being a real global power broker. It’s a no-brainer.

Image credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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