In The Media

Canada's pitch for UN security seat will cost 'financial and political capital'

by Laura Fraser (feat. David Carment)

CBC News
March 16, 2016

A seat on the UN Security Council will cost millions in aid and political promises to the smaller nations whose votes will be critical to Canada winning its 2021 bid, international affairs experts told CBC News.

The new Liberal government may also need to modify some of the tough language the previous government deployed against Russia and on behalf of Israel if it wants to play the mediator role that such a seat requires, one observer added.

Canada spent roughly $10 million to win its last term on the council, Carleton University professor David Carment said. That was for a post held by former foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy from 1999 to 2000. 

Carment also questioned the return on such an investment as the perceived power of the Security Council has begun to wane amidst infighting.

Fifteen members sit on the UN Security council. Five countries — the U.S., Russia, the U.K., China and France — have permanent membership, while the other 10 seats rotate between countries elected to them.

Canada competes against those in what's called the Western European and Other States bloc, which earns two of the 10 non-permanent seats. Every other year, two countries from that bloc are elected.

It's a position Canada has held six times since the council's inception in January 1946.

At this point, the two main competitors for the 2021 seat look to be Ireland and Norway, which have signalled their intention to run for a seat on the council.

Choosing sides

The UN was established in 1945 in the wake of the Second World War to prevent another multi-nation conflict. 

But Wilfrid Greaves, a fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs in Toronto, questions whether that's still a good measure of its success — especially considering the chilly relations around the table right now.

"As long as the Security Council provides an environment in which the United States and Russia and China, primarily, are able to discuss their interests and able to come to any agreement [then] it actually provides a valuable forum," Greaves said.

"I think that there are important roles the council can play, unfortunately, it's primarily as a talk shop."

In 2011, the Security Council alienated Russia after it allowed for outside intervention in Libya. And both Greaves and Carment said the council itself seems at an impasse.

Whether Canada could help heal that rift is uncertain, Greaves said.

"It's certainly not impossible that if we chose to dial down our rhetoric about the present government and President [Vladimir] Putin that we actually have the capacity to mediate," he said.

But Canada cannot expect to return to its past role of peacekeeper and mediator, and still plan to choose sides, Greaves cautioned. That's largely what cost the country its 2010 bid for a seat: the Harper government's close ties with Israel had a chilling effect on the Middle Eastern and African nations, observers said at the time.

"It's a horse-trading game," Greaves said. "And it'll be a question of what Canada is prepared to give up, both monetarily and materially."

The competition

Competitors Ireland and Norway have built up their reputations as international negotiators in the past decade at a time when Canada traded its peacekeeping image for combat missions.  

"Those are two very challenging countries for Canada to be up against," Greaves said. "Both, in their own ways, are more independent and viewed as more neutral.

"Canada is too closely aligned to the United States, we're too firmly planted in this kind of superpower orbit, and the role that we've played in the last decade or so has been more belligerent."

Ireland has boosted its reputation on human rights, he said, by becoming the first to hold a referendum on allowing gay marriage.

At the same time, Norway spent much of the 2000s helping to negotiate a ceasefire between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government.

To rebuild its international reputation, Canada will need to work in areas of the world that "don't make headlines" and re-brand itself as a country that's genuinely invested in foreign aid and foreign policy, something that its response to the Syrian refugee could help with, Greaves said.

"But anything can happen five years from now."


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS
 
SEARCH
PODCAST

Brian Mulroney as a Master of Persuasion: A Discussion with Fen Hampson

August 20, 2018

On today's Global Exchange Podcast, we sit down with the Chancellor’s Professor at Carleton University, and CIGI Fellow, Fen Osler Hampson, to discuss his recently released book entitled "Master of Persuasion: Brian Mulroney's Global Legacy".



EXPERTS IN THE MEDIA

Northern defence upgrades part of plan to protect Canada’s Arctic, Sajjan says

by Alex Brockman (feat. Rob Huebert), CBC News, August 20, 2018

Les Forces canadiennes dans un Arctique en plein changement

by Mario De Ciccio (feat. Rob Huebert), Radio-Canada, August 20, 2018

China and Russia strengthening relationship in bid to thwart US dominance

by Matthew Carney (feat. Stephen Nagy), ABC, August 19, 2018

Multiculturalism is here to stay.. but what about Maxime Bernier?

by Anna Desmarais (feat. Andrew Griffith), iPolitics, August 17, 2018

What happens when building pipelines becomes Fortnite?

by Chris Varcoe (feat. Dennis McConaghy & Kevin Birn), Calgary Herald, August 17, 2018

Gracing Canada on NAFTA: Experts weigh in, one year later

by Nicole Gibillini (feat. Colin Robertson), BNN Bloomberg, August 16, 2018


LATEST TWEETS

HEAD OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 421-7th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 4K9

 

OTTAWA OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6

 

Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: contact@cgai.ca
Web: cgai.ca

 

Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.

 

© 2002-2018 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001

 


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email