Elections yield new UNSC membership

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly elected new non-permanent members of the Security Council last week at the organization’s headquarters in New York. As part of the yearly rotation process, five countries were to be selected to replace the members whose two-year term ends this December.

India, Colombia, South Africa, Germany and Portugal went home victorious; Canada lived another story.

India, Colombia and South Africa ran unopposed for the seats corresponding to their regions. Germany, Portugal and Canada were running for the two open seats for the Western European and Others Group.

The first round of votes resulted in the election of the three solo runners, as well as Germany´s appointment for passing the two-thirds majority, with a total of 128 votes. A second round was held between Canada and Portugal with an outcome favorable to the latter, but still below the majority needed. With this result, the Canadian government decided to step out of the race. Portugal was therefore elected.

Alistair Edgar, executive director of the Academic Council on the United Nations System, commented for The Cord “From the permanent representative John McNee [withdrawing Canada’s candidacy] was the right diplomatic thing to do.”

He explained that, even when the election process is not a popularity contest, “Countries recognize what you have and haven’t done [and] this government, unfortunately, has walked away from the United Nations.”

Canada’s role in peacekeeping has decreased immensely since the ‘90s; the amount of aid to African countries has been cut down; “we neglected all our responsibilities towards the UN,” Edgar declared. “We’ve gotten what we deserve, we didn’t deserve to get a seat on the Security Council.”

Edgar also commented on Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon’s statement blaming the leader of the opposition for Canada’s failure, “Nobody in the Security Council cares about Michael Ignatieff. They will only if he becomes prime minister. That kind of internal debate is completely irrelevant.”

Canada, one of the United Nations founding members, has served on the Council every decade since most recently in 1999-2000. This is the first time the request was not accepted by the General Assembly. Canada will have to wait another decade in order to be considered again.
The elected countries will join the five permanent members and the five non-permanent members who were appointed last year. The newly elected Security Council will have to deal with important issues on world peace and conflicts as of January 2011.

The continuing war in Afghanistan, the sanctions against Iran, the referendum for the possible independence of south Sudan and the many problems in the Congo will be between the main issues on the agenda. “What people don’t see is the amount of work that the Security Council members do looking after situations like that”, commented Edgar. He described the role of the organization as one that if done well is unnoticeable, but if it disappeared, problems around the world will start to erupt.

Five by five

India secured 187 out of 192 votes for their seat, a record for the Security Council

Colombia is celebrating its sixth election to the Security Council. Initially opposed by Bolivia, it was said Colombia would favour the interests of the US, a permanent member

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel believes that the Security Council should reflect the world of today as opposed to the policies from 1945, as Germany is the third largest contributor to the UN

The outgoing members of the Security Council include Japan, Mexico, Uganda, Austria and Turkey