In light of Canada not being voted onto the United Nations Security Council by the General Assembly yesterday, here's the background and other comments.
The United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday elected Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal and South Africa to serve on the Security Council for two-year terms, beginning 1 January 2011.You can read more on how it all works here on Wikipedia.
They will replace Austria, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and Uganda, whose two-year terms come to an end on 31 December.
To be elected to the Council, candidate countries need a two-thirds majority of ballots of Member States that are present and voting in the 192-member Assembly. The seats are allocated on the basis of geographical groupings.
Colombia, India and South Africa ran unopposed and were elected to represent their respective regions, having received 186 votes, 187 votes and 182 votes, respectively, in the first round of balloting.
The two available seats from the Western European and Other States category were contested by Germany, Portugal and Canada, with Germany winning one seat with 128 votes in the first round. The contest between Canada and Portugal went to a second round but then Canada withdrew paving the way for Portugal to win the remaining seat, with 150 votes.
The five countries elected today will join Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria, whose terms on the Council end on 31 December 2011. The five permanent members are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Ok, so I'm not happy that we didn't get on again but not surprised that we didn't.
That said, on a global political scale, I've never been a big fan of the UN or any non-sovereign undemocratic umbrella organization for that matter, especially the Security Council (UNSC) with the permanent members getting a veto. I mean, look at the two countries who are on it:
- USA: democratic republic and the shining light of democracy
- UK: democratic constitutional monarchy
- France: democratic republic
- Russia: former communist and now semi-democratic republic with a history of justice issues
- China: communist with a history of human rights abuses, justice issues, and vast economic interest around the world
So let's look at this more closely when it came down to the vote for the last spot for the Western Europe and Others Group between Canada and Portugal. My bet is that while Canada used to get voted on before, Arab and Muslim nations, including many African, European, and South American didn't give support primarily due to Canada's increasing and unwaivering support for Israel, coupled with the fact that we appear to be so closely tied with the US and the UK already. But I think there's more to it.
So what does this say about Canada? It's a bit of egg in the face, but other than that by history, every ten years or so, it was sort of our turn to be on it again. It's not that Canada is still not a strong voice in international affairs, it's that in the last ten years, there are a slew of other countries that have seen growth and development.
So what does this say about Stephen Harper as Prime Minister? It's not for a lack of trying but I don't think voters are going to change their support at all based on this issue, especially conservative ones. Even then, the last time we were on the UNSC was in 1999/2000. So since then, a lot has happened geopolitically wouldn't you say? Would a different gov't in Ottawa have changed any of that? Perhaps, but I doubt it. I doubt it because it's not that Canada has really changed, but that the world has changed. Dramatically.
Many people have a view that the UN is a happy rainbow of nations that gets together often to try and do good things for impoverished people and nations around the world, and does peace-keeping missions in war-torn areas.
The reality is that it's record is not very good. The list of places in the world where the UN did NOTHING to stop genocide, to stop war, to stop famine, is endless and far outweighs where it does any good.
The UN has become a sandbox for dictators, for crappy quasi-nations to beg, and especially for anti-Israeli banter. The UN Human Rights Commission membership is a total joke, admitting China, Libya, Uganda, and Cuba. Seriously.
So the more important question is, with Canada and our strong history of supporting democracy and human rights around the world, in not getting its usual turn on the UNSC, I ask you, what does this actually say about the UN?