Canada and the Security Council 2010

Written by  //  October 20, 2010  //  Canada, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, United Nations  //  No comments

Is Harper’s ‘principled’ approach rendering Canada a non-factor
(Embassy) … in two recent foreign policy missteps, the government clung to its closely-held values even after the fact, in the face of widespread condemnation, and concluded it has nothing to apologize for.
That righteousness has experts warning that the government’s adherence to its principles has moved beyond lofty inspirational rhetoric toward a dangerous abandonment of the core elements of diplomacy, putting Canada’s future global integration in jeopardy if the government refuses to learn its lesson in time to mend relations.
17 October
Lewis MacKenzie: Thank you, Portugal!
(Ottawa Citizen) In the end we owe Portugal a favour for wrestling that final inglorious seat from our hesitant hands. Fortunately, port trumps maple syrup. Paradoxically, the UN add-ons, separate from the Security Council and peace and security issues, such as UNICEF, UNESCO, WHO and UNHCR as examples, do outstanding work and Canada will continue to contribute to their successes as we have in the past, absent the pseudo status of a temporary Security Council seat.
PMO ‘didn’t know what it was doing’ at UN: [Stephen] Lewis
“I got the impression in this election for the Security Council that the Prime Minister’s Office actually didn’t know what it was doing, that it was too arrogant, it didn’t have a careful plan of what might be done,” Lewis told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday morning. “As a result, our diplomats were largely hung out to dry.” The viciousness of many of the comments that follow this piece is quite staggering and truly sad.
14 October
Dozens of countries vowed to support Canada’s UN seat bid
(Global) Lawrence Cannon says Canada had 135 written assurances of support and 15 verbal ones in its failed bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.
UAE says it opposed Canada’s Security Council bid
(AP) The United Arab Emirates lobbied against Canada’s bid for a U.N. Security Council seat in the latest blow to relations that soured after disputes over airline routes, a UAE official said Thursday.
The Gulf country’s opposition followed harsh complaints about Canada’s refusal to open more flights for the fast-growing carriers Emirates and Etihad. The government in Abu Dhabi is also forcing Canada to leave a military base that is used to supply Canadian forces in Afghanistan.
The UAE official said the opposition was based on Canada’s “protectionist” trade policies and perceptions that Ottawa is weak on supporting Arab causes in the region, including efforts to ease the Israeli restrictions on Palestinians in Gaza.
Canada’s foreign policy
Snubbed — Better at doughnuts than diplomacy
(The Economist) Canada’s bid for a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council ended in a humiliating withdrawal, after Germany and Portugal secured more votes.
Stephen Harper’s Conservative government blamed the opposition leader, Michael Ignatieff, for the snub, because he had suggested that Canada did not deserve the seat. But many countries apparently share Mr Ignatieff’s dislike of Mr Harper’s foreign policy. This has featured outspoken support of Israel’s hardline government, alienating the Muslim countries that make up a third of the UN’s membership. Mr Harper has also made few friends in Africa (where he has closed embassies), or in Europe and among island states (with his feeble policy on climate change).
Canada lost UN seat because it lacked U.S. support: ex-spokesman
(National Post) The Obama administration is facing accusations it snubbed Canada in its quest for a United Nations Security Council seat by failing to campaign on behalf of its northern neighbour.
13 October
The soul-searching begins after Canada’s UN loss
(Embassy) “You cannot blame the opposition for having influenced any vote on the floor of the General Assembly, its too facile. You have to do the soul searching. And the soul-searching in my view starts and ends in the prime minister’s office.” [Yves Fortier]
David Frum: UN puts the blocs to Canada
Canada’s non-election to the UN Security Council is a disappointment to Canadians and a real loss to the UN system. But the greatest disappointment of all has been the exploitation of the disappointment by partisan groups advancing narrow agendas.
The Sierra Club suggested that Canada lost because Canada has withdrawn from the Kyoto accord on climate change. Anti-Israel voices inside the Canadian civil service have murmured to friendly journalists that Canada was punished for Prime Minister Harper’s staunch support for the Middle East democracy. Personally, I’m waiting for somebody to suggest that Canada lost because Maclean’s magazine’s coverage of corruption in Quebec offended La Francophonie.
… the Western European and others group nominated not the requisite two candidates, but instead three: Germany and Portugal, as well as Canada. By nominating three, the Western European and Others bloc forfeited its right of decision. That looks like an unwise act. Why did it happen?
The answer has nothing to do with Kyoto or Israel, and everything to do with the internal politics of the European Union. It’s the European Union countries that dominate the Western bloc. Increasingly, the EU countries have been negotiating these UN nominations among themselves first. They decide that they want Germany and Portugal — and then they muscle their way through the rest of the bloc onto the UN floor.
A European observer and Wednesday Night friend comments: David Frum’s argumentation does not fit into what I have heard here. No-one was FOR Portugal; quite few were against Harper’s policy on Israel. In North America many commentators refuse to recognise the facts: The anti-Israel sentiment is growing everywhere due to her illegal behaviour. If you cannot (dare not) get at Israel, then at least try to create nuisance for her friends…
The over-representation of EU on the Council is ridiculous and wrong. Canada should have had her place, but is not trusted any longer. Harper has done some truly serious harm. Canada’s standing as one of the “like-minded countries” has been badly dented.

12 October
John Ivision: PM has only himself to blame at UN
(National Post) … for the delegate for Vanuatu, a South Pacific island nation threatened by rising sea levels, Canada’s position on climate change must have been a more pressing concern than anything the leader of the Opposition might have said.
Canada’s aggressively pro-Israel position surely had more impact on the voting pattern of the 57 Arab and Muslim nations than Mr. Ignatieff musing Canada may not deserve its seat on the council.
And for African nations such as Rwanda, Malawi, Kenya and Niger that have been struck off Canada’s “countries of concentration” list under the Conservatives, the loss of foreign aid must carry much more impact than anything any Canadian politician has ever said.
A Scandinavian observer adds to the above The Arctic Council meeting.
12 October
Canada quits race for UN Security Council seat
UNITED NATIONS — Canada has withdrawn its candidacy for a seat on the United Nations Security Council after failing to gain the required number of votes in two rounds. Canada’s withdrawal means that the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the first Canadian government to have failed to maintain Canada’s record of winning a place on the UN Security Council once a decade since the UN was launched in 1945. Canada abandons UN bid in embarrassing turn for Harper … Mr. Harper’s office wasted little time assigning blame for the disappointment, placing it at the feet of Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. ‘Sad day for Canada’ sparks call for foreign-policy overhaul
It’s Stephen Harper’s loss
In politics, there are some issues that are thrust upon governments and that are largely unavoidable. Other issues are entirely of the government’s making. Stephen Harper decided that getting elected to the UN Nations Security Council was this country’s highest foreign policy priority – nobody forced that decision on him.
11 October
Insiders surprised by Israel trade announcement ahead of UN seat vote
International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan has announced a bid to strengthen the trade relationship with Israel — a move whose timing could affect Canada’s bid to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
6 October
Will domestic opposition hurt the UN Security Council bid?
(Embassy) … over the past few months, a seemingly increasing number of civil society groups, former diplomats and even opposition critics have called for Canada’s defeat. They argue member states should take into consideration the current government’s foreign policy, which they feel has had a negative influence on the world stage. At the forefront of the effort to undermine Canada’s Security Council campaign has been the Council of Canadians, … [which] has formulated a specific three-tier platform from which they censure the present government, namely on water rights, climate change and the rights of indigenous people.
Will domestic opposition hurt the UN Security Council bid?
5 October
Security council seat doesn’t amount to much
Since 1948, Canada has had six separate two-year terms, and it is difficult to remember what difference our presence on that august body has ever meant. That the foreign policy establishment is excited by the potential attention is natural, but the suggestion that Canada’s participation will make much difference is a canard. It should also be noted that our potential selection, while a strong possibility, is by no means assured.
29 September
OTTAWA: TORIES GET PARTISAN IN UN BID
(RCI) Canada’s governing Conservative Party has injected partisan politics in its campaign for a seat on the UN Security Council. Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon told an audience of international diplomats that opposition Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff is one of the few people who don’t think Canada should be elected to a Council seat. The minister added a claim that the Liberal leader is unable to put Canada’s interest above those of his party. Last month, Mr. Ignatieff questioned whether Canada deserved a Council seat because the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper had allegedly ignored the world body for the past four years. Mr. Cannon reminded the diplomats that Canada’s successful hosting of the G7 and G20 summits and its support of UN missions in Afghanistan, Haiti and Sudan.
29 September
Harper motivated by fear of losing vote, not doing good at UN: Ex-diplomat
Paul Heinbecker, Canada’s former ambassador to the United Nations, has raised eyebrows with an assertion in his new book that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s campaign for a two-year rotation on the United Nations Security Council seems more motivated by “fear” of being the first Canadian government to lose the vote than by the good that could come of it.
John Ivison: Harper the UN’s new best friend
Stephen Harper is no John Bolton, George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations, who was so skeptical of multilateral institutions he once said it was a mistake for the United States to grant any validity to international law.
Still, the Prime Minister has made it clear he is no fan of the UN. During his meeting with Shimon Peres in New York yesterday, he told the Israeli President he was disappointed with an “unbalanced” UN Human Rights Council report on the attack on a flotilla of ships in Gaza.
27 September
Don’t Give Canada a Security Council Seat
Despite the PM’s high-minded rhetoric, we haven’t earned the spot.
(The Tyee) Stephen Harper’s hypocritical performance at the United Nations, in aid of winning a seat for Canada on the Security Council, should be enough by itself for Canadians to rise up in unison and say we don’t deserve it. Both the NDP and Liberals have said that the seat is for Canada, not for the Conservatives, and that Canadians should therefore support the bid. But if Harper is successful, we will all regret it.
24 September
Paul Heinbecker: What to do if Canada wins a seat at the Security Council table
First and foremost, we need to take ourselves seriously again, to pursue an active foreign policy informed by facts and compassion, rather than by ideology and partisan calculation.
Second, we need to take the UN seriously again. We need to recognize that in a shrinking and integrating world, as the financial near-meltdown showed, good global governance has become an end in itself, or very nearly so.
19 June
Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU: le Canada intensifie sa campagne
Convaincu d’avoir marqué des points durant les sommets du G8 et du G20 en fin de semaine, le Canada entend maintenant intensifier sa campagne afin d’obtenir l’un des deux sièges non permanents du Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU.
May 22
Canada’s bid for a seat at the table is worth saving
Robert Fowler
Special to Globe and Mail Update
Last week, The Globe and Mail reported that the Canadian government was considering withdrawing its bid to seek election to the United Nations Security Council in the fall of 2010 — a startling state of affairs that suggests the government has no confidence in its own foreign policy.
Canada has served six times at the UN’s “High Table,” and it was my privilege to conduct the campaign that secured us a seat in 1999 and 2000 and to represent Canadians on the Security Council for the first 20 months of that term, serving twice as council president. It was a hard-fought campaign waged over three and a half years and, until the vote in early October, 1998, we never assumed that we would prevail over one of our friends and rivals, the Netherlands and Greece, for those two seats. Once on the council, we were able to improve the way the United Nations pursues its peacekeeping vocation by ensuring that the mandates of peacekeeping operations specifically protected the weak — the women and children caught up in the horrors that blue helmeted forces are sent to manage.
We also used our chairmanship of the Security Council’s Angola Sanctions Committee to name and shame sanctions busters (including sitting heads of government) who were shipping arms to the rebel movement, UNITA, which was financing their predations with blood diamonds. Once the arms suppliers and unscrupulous diamond merchants had been subjected to such scrutiny, the supply of fuel, ammunition and weapons to the rebel movement ceased, which led quickly to its military defeat and the end of a vicious 25-year civil war. All of which proves it is possible to make a difference through service on the Security Council.
21 May
Turning our back on the UN
JEFFREY SIMPSON
(Globe & Mail) Think the U.S. presidential campaign is long? It’s a sprint compared to campaigning for a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
Canada started campaigning four years before the vote on a two-year term in 1999-2000. Canada topped the poll in the Western European and Others Group, as it had every time it stood for election.
But this time, Stephen Harper’s government is hesitating before giving the green light for the intense campaign required, in part because Canada might not even win one of the two seats up for grabs.
Circumstances and the Harperites’ foreign policy imperil Canada’s chances in the secret ballot that will occur two years from now for the 2011-2012 term. At this early stage, Canada’s chances are no better than 50-50 to snag one of the WEOG seats, the other contenders being Germany and Portugal.
What does Canada have going against it? The recent Israel-right-or-wrong policy – reflected in various statements, policies and UN votes – has been sourly noted by the 50-odd Muslim countries that cast a ballot. The coldness toward Beijing also has been noted, especially by influential China, a permanent member of the Security Council.
In Africa, with 52 voting countries, there’s a sense the Harper government doesn’t care as much about the continent as did previous governments. As well, the Harper government follows Canada’s long-standing policy of opposing additional permanent members of the Security Council, a policy that irritates countries that want one, such as Japan, Brazil, Germany and India. Of course, European Union members usually vote overwhelmingly for each other.
Canada flunked the climate-change test, compiling the worst record of any country that signed Kyoto Protocol, a worrying factor for many countries, especially island ones.
If, as expected, the government begins to target aid to a smaller number of countries – an entirely justified policy – those countries that lose Canadian aid also will feel grumpy.
In short, there’s a sense that the Harper government’s heart just isn’t in the United Nations. Ministers don’t go there very often. Canada was once a key player on files such as the land-mine treaty and the creation of the International Criminal Court. That sort of multilateralism just doesn’t turn the crank of the Harper government.
19 May
Canada mulls decision to pursue Security Council seat
Canada’s planned 2010 bid for a non-permanent member seat on the United Nations Security Council may be aborted before it even begins, the Toronto Star reports. Fear of embarrassment that Canada might not be able to gain the requisite number of votes, the newspaper says, is behind the hesitation.
[We reprint the story below in its entirety because we have had frustrating experiences with the Toronto Star archives and this is a topic we will follow]
Canada a wallflower at UN dance
Inability to attract votes behind lack of bid for Security Council seat, say diplomatic observers

A seat on the United Nations Security Council is the most sought-after property on the international stage.
No question about it, says Paul Heinbecker, Canada’s UN ambassador from 2001 to 2004.
“The council decides on peace and war, it commands 100,000 troops. All countries want a seat, the Germans and Japanese bend over backwards to get one.”
But suddenly not Canada.
Though Ottawa announced in 2001 it would seek a council spot in 2010, the necessary campaign hasn’t begun – and may be aborted before it does.
Not for want of support for the UN, say analysts, but because Ottawa fears Canada doesn’t have enough backing to guarantee a win.
That would be humiliating, given Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 2006 speech to the General Assembly. “Make no mistake,” he said. “Canada intends to be a player.”
But last week, Harper said no decision has yet been made about playing the Security Council game.
The hesitation stuns foreign affairs veterans like Heinbecker, who warns, “It will play badly in the country if they don’t go for it.” [We wonder whether he is right. Does the country care, or has the majority of Canadians been gradually turned away from an interest in international affairs by the Harper government’s erratic – if not dismissive, as evidenced by the choices of ministers – approach to foreign policy?]
The council has 15 members; five permanent members – the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France – and 10 serving two-year terms. Two-thirds of the votes of the assembly’s 192 members are needed to win. Germany is virtually assured one of the two seats allotted to the “region” of Western Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Canada and Portugal would be competing for the other.
“But the numbers are dicey,” says Heinbecker. “That’s why they’re worried.”
After six successful bids, Canada could face defeat for the first time ever for several reasons, chief among them its shift four years ago to a more pro-Israel policy. It was Liberal PM Paul Martin’s move, but Ottawa has stayed with it.
In the past, Canada abstained from voting on the predictable series of anti-Israel, pro-Palestine resolutions placed before the General Assembly every year, while the U.S. routinely opposed them.
At the end of 2004, however, Ottawa broke with tradition and started to vote No with the U.S. and Israel. Then-foreign minister Pierre Pettigrew called it a “principled” approach, where each resolution would be judged on its own merits.
Since then, Canada has voted No twice as often as it has abstained.
“The world doesn’t believe the pro-Israel votes are principled, but political,” says Heinbecker. “It has reacted negatively to the shift.”
Many foreign officials at the time disagreed with the move, saying that no matter how distasteful the rhetoric of the anti-Israel resolutions, the General Assembly is the only place Palestinians feel they get a fair, if only symbolic, hearing.
The consequences of the shift are now coming home to roost, says Heinbecker. There are 57 Muslim nations, 25 of them Arab. If, as speculated, 45 of them move against Canada, it means almost all the remaining nations must support it.
There is no assurance of that.
Eric Hoskins, a senior foreign policy adviser when Canada last won a council seat in 1999, says he doubts “one foreign policy decision would tip it. The world knows that governments come and go. One position here or there wouldn’t affect the votes we’d get just on its historical record.”
Hoskins says myriad factors influence where a country’s vote goes.
Portugal is already running a “small country” campaign that will find favour with other smaller nations, especially in Europe, fed up with larger states always winning seats. And Canada has sat on the council more than any other non-permanent country in its region.
African countries no longer on the receiving end of Canadian foreign aid will get their payback by not supporting the bid, says a former diplomat. “Downplaying Africa can cost you at times like this.”
While Canada has a good reputation internationally, the world doesn’t share its ultra-high opinion of itself, he says. It isn’t considered “constructive and co-operative” on climate change, it’s only middle of the pack in terms of foreign aid and is far from the top in terms of peacekeeping contributions, even with its Afghanistan deployment.
But Latin American support can be counted on, especially since Harper declared the region a foreign policy “priority” last year, calling it “the neighbourhood.” [What have we done to implement that declaration?]
“Our people in New York are not pessimistic,” says the diplomat. “But add it all together and the numbers aren’t good.”
Doubts about winning surfaced the last time Canada ran, says Hoskins. The risk of losing was weighed against what had to be done in order to win.
“You have to lobby hard, be prepared to slog it out for 18 months, meet with UN ambassadors, trade something for their votes. It’s a complicated process.”
But worth it, he emphatically adds. As a result of Canadian initiatives last time on the council, the International Criminal Court, the Responsibility to Protect doctrine and protocols against the use of child soldiers all came into being.
Canada cannot forfeit that kind of opportunity, says Hoskins, even if there is a chance of losing: “What are we saying if we don’t even make the effort?”

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