Canada will centre its campaign for a United Nations Security Council seat on the promotion of economic security and equality, a priority it says will appeal to the majority of countries in the competitive race for a spot on the body.
In an exclusive interview with The Globe and Mail, Canada’s Ambassador to the UN, Marc-André Blanchard, revealed the government’s five-point platform for the coveted Security Council seat. In addition to economic security, he said Canada will focus its bid on sustaining peace, fighting climate change, advancing gender equality and strengthening multilateralism.
Mr. Blanchard said Canada’s emphasis on economic security will ensure it stands out from its competitors vying for one of 10 rotating, non-permanent seats on the UN’s most powerful branch in 2021-22. He says Canada is the first country to call on the UN to consider growing economic inequality, often caused by high employment rates and hunger, as a threat to peace and security around the world.
“The real new thing that no other country will bring is this emphasis on economic security and this is our issue,” Mr. Blanchard said. “The vast majority of member states, we see that actually in their region and their country, the biggest threat to security is economic inequality.”
However, Ireland outshines its competitors on the peacekeeping front, with one of the highest per capita troop contributions to UN peacekeeping operations. Norway excels on the international aid front, contributing 1 per cent of its gross national income to development assistance in 2017, compared to only 0.26 per cent in Canada.
In the 2015 federal election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a commitment to “restore Canada as a leader in the world" and re-engage with multilateral institutions after years of strained relations with the UN under former prime minister Stephen Harper. Mr. Harper’s Conservative government withdrew Canada’s candidacy for a Security Council seat in 2010 when it became clear Canada would lose to Portugal. Canada last sat on the Security Council in 1999-2000.
The Security Council has 15 members: five permanent countries — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States — and 10 non-permanent seats that are chosen in rotating elections. Canada is competing for one of the seats from the “Western European and Others” group.
The Security Council has significant influence in determining what constitutes threats to international peace and security, calling upon parties to settle disputes and authorizing the use of sanctions or force to address a conflict; a seat on the body ensures a vote in decisions.
Mr. Blanchard said Canada sees inequality as one of the main “root causes” of conflict around the world. He pointed to the current conflict in Haiti, where demonstrators have taken to the streets calling for President Jovenel Moïse to resign over allegations of corruption. The protests are fueled by fears about the weak Haitian economy, ballooning inflation and shortages of basic necessities, such as fuel.
“There’s no way you can get peace and security and stability in Haiti without resolving this issue," Mr. Blanchard said.
The World Food Programme says three-quarters of Haitians survive on less than US$2 per day and more than half of its total population is chronically undernourished.
As a part of its bid, Canada will also prioritize the fight against climate change, which Mr. Blanchard described as “one of the biggest threats" to global security. Mr. Trudeau invited leaders of a number of small-island states, including Jamaica and Seychelles, to the G7 meeting in Charlevoix, Que., last year in an effort to put their climate concerns on the agenda.
Canada also made gender equality a priority of its G7 presidency in 2018 -- something it will carry into its Security Council campaign. Mr. Blanchard pointed to Canada’s leadership at the G7, where it rallied leaders to commit to a $3.8-billion investment for women and girls in conflict situations.
Mr. Blanchard said Canada’s campaign will encourage the UN to involve regional organizations, such as the African Union, in conflict prevention.
Finally, he said Canada will work to strengthen multilateralism by encouraging the UN and other multilateral groups to properly implement agreements. The UN has come under attack in recent years by some protectionist world leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump, who argue it is ineffective.
The 193 UN member states will vote for the 2021-22 seat next June. Mr. Blanchard would not say which countries have expressed support for Canada, out of respect for the secret ballot process.
“It will remain competitive until the last minute of the day of voting next year,” he said. “What we’re doing as a country now is making sure that we show the world that we deserve their trust.”