Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will promote Canada’s commitment to female education, tackling climate change and unlocking private-sector investment in the developing world at the United Nations this week – attractive priorities for many countries that Canada is seeking support from in its bid for a UN Security Council seat.
Mr. Trudeau will begin his three-day visit to the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday, where he will lead Canada’s campaign for one of the 10 rotating, non-permanent seats on the Security Council in 2021-22. Although Mr. Trudeau won’t deliver Canada’s main address to the General Assembly this year, he will spend most of his time at the UN, where a record number of world leaders are set to meet.
Canada’s Ambassador to the UN, Marc-André Blanchard, said nearly 130 heads of state and government will convene in New York this week for the “Olympics of diplomacy.” In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Mr. Blanchard said this year’s UN General Assembly presents a major opportunity for Mr. Trudeau to tout Canada’s commitment to the multilateral institution.
Mr. Trudeau will kick off his UN trip Monday morning with a speech to the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, a meeting on global peace held in honour of the centenary of the birth of former South African president Nelson Mandela. Many African heads of state and government are expected to attend the summit, contributing to the record number of leaders at the UN this year.
The Prime Minister’s agenda also includes a high-level panel on education, where he will promote the Group of Seven′s $3.8-billion investment in education for women and girls – a commitment Canada oversaw as host of the G7 leaders' summit in June. He will also deliver the keynote address at an event about financing the UN sustainable-development goals through increased private-sector funding, and is expected to highlight Canada’s commitment to address climate change.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly expressed his disdain for the UN, will address the General Assembly on Tuesday. The world will be watching closely as the President is poised to rattle the meeting with his “America First” policy for the second year in a row. Mr. Trudeau’s office did not say whether he is scheduled to meet with Mr. Trump in New York, even as the U.S.-imposed North American free-trade agreement deadline of Oct. 1 looms.
Roland Paris, Mr. Trudeau’s former foreign-policy adviser, said Canada’s priorities will appeal to two pools of UN member states that make up a large number of votes for the Security Council seat: small-island states threatened by climate change and African countries.
“The initiative on girls’ education in conflict-affected areas would be a disproportionately African-focused initiative and I think if you’re going to be talking about ways to mobilize private sources of development money, then clearly Africa is the continent that is the principle destination for development funds,” said Mr. Paris, now a professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa.
“I would assume that these meetings will permit him to make Canada’s case for a Security Council seat.”
However, Mr. Blanchard said the Canadian delegation’s agenda is not about obtaining votes for the seat. “This is about making sure that Canada is relevant in the world as much as it can be and that it leverages all of its assets to actually make sure that it contributes to make a better, secure world."
Mr. Trudeau will be joined by seven cabinet ministers in New York, including Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who will deliver Canada’s speech to the UN General Assembly on Saturday. This year marks the first time since becoming Prime Minister that Mr. Trudeau will not deliver Canada’s speech.
A senior government source, who was not authorized to speak on the record, said Ms. Freeland’s speech will mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and focus on the importance of human rights around the world. Canada has recently sounded the alarm over the human-rights records of Saudi Arabia, where the government has jailed more civil-rights activists under a new crackdown, and Myanmar.
Last week, the House of Commons unanimously agreed to declare the violent campaign against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar a genocide and to call on the International Criminal Court to prosecute senior Myanmar military officials for their role in the atrocities against the ethnic minority group. About 725,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh over the past year. Ms. Freeland will raise the plight of the Rohingya during meetings at the UN this week.
With a file from the Associated Press