Getting the UN thing right

Mike Blanchfield, writing for the Canadian Press, says, in an article published by the National Observer, that “The ill will of autocratic countries like China, and some worthy head-on competitors, should compel the Trudeau government to campaign harder for a seat on the United Nations Security Council, analysts said Friday.” Those analysts are wrong.

The unnamed analysts are correct that some autocrats like Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin want to punish Canada, for various reasons, and will use their considerable influence to encourage countries to vote for Ireland and Norway, rather than for Canada, but that does not mean that Canada should “campaign harder.” What it does mean is that Canada should stop wasting time and resources, including international goodwill, and withdraw its bid for the useless, second clas, temporary seat at the UNSC table.

Mr Blanchield reports that “Countries vying for seats need two-thirds support in the secret-ballot process — more than 128 votes — and Africa is one of the most cpt91341813influential blocs, with 54 countries voting … [and] … Canada needs the support of Muslim and Asian countries and two of the major players in those regions, Saudi Arabia and China, have unresolved diplomatic spats with Canada. While both countries are influential in their voting blocs, China has spread its diplomatic footprint into Africa with big spending on infrastructure and by generously doling out its own development spending to win friends and influence policy … [but, he quotes Professor Bessma Momani, an international-affairs expert at the University of Waterloo, who says that] … “We are still being outspent by others and have plenty of autocratic countries who don’t want to see Canada get a seat and use it to be righteous in human rights, gender, and other values we hold dear” … [and] … She pointed to China, Saudi Arabia and Russia as countries that oppose Canada’s candidacy.

Mike Blanchfield also quotes Colin Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and a former diplomat, who said that ““Losing in 2020 will be traumatic for Justin Trudeau …[and] … it would be a rude shock to Canadians who think the world likes us” … [but, he suggests that] …  If Trudeau decides to campaign hard, the election is still winnable … [while] … Norway will likely win one of the two seats, but Canada could still edge out Ireland … [and] … Robertson said Trudeau should set a target date for Canada to meet the UN’s benchmark for development spending of 0.7 per cent of gross national income. Canada’s current level is less than 0.3 per cent.” But development assistance, which, as most Canadians understand all too well, is simply a bribe, will not be popular, not even with Trudeau’s base which is starting to grow worried about the economy and missed global warming targets and would rather see development assistance given to First Nations here in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should go to New York, he should make a short speech from the floor of the UN’s General Assembly, from Canada’s desk, not from the podium. He should say that Canada is standing for a seat on the UNSC because it feels that it has something to contribute; he should say that Ireland and Norway also have something to contribute and it is up to members to decide who they most want to hear from. Canada, the prime minister should say, is not going to try to buy votes with foreign aid, rather it will increase development assistance to our own indigenous people, in so doing, he should say, Canada will be trying to set a good example for others. Then he should sit down. That ~ basically one executive jet trip to New York and a couple of limo rides from and back to the airport ~ should the full extent of Canada’s “harder” campaign for a UNSC seat.

That rotating, temporary Security Council seat is worthless. In fact, I would argue that Canada can do more FOR the UN by eschewing any and all attempts to join the Security Council and, instead, as a principled outsider, argue, vehemently for major reforms to the entire institution: to the Security Council, itself, to the major departments and agencies, to staffing and to budgets.

If the UN didn’t exist we would have to invent it. It, the notion of a global institution, has been around for more than century. This modern, 20th-century version is better than the old League of Nations but it is still far from what most people, including most Canadians when they (rarely) stop to think about it, want.

Canada should be campaigning harder to reform the United Nations, to make it more efficient and effective ~ especially at things like military peacekeeping missions and helping refugees ~ and less corrupt. Instead, Justin Trudeau, Chrystia Freeland and François-Philippe Champagne are focused on joining one of the bodies that make things worse. He’s got it back-asswards, as some old soldiers say.

Published by Ted Campbell

Old, retired Canadian soldier, Conservative ~ socially moderate, but a fiscal hawk. A husband, father and grandfather. Published material is posted under the "Fair Dealing" provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act for the purposes of research, private study and education.

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