The Multilateralist

Does Canada “deserve” a Council seat?

Last year, the United States was presiding over the Security Council during the annual U.N. meetings, and President Obama used the occasion to bring the focus to nonproliferation and disarmament. This year, Turkey has the helm and it’s focusing on counterterrorism. For a helpful primer on the Council’s involvement on that front, see here. As ...

Last year, the United States was presiding over the Security Council during the annual U.N. meetings, and President Obama used the occasion to bring the focus to nonproliferation and disarmament. This year, Turkey has the helm and it’s focusing on counterterrorism. For a helpful primer on the Council’s involvement on that front, see here. As in other areas, one of the persistent issues the Council confronts is ensuring that states comply with its reporting requirements. At the moment, the Council demands all sorts of reports from member states but does precious little to ensure that states submit them, or that reports are meaningful. 

In other Council news, there is at least one contested race for membership that bears watching. Germany, Canada, and Portugal are jostling for a single slot. In Canada, the race has become political fodder. As part of a broader attack on the Stephen Harper foreign policy, opposition leader Michael Ignatieff recently asked whether the current government had "earned" a Security Council seat. I’m not sure whether that’s good politics, but it’s certainly a refreshing way of looking at Security Council membership. The U.N. Charter states that the "contribution of Members of the United Nations to the maintenance of international peace and security" should be a leading criterion for membership. In practice, that often has little to do with which countries are selected (in perhaps the most egregious instance, Rwanda was on the Council as its government conducted a genocide). The broader U.N. membership often thunders away about the Council’s lack of legitimacy and antiquated membership; I wish the General Assembly would take its own responsibility a bit more seriously.  

 Twitter: @multilateralist

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