Last night we heard the news: Canada failed to secure a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
It’s been two decades since we last contributed to the Security Council’s decisions directly, and it’s Canada’s second failed attempt in the past decade. For all of us, hopeful and champions of a generous, principled and globally engaged Canada, this was a disappointment.
I can say personally it’s a disappointment in the outcome, not in the people involved. On multiple occasions our team has seen Marc-Andre Blanchard – Canada’s ambassador to the U.N. – deliver a humongous effort. I appreciated that our Minister for Foreign Affairs Francois Philippe Champagne focused his press conference last night on recognizing the team. The first step of admitting failure is to take care of ourselves, and recognize it’s not the people to blame, but the process and result we can learn from.
But then, what went wrong, and why does it matter?
Those involved in the UN political system will say that the campaign started late, and that the race was tight or that Canada was too preachy. Those involved in Foreign Affairs and International Development (like we are) will say we need a new foreign policy in a new world and that we failed because Canada isn’t paying its fair share to global development efforts. Those who don’t care much for Canada’s role in the world will say this was a personal vanity project of the Prime Minister and their case-in-point: we didn’t get the seat.
Discussions on what went wrong are speculative. When a big public failure like that happens, many pundits will jump on the opportunity to make their point, and promote their worldview. At the end of the day, a vote is a vote and a big part of it is unpredictable. We had 108 countries around the world express that they would like Canada to represent them on the security council. That is not a small amount of global support to Canada’s leadership and voice. Ireland, who won the vote just ahead of us, garnered 128 ballots.
More importantly, the failure to secure a coveted seat on the UN Security Council is a huge disappointment.. We feel distress because we hoped that a win for Canada at the U.N. would bring a wave of optimism. It would have enabled us to provide a rational voice on the council to foster greater peace, security, pluralism and multilateralism at a time of global upheaval. It would have also meant that Canada’s moderate and conciliatory voice would have been around the table at a time of great international tensions – though we can likely count on Finland and Ireland to play a similar role at the security council table.
Ultimately, as Minister Champagne declared, there are many ways that Canada will continue to contribute. That is, as long as we remain committed to playing our part. From EWB’s perspective, our response now to COVID19 internationally needs to ensure that vaccines are accessible to all and means that Canada needs to commit much more to the global response than the current $850 million pledged. We also need to ensure that our support to economic recovery globally is strong and proactive as it will make a huge difference in people’s lives. That is why our #CanadaCares campaign matters today more than ever.
We must not allow a defeat at the voting table to curb our commitment and willingness to play our part in the global response. Without our continued commitment to end poverty millions of people in developing countries will pay the price of our disengagement. Canada thrives when we work collectively to extend a helping hand to our neighbours, allies and friends. Let’s continue to show that as the EWB community- that we care! Let’s show the world that CANADA Cares!!