International Policy Statement: Diplomacy in UN

As we saw in my first post, there are some substantive changes to how Foreign Affairs will be presenting itself abroad and domestically. Obviously one of the most important forums in which Foreign Affairs can effect global change is the UN and while much of what has been said about the UN in the Statement has been said before there are some specifics on policy that are new and worth noting.

It appears Canadian Foreign Policy makers have designs on what they feel is best for the Security Council… and these feelings don’t necessarily coincide with the expansion that the Secretary General recently proposed as a way to improve the Council.

First, lets look at what the Statement has to say about the UN specifically.

The substantive agenda on global issues described above is daunting. But it will be impossible to achieve without an effective means to deliver it: reformed and more focused multilateral cooperation. In some ways, multilateral cooperation has become a victim of its own success. Multilateral forums, which were originally designed for a relatively small group of countries accustomed to working closely together, work less well now with four times as many members. This has been accompanied by rapid growth in the rules to be administered. (Canada, for example, became party to 145 new multilateral agreements in the last decade alone.) As a result, the UN General Assembly and many other multilateral bodies are bogged down in procedure and formality, handicapping their ability to act effectively. There is overlap and inconsistency-for example, no single organization or agreement is responsible for the oceans.

A truly effective and credible Security Council must be central to UN reform efforts. Canada has long emphasized the urgency of reforming the methods of work of this key body. During its most recent tenure on the Council in 1999-2000, Canada devoted considerable effort to increasing its transparency and accountability. We continue to believe that reform of the Council must primarily focus on enhancing its effectiveness. This is why Canada has always opposed new permanent members and new vetoes. We support more efficient working methods and do not believe that an increase in permanent members would serve the interests of the UN as a whole, nor that it would enhance the effectiveness of the Security Council. This position is one of principle, independent of the merits of any specific country’s candidacy for permanent membership. That said, we do agree that the membership of the Security Council should more clearly represent the international community of the 21st century.

Canada will propose longer, renewable elected terms (for example, four years) to provide for continuity and depth of experience on issues before the Council. A requirement for regional support for these elected longer terms would encourage potential Security Council members to maintain their credentials as good international citizens.

Unfortunately, they don’t say whether they support taking vetoes away from some countries… such as the UK and France in favour of a seat/veto for the EU.

That question was better answered in the Response to the Security eDiscussion earlier in the year.

On the issue of Security Council reform, support was registered for replacing veto-holding EU member states with a single EU Security Council veto. On this question, Allan Rock, Canadian Ambassador to the UN, has provided the following response:

“There is no chance of France and the United Kingdom agreeing to cede their Security Council seats to a common EU seat in the foreseeable future. And now Germany is seeking a permanent seat for itself, but is opposed by other EU member states. As it stands, the UK and France make strong efforts to consult with the EU to achieve common positions on the vast majority of issues. There are proposals on the table now for enlarging the Security Council, but as yet there is no consensus. This issue may come to a vote in the General Assembly this year. The Government of Canada believes there should be no expansion of permanent seats, as this creates a problem of accountability.”

I, along with some others, also suggested that perhaps NATO and the UN could be somehow merged so that NATO could become a policing body accontable to the world rather than run by the Western powers and the UN could gain a standing military force willing and able to deploy quickly and professionally to anywhere in the world.

This was their response:

During the eDiscussion, it was suggested that the integration of NATO into the UN would afford the latter greater military capacity with which to ensure international security. There are, however, important institutional barriers to a combined NATO-UN entity: NATO is a transatlantic alliance. This entails not only benefits but also responsibilities for the 26 Allies (including collective defence under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty). In contrast, the UN is an international organization with a global vocation. There is, nevertheless, a robust and ongoing co-operation between the two institutions, demonstrated by NATO’s current involvement in Afghanistan, which is being conducted under the auspices of a UN mandate.

So basically they’re saying that NATO is an Alliance where its’ members agree to protect each other… and as such will always be a force that opposes and responds to threats against its’ members. It is thus incompatible with the idea that could act against itself… or one its’ members that is behaving badly.

So I guess I was sufficiently shot down. 🙂

Back to the Policy Statement itself. It is clear that with the “Responsibility Agenda” Foreign Affairs will be using it’s “new” resources in defense and diplomacy to try to push reform at the UN. Reform that will hopefully lead to a more effective and decisive Security Council… it has also stated that it will continue to push for the acceptance of the International Criminal Court as a legitimate body able to prosecute war crimes around the world.

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