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CBC News – World – Round 1 of vote for UN Security Council ends

In Canada on October 12, 2010 at 11:20
Voting for two UN Security Council seats began Tuesday in New York.Voting for two UN Security Council seats began Tuesday in New York. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)

The initial round of voting has just wrapped up Tuesday at the United Nations General Assembly as delegates decide who will occupy two coveted seats on the international governing body’s influential Security Council.

Canada is in the running for one of two temporary seats, along with Portugal and Germany. Germany is widely expected to take one seat on the first ballot, so Canada will likely go up against Portugal on a second ballot. Many nations promised their vote to Canada years ago, but only for the first round.

In total, 192 UN ambassadors will cast their votes in secret. Support from two-thirds of the countries in the General Assembly is required.

Canada will also be trying to guard against an unprecedented loss — the country has never missed a chance to sit on the powerful body. Canada has been on the Security Council six times, roughly once a decade, since the 1940s. The country’s last term ended in 2000.

The Conservative government doesn’t want to break that record.

Foreign Affairs minister Lawrence Cannon will be on the floor of the UN, rhyming off Canada’s global accomplishments for anyone who will listen.

“Well, I think that Canada’s credentials are above and beyond any doubt,” he said. “We have responded in terms of development. We have responded in terms of humanitarian aid. We have responded in terms of security in assuring global stability.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has also been lobbying hard. Just last month, he gave not one but two speeches at the UN headquarters in New York. He hadn’t addressed the body since 2006.

Critics argue Canada has had to fight harder than ever to win a seat, and they blame Conservative foreign policies, such as a decision to cut aid to Africa.

Yves Fortier who served as Canada’s ambassador to the UN under former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said high-level political lobbying may have started a bit late this time around. “I think we were out of the gate a little late, yes.”

Fortier also sees an advantage, however, in that Canada’s competitors — Germany and Portugal — both come from the European Union.

“It would be strange to see on the Security Council four European countries at a time when Europe is not the powerhouse that it has been, so I think Canada has a very good chance of winning.”

Former Canadian ambassador to the U.S. Michael Kergin agreed. He believes the council won’t choose both Germany and Portugal — that would give the EU too much weight on the powerful global body.

Still, Kergin warns Canadian diplomats have been feeling the pressure — partly because secret ballots are notoriously unpredictable.

And some countries have their own agendas, for example, winning a seat on the European Union, and may choose to support both Portugal and Germany.

Observers such as Kergin and Fortier remain confident Canada will still win the vote because of the country’s historical stature and its strong brand.

The permanent members of the Security Council are the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China. The council also includes 10 non-permanent members.

via cbc.ca

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