Election day here in the United States is still about one month away. But in New York today, the General Assembly is set to select new members of the Security Council for two year stints.
There are five non-permanent seats up for election this year. As is the case with most UN bodies, a set number of seats are apportioned via geographical region. There is one seat open for Africa, one for South America, one for Asia and two for what is called Western Europe and ‘Others’ (WEOG). ) ‘Others’ = the British Commonwealth, Israel, and North America).
There is only one candidate running for each of the Africa, South America, and Asian seats (Uganda South Africa, Columbia, and India, respectively), so those three countries are a sure bet. The big contest today is in the WEOG group in which Portugal, Canada, and Germany are vying for two seats.
The vote will occur sometime today. Anyone want to venture a guess as which two WEOG countries will make it?
UPDATE: And the winners are…Germany and Portugal. Germany won in the first round of voting. Facing a run-off with Portugal, Canada withdrew its candidacy.
UPDATE II: It’s recriminations time, Canadian style. Doug Saunders, a foreign correspondent for the Globe and Mailtweets: Given that this has been the number one diplomatic priority for the Harper government for 2+ years and reason for $1-bil G20 spend – heavens.
UPDATE III: More recriminations. This time, the conservative government is blaming liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. From the Toronto Star:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office wasted little time assigning blame for the disappointment, placing it at the feet of Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.
“I would say a big deciding factor was the fact that Canada’s bid did not have unity because we had Mr. Ignatieff questioning and opposing Canada’s bid,” Dimitri Soudas, Harper’s communications director, said in an interview.
“That was a factor that played ultimately against Canada because people outside of Canada were saying, ‘Well, Germany and Portugal have a united front, their opposition and their governments seem to be fully, 100 per cent behind this bid.’
Ignatieff’s offending comments? From the Star:
“This is a government that for four years has basically ignored the United Nations and now is suddenly showing up saying, ‘Hey, put us on the council,’“ he said.
“Don’t mistake me. I know how important it is for Canada to get a seat on the Security Council, but Canadians have to ask a tough question: Has this government earned that place? We’re not convinced it has.”
UPDATE IV: Bill Varner offers an interesting take on the significance of India joining the Security Council. For one, he says, it adds one more skeptic to the U.S.-led get-tough approach on Iran.
India signaled possible opposition to sanctions on Iran before the Security Council’s vote in June. India’s government released a statement saying it “conveyed to the U.S. that sanctions on Iran have proved to be counterproductive and that all differences with Iran should be resolved peacefully through dialogue and negotiations.”
India is one of Iran’s largest crude oil customers. It is also pursuing the import of Iranian natural gas through a pipeline that transits Pakistan, Oil Minister Murli Deora said in a written reply to a question in parliament in August.