The UN General Assembly began voting Wednesday to elect five new members of the Security Council for 2021 and 2022, with battles underway for the Western and African seats.
Kenya and Djibouti were facing off for one seat, while in the Western bloc, three nations – Canada, Ireland and Norway – are vying for two seats.
In the Asia-Pacific region, India – which has been trying unsuccessfully to win a permanent seat in an expanded Security Council – is assured of a seat as it is running unopposed, as is Mexico in the Latin America and Caribbean region.
African nations have in the past picked their own candidate but were unable to put forward a single country this time, setting the stage for Wednesday’s showdown.
Kenya boasts of enjoying the support of the African Union, but Djibouti says it should have the seat due to Nairobi’s past participation on the Security Council and the principle of rotation.
French-speaking Djibouti and English-speaking Kenya are both highlighting their roles in seeking peace on the Horn of Africa, as well as their contributions to UN peacekeeping options.
Kenya has pointed to its welcome to refugees from Somalia and South Sudan, as well as to its support to the two countries’ fragile governments.
Djibouti, in turn, notes its strategic location and unusual role as a defense base for diverse countries — France, the United States, China and Japan — as well as its contributions in Somalia.
For Europe, the competition is more customary.
Canada is still stung by a defeat in 2010 during its last bid for the Security Council, when the General Assembly chose Portugal instead.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has invested heavily in the latest Security Council effort, with a defeat potentially causing him political embarrassment at home.
“At a time when there are large countries that are withdrawing a little bit from the global stage, I believe deeply that Canada can and should be stepping up on the world stage,” Trudeau said Wednesday.
Canada sees the Security Council seat as an opportunity “to build sustainable peace, and to make real progress on the issues that matter,” he said, citing “clean air, a real shot at success, a fairer economy, and just society.”
– Celine Dion vs Bono –
Hoping to woo delegates, both Canada and Ireland have wielded star power. Celine Dion sang in New York City to promote Canada at the UN, while U2 performed a concert in the Big Apple for Ireland.