UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Canada will campaign for a seat on the United Nations Security Council in 2021-2022, new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday, seeking to repair battered relations with the world body.
Canada has previously served six terms on the 15-member council, but suffered a humiliating defeat in 2010 under Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who favored a more unilateral approach to diplomacy.
“Protecting vulnerable populations, leading on the world’s stage and engaging on some of this era’s greatest challenges - this is the Canada of today, this is how we build the world of tomorrow,” Trudeau told reporters and diplomats during a visit to the United Nations in New York.
Canada will now be competing against Ireland and Norway for two spots. A spokeswoman for the San Marino Department of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday the country had dropped out of the race.
The 15-member council has five veto-powers - the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China - and 10 members elected for two-year terms. The 193-member U.N. General Assembly will hold an election in 2020 for the seat Canada wants.
“Our last term concluded in 2000. With a renewed commitment to international peace and security, now is the time for our return,” Trudeau said.
The new Liberal government, Trudeau added, was determined to revitalize what he called Canada’s historic role as a key contributor to U.N. peacekeeping. Ottawa would offer troops and police as well as backing efforts to strengthen civil society.
U.N. peacekeeping officials have told Canada it can offer a great deal, such as French-speaking soldiers and police as well as experts in various areas.
“Given our modest size, it’s not through weight of numbers that we can make a massive difference, but through the quality of our engagement,” said Trudeau, adding it was too early to say what exactly Canada might offer and where.
Foreign affairs analysts largely blamed the 2010 failure on a patchy Canadian campaign and policies likely to have alienated large voting blocs, such as a strong pro-Israel Middle East policy and reductions in aid to poor African nations.
Trudeau’s Liberals came to power last November, toppling Harper’s Conservatives after nine years in power.
Trudeau will also meet with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday.
Additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by James Dalgleish and Chizu Nomiyama