Western European and Others Group (WEOG) UN Security Council election candidates debate — Opening statement delivered by Ambassador Marc-André Blanchard

29 May 2020

Thank you very much to WFUNA for this invitation and coordinating everyone.

It is wonderful to have so many colleagues join us. I miss you all so much.

I want to congratulate Mona and Geraldine, and each of their teams, for a fantastic campaign. This has been quite a campaign for the three of us and our teams. And we know how tough it is for all of you to have to make a choice between us.

Canada is seeking a seat on the Security Council because of our deep commitment and trust in the UN.  And because we believe we can make a significant difference by making multilateralism more inclusive and effective. Particularly in the current context.

A lot like climate change, COVID-19 is reminding us everyday that the world’s problems cannot be solved unilaterally or bilaterally.

This crisis is about both lives and livelihoods. This crisis is highlighting the devastating impact of existing inequalities in each of our countries, and around the world. But worse, it is well on its way to deepen these inequalities, making the world more fragile, unstable and conflictual. 

Yet in this moment of a global crisis, the Security Council has been unable to issue even one statement. We all know the causes of the deadlock. But the sad fact remains that the Council is missing in action.

That hurts the UN as an institution and that hurts all of us. We are only safe if we are all safe. We are only strong if we are all strong.

Canada wants to work with all of you to make the Council work better. Despite an often divided Council, we’ve seen how elected members bring creativity and drive in pushing issues forward.

A titre indicatif, l'un des enjeux importants que nous souhaitons mettre à l'agenda de façon urgente a trait au multilinguisme. (Delivered in French, English translation: One of the important issues that we urgently want to put on the agenda is multilingualism).

Just to take the example of this debate: Canada’s national languages are both French and English. It is a competitive advantage for us in a way. Yet, I cannot leverage it this morning and use my own national language. I know that without translation, I may not be understood by many.

Si nous continuons avec la pratique de rencontres virtuelles, les six langues officielles de l’ONU doivent pouvoir être utilisées. Il en va non seulement de l'inclusivité mais aussi de la qualité de nos décisions. (Delivered in French, English translation: If we continue with virtual meetings, we must be able to use the six official languages of the UN. It is not only a question of inclusiveness, but also of the quality of our decisions.)

We want to work with elected members to deepen cooperation, to approach issues together, to build across national priorities. And build on each others work.

This is how Canada approaches global challenges. Canada is big enough to bring people together. But we are also small enough to know that we cannot do it alone.

If elected, we will organize formal and informal sessions where we will listen to you. To your concerns, your experiences, your suggestions. Not only after consultations, but also before. Bringing in diverse views, even in a divided Council, improves outcomes for all.

We also bring to the table our engagement across a variety of intergovernmental forums: the OAS, ASEAN, OSCE, the Francophonie and Commonwealth, G7 and G20. We are an Atlantic nation, we’re a Pacific nation, we’re an Arctic nation.  We are a country of the global North with deep and important ties to the global South.

Canada is a major supporter of the UN system: the ninth-largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget, sixth-largest donor to the UN Peacebuilding Fund and eighth-largest contributor to UN funds, programs and agencies. Our sustained, predictable funding has helped maintain UN operations during the liquidity crisis.

For the UN to deliver to people around the world, we need to strengthen the UN as a whole. To break down the silos and build on the various reforms. We need to build more meaningful ties between the Council and the General Assembly. To the Peacebuilding Commission. To the C34 Committee on Peacekeeping Operations.

We cannot pretend to build conditions for peace without building more sustainable and inclusive economies. There can be no peace if people are hungry and lack opportunities.

We know how many countries, especially the smallest and most vulnerable, feel left out of the processes where the critical decisions related to the global economy are made.

This is exactly why, just yesterday, Canada’s Prime Minister co-convened with Prime Minister Holness of Jamaica and the Secretary-General, a discussion on the economic and social consequences of COVID-19. We were driven by key questions:

How will we kick-start the economic recovery?

How are we going to ensure that we’re not erasing the hard-fought gains towards the SDGs?

How will we prevent some vulnerable economies and societies from crumbling?

We deeply appreciated the participation of over 50 heads of state and government. The SG mentioned to me last night that, outside of UNGA, he has rarely seen so many heads of state and government at a UN meeting.

The message was clear. Time is against us. Global solidarity, innovative partnerships and inclusive approaches are urgently needed. 

This is what Canada likes doing. Convening countries on tough and urgent issues that need concrete solutions.

We do not mind thinking out of the box. We do not mind talking about the elephant in the room. This is how you build trust, find common ground, make institutions fit for purpose and deliver results.

As Prime Minister Trudeau says, diversity is Canada’s strength. We will bring that leverage of diversity – and bring a commitment to inclusion – to the Council table. It makes for better decisions and outcomes.

Finally, what I hope you also know about Canada is that we stand up for our positions.

It has been 20 years since Canada served on the Council. Ideas that we championed in partnership with you, including Women, Peace and Security and Protection of Civilians, are now integrated into all Council deliberations. This has improved our collective response to peace and security.

We are at another critical moment for the multilateral system.

The nexus between development and security needs to be closer. Like climate change, inequality is clearly a root cause of conflict. 

This is why, together with advancing gender equality, addressing climate change, strengthening multilateralism and sustaining peace, economic security is a central pillar of our campaign. 

We know that to prevent conflict and build sustainable peace, people need economic opportunities.

It is this kind of innovative thinking and whole-of-UN approach that Canada hopes to bring to the Security Council as an elected member.

Thank you.

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