The 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) bloc is likely to vote for Canada and Ireland to get a seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the 2020/2021 two-year term.
Representatives from Canada and Ireland were in Bridgetown this week drumming up support from CARICOM member states as the regional Heads of Government met for their 31st Inter-sessional Meeting.
Representatives from both countries spoke glowingly about their relationship with the Caribbean and gave assurances that they would use their influence to get the international community to address issues affecting the region’s economies.
Canada’s Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne made the pitch to the CARICOM leaders on behalf of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the opening day of the meeting at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on Tuesday.
Former Prime Minister of Ireland Enda Kenny spoke on behalf of that European Union (EU) nation.
Five countries – China, Great Britain, France, the United States and Russia – are permanent members of the 15-member UN Security Council.
Based on UN rules, the remaining ten seats are allotted on a regional basis, and Canada, Ireland, and Norway are competing for the only two available seats reserved for Western Europe and “other” groupings.
There are eight other non-permanent members. Africa and Latin America-Caribbean usually preselect countries through rotation.
The election, which is due in June this year, will be decided by the 193-members of the General Assembly.
Champagne told Barbados TODAY that Canada and CARICOM shared a deep relationship dating back decades and it was Ottawa’s intention to strengthen that relationship.
“We want to make sure that the youth, which represent 60 per cent of the people in the Caribbean, can be amplified in the world and that we can stand alongside you . . . to make sure your word is heard around the world,” he said.
Adding that his country was part of several groupings, including the G7, NATO, G20 and the Commonwealth, Champagne said Canada wanted to make sure that as those groups take decisions and deal with concerns, the challenges and opportunities of the Caribbean are taken into account.
Champagne said Canada understood the impact decisions taken by the international community could have on Caribbean economies, given their heavy dependence on tourism, acknowledging that those decisions could have “the biggest impact or disproportionate impact on the people living in the region”.
“So when Canada is on the UN Security Council we can speak with one voice. The voice of youth, women in the region, the voice of small and medium sized businesses, the voice of progressive leaders in the region – we want to make sure that their voice is heard at the UN,” said Champagne.
He told Barbados TODAY that following his pitch to CARICOM leaders he was “very optimistic”.
“I came optimistic and I leave even more optimistic that Canada can be this voice that can represent the best interest of the youth in the region, of the women in the region, of the values, principles that define ourselves that the world is so in need of when we are looking at the biggest challenges that we are facing,” he said.
Kenny, meantime, was not as vocal, but indicated that his country was a constant voice on issues relating to “peacekeeping and peace enforcement”.
“We are the only country from the European Union who will stand up for the small nations like in the CARICOM region, and for that reason we are in competition with two other good countries – Canada and Norway.
“And the CARICOM countries have an opportunity to vote for a small nation that has no other agenda, is not a member of NATO and will stand up because we have learned the lessons of what the European Union can do for small countries,” said Kenny.
Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves, whose country created history when it became the smallest island elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, for the 2020-2021 term, said he believed Ireland and Canada should be supported by CARICOM.
“The Irish have been around in our region quite a long time, and the Irish people have been investing in the region,” he said. “Of course, Canada is a next candidate and so too Norway, but unfortunately it is only two. But we would welcome them very much.”