Ireland and Norway triumph in UN-vote ‘group of death’

It was not even close as Norway and Ireland beat out Canada for nonpermanent seats at the Security Council table.

Ireland and Norway triumph in UN-vote ‘group of death’

Ireland and Norway both won temporary seats on the United Nations Security Council, beating Canada in a contest Prime Minister Leo Varadkar described as the “group of death.”

India and Mexico also won non-permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council — the organization’s most powerful forum — for 2021-2022.

Of the Security Council’s 15 members, five are permanent — China, the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom and France — while 10 seats rotate every two years based on elections like that conducted Wednesday.

Varadkar said it had been a “tough election” but that Ireland’s position as the only EU country vying for a temporary position helped Dublin’s cause. “We are a small country that has a big presence and is a force of good,” he said, according to the Irish Times.

Erna Solberg, Norway’s prime minister, vowed to use the position to promote “more international cooperation to promote peace and security.”

Canada suffered its second loss in as many attempts, and will now likely have to wait until the 2030s to win a seat at the Security Council table — a three-decade absence.

Despite being a founding U.N. member and part of the G-7 and G-20, Canada’s size and history once again counted for little: the government of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper was defeated by Portugal in 2010, even as the former colonial power was in the midst of the humiliating EU bailout.

Canada had touted its membership in the Commonwealth of Nations; the Francophonie, an international organization of French-speaking countries; and the Organization of American States, as well as its status as an Arctic nation. Canada’s diversity meant it could be a voice for many at the U.N., the country’s ambassador to the U.N., Marc-André Blanchard, told POLITICO on Monday.

Canada’s relatively late entry into the race — as well as stumbles like Trudeau’s brownface scandal — hurt Canada’s ability to stand apart and make its case.

Each country had two votes in each regional category. Out of 192 votes in the “Western Europe and Other” category, Norway received 130, Ireland 128 and Canada 108.

In other regions, India (184 votes) and Mexico (187 votes) easily won their contests, while Kenya and Djibouti will head to a run-off vote for the African seat on Thursday, after neither country obtained the necessary two-thirds majority.

United Nations ambassadors voted in isolation and wearing masks — in individual time slots throughout the week — at U.N. headquarters in New York.

The result marks the end of years of campaigning, and deals symbolic damage to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s internationalist image.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer blasted Trudeau’s stewardship of the campaign this week, accusing him of courting human rights abusers for votes and tarnishing Canada’s image in pursuit of a “personal vanity” project.

“The prime minister can’t bring himself to criticize dictators and despots around the world who abuse human rights,” the official opposition leader said Wednesday.

Trudeau had deflected criticism of the bid from Conservatives by nodding to Canada’s 2010 loss under Harper, whose foreign policy he said was an “embarrassment” to Canadians.

Speaking prior to the vote, the Liberal leader sought to downplay its significance: “A seat on the U.N. Security Council is not an end to itself. It’s a means to an end,” he said, adding that Canada would continue to be a voice for others on the international stage, not just itself, regardless of the result.

Richard Gowan, U.N. Director of the International Crisis Group, said U.N. diplomats broadly agree Canada’s team “campaigned well.”

With Norway, Ireland and Canada all taking similar approaches to such core global issues as climate change, multilateralism and peacekeeping, Canada’s relatively late entry into the race — as well as stumbles like — hurt Canada’s ability to stand apart and make its case.

While Ireland and Norway declared their candidacies in 2005 and 2007, respectively, Canada jumped into the race in 2016: already too late to win India’s vote, which had committed its votes to Ireland and Norway in a vote-swap arrangement, .

The Canadian government shelled out roughly $1.7 million and employed 13 full-time campaign staff, compared to Norway’s $2.8 million budget and Ireland on $1 million. Ireland splurged on for diplomats, and Canada on Céline Dion tickets, BBC reported, in addition to giveaways such as greeting cards, chocolates and Canada-branded facemasks.

Trudeau spent much of his first mandate focused on managing tense free trade negotiations with the U.S. | Leon Neal/Getty Images

Norway went for a low-key platform backed by a big development budget. Norway is the world’s most generous aid donor on a per capita basis. With a population of just five million people, Norway earlier this year pledged $1 billion in assistance to the global coronavirus response, and donates close to 1 percent gross national income in development aid, compared to Canada at around 0.3 percent. Ireland has 474 peacekeepers deployed on U.N. missions compared to Canada’s 35.

In a separate election Wednesday, Turkey’s Volkan Boz kir was elected U.N. General Assembly President with 178 votes out of a possible 192 votes.

Source : Politico EU More   

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No place for anti-LGBTQ discrimination in Europe

Recent moves to curtail go against EU's core values.

No place for anti-LGBTQ discrimination in Europe

Amélie de Montchalin is French secretary of state for European affairs. Michael Roth is German minister of state for Europe. Aleš Chmelař is the Czech Republic’s deputy minister for Europe.

At a time when people are speaking up against discrimination and calling for greater equality, Europe should be leading by example.

And yet, within Europe, discrimination is still all too common. With some national leaders calling into question campaigns for LGBTQ rights, it is clear that the situation of LGBTQ people remains concerning.

Europe has seen attacks on pride marches, the declaration of “LGBTI ideology-free zones” and the adoption of legislation that prohibits legal recognition and certain rights for transgender people, among other measures.

We strongly condemn all measures leading to exclusion and discrimination, and strongly disagree with the curtailment of equality and human rights, such as denying the legal recognition of one’s gender identity, which may change over time.

Respect for human rights and human dignity are fundamental values of the European Union, and at the heart of our European project.

We are particularly alarmed by the findings of a report published by the European Agency for Fundamental Rights in May. According to the survey, 43 percent of LGBTQ people in the EU experienced discrimination over the 12 past months, an increase of six percentage points from the last survey in 2012. For transgender people, this figure has risen to 60 percent.

The fight for equal rights for all — and thus against discrimination, violence and other human rights violations against LGBTQ people — is an important priority for our governments. We strive for equal rights at home as well as internationally through our diplomatic channels, in bilateral relations and other forums. It is our common responsibility to ensure that European core values are respected, protected and promoted.

This is all the more important in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is putting additional pressure on the situation of LGBTQ persons, as they are often among the most marginalized and excluded. Germany, France and the Czech Republic strongly support the joint statement of the Equal Rights Coalition calling on all governments to limit the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on people marginalized on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics.

Respect for human rights and human dignity are fundamental values of the European Union, and at the heart of our European project. The EU is not only a single market or a currency union; it is first and foremost a union of common values.

This means we have the duty to combat discrimination of all kinds and ensure respect for these values within our union. Human rights and human dignity are protected only when the rights of everyone are fully respected, regardless of origin, ethnicity or sexual identity.

During its chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, France drew attention to the rights of LGBTQ people. Germany, which will take over the chairmanship of the committee in November 2020, upholds that LGBTQ rights are an integral part of the human rights policy of the Council of Europe and will particularly address the problem of hate speech, which often also targets LGBTQ people. The Czech Republic supports these initiatives in line with priorities of its chairmanship in 2017 focused on gender equality.

We remain committed to fighting all types of discrimination, including against LGBTQ people, and look forward to the European Commission’s proposals in the coming months for a strategy to advancing LGBTQ Equality in the EU. We will strongly support further actions undertaken by the EU to protect and promote our common values of respect and tolerance and are ready to work closely with all member countries, parties and actors on this essential matter.

The EU can only be strong when it recognizes what it owes to diversity and enables everyone to be who they want to be and to fulfill their potential as part of a diverse European society.

Discrimination is a human rights violation that should not take place anywhere in the world. We are firmly convinced, however, that Europe should take the lead in protecting and promoting equality for everyone.

Source : Politico EU More   

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