Ireland steps up efforts to secure seat on UN Security Council

Tánaiste Simon Coveney engaging with regional groups ahead of June 17th vote

Tánaiste Simon Coveney. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Tánaiste Simon Coveney. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Ireland is stepping up efforts to secure a seat on the UN Security Council next year ahead of a key vote on June 17th.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has intensified engagement with regional groups at the United Nations and individual countries in recent weeks, as Ireland seeks to win a seat on the influential 15-member body.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, who had been expected to travel to New York ahead of the vote before the coronavirus pandemic hit, has been holding virtual calls with key stakeholders in recent weeks.

The United Nations on Friday agreed to proceed with the vote for the 2021-2022 session as planned on June 17th, despite the coronavirus pandemic which has severely curtailed activity at UN headquarters in New York.

The 193 members of the United Nations will vote in person, on a staggered basis, at UN headquarters on the day of the vote, though the process could stretch into more than one day.

Ireland is competing with Canada and Norway for two non-permanent seats during the 2021-2022 session.

Speaking at a debate on the forthcoming election on Friday, Ireland’s ambassador to the United Nations, Geraldine Byrne-Nason said that “effective multilateralism” was at the heart of Irish foreign policy.

‘Bridge-builders’

Highlighting Ireland’s status as an “independent and neutral country”, she said that Irish people were “bridge-builders by nature”.

During the debate, Ms Byrne Nason also highlighted Ireland’s support for Palestinians, expressing “deep concern” at the threat of annexation that was expressed by the new Israeli government.

“We have put the Palestinian question at the heart of foreign policy. We have long advocated a two-state solution,” she said.

Ireland has held a seat on the security council three times in its history. The last occasion was in 2001 in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Ireland’s recent commitment to quadruple funding for the World Health Organisation (WHO) — a UN agency — is likely to be welcomed by some members as a sign of Ireland’s commitment to the United Nations, despite questions over the WHO’s early handling of the pandemic and its relationship with China.

The UN Security Council has yet to take a strong stance on the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the world, amid tensions between two of its permanent members, China and the United States. The Trump administration has sought to highlight the virus’ origin in the Chinese city of Wuhan, an emphasis resisted by Beijing.

During Friday’s debate Ms Byrne-Nason said that Ireland would like to see the security council to work as it did during the Ebola crisis. “We would want to see the council back in that mode,” she said.