Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had been travelling the world last week seeking approval from African countries in his campaign for Canada’s hope of a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
The UNSC is comprised of five permanent members–China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States–and 10 non-permanent members elected for two years, which currently includes Belgium, Germany and South Africa. For the remaining countries, they are allowed to participate in debates, though without the benefits of having a vote.
The UNSC is the principal body of the United Nations with the goal of maintaining international peace and establishing what is a threat to international security. In a situation where two states are in conflict, for example Israel and Palestine, the security council is in charge of setting the terms of settlement.
But would Canada, a non-council member state–i.e. doesn’t have a vote–actually get a permanent seat on the security council?
It is important to note that all permanent member states are nuclear powers. Now, whether the UNSC represents an international distribution of power is up to a political science debate, but Canada is not a nuclear state because it doesn’t have nuclear weapons. In fact, it is reliant on US anti-missile systems. Furthermore, if Canada was to launch an all-out nuclear buildup, the country would lose all international credibility as it signed and ratified the Non-Proliferation Treaty, an international treaty that prohibits countries from developing nuclear weapons. After all, there are many countries with nuclear power who would have the lead on attaining a spot on the UNSC before Canada does like India, Pakistan or Israel.
Being a member state also holds big responsibilities since they become the main actors of international peace. Is the US’s little northern brother really going to make a difference and stand its grounds on certain issues when it cannot even address its own? I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Graphic by Victoria Blair