Saturday, June 20, 2020

Small Loss

Don't sweat it, Ottawa.  Canada has lost to Ireland and Norway its bid for one of the two rotating, temporary seats on the United Nations Security Council.  Canadian human rights activist Kaveh Sharouz, writing with unusual clarity and integrity, notes

notwithstanding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s sloganeering on international affairs, Canada isn’t back. With a humiliating loss in the UN Security Council election, we seem to be exactly where we were in 2010. Getting Canada back onto the Security Council had been a cornerstone of Trudeau’s foreign policy, if for no other reason than to succeed where Stephen Harper failed. And now, having won fewer votes than his predecessor, Trudeau has nothing to show for it....

While Trudeau did not spend as readily as our opponents Norway and Ireland (the latter even splurging on U2 tickets for 150 foreign diplomats), he sacrificed a lot in this quixotic quest. To win the votes of unsavoury regimes and their allies, Canada kept silent on China’s mass human rights abuses, said nothing about Bashar Assad’s butchery in Syria, refused to talk about gay rights in Senegal, and voted against an amendment calling on Cuba to release political prisoners. The list goes on.

He explains his country is now free to reclaim its "voice for democracy and human rights protections internationally" and can

begin by taking the battle to some of the worst global actors. China, surely, is at the top of that list. There’s strong evidence it runs horrifying concentration camps for its Uyghur minority. It has taken away what little independence Hong Kong had left. Its malfeasance led to a far greater pandemic than the world would have otherwise experienced. And it continues to unjustly imprison two Canadians. Unburdened by the need to win a UNSC seat, we should abandon what a former Canadian ambassador to China calls Canada’s “almost humiliating” posture towards Beijing.

The same should be done with Iran and Russia, two of the most malevolent regimes on the international scene. Compelled by the UNSC race, we have been eerily silent when those regimes take political prisoners or when they slaughter their citizens in the streets. Worse than silence, our prime minister has even periodically hobnobbed with officials of a regime responsible for killing dozens of our citizens in the skies.

Being rejected by the United Nations should be considered more a badge of honor than a badge of disgrace. It's not Iran and Russia which that body- or its human rights council- is concerned with:

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