Why Canada lost a Security Council seatOn Friday, I reported that Portugal had upgraded its relations with the 'Palestinian Authority,' just a few days after defeating Canada for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. I implied that was likely a quid pro quo for Portugal's election. It's worse than that. Canada's candidacy was voted down because of its close relations with Israel, and the United States did nothing to intervene on behalf of two of its closest allies.
Canada’s failure to capture a seat on next year’s Security Council will break a tradition in which America’s northern neighbor has been elected to the most prestigious United Nations body in every decade since 1948. Diplomats here say Brazil was instrumental in handing defeat to Prime Minister Harper in an international contest that pitted Canada, a traditional U.N. power house, against one of the European Union’s least powerful countries – Portugal.I suppose no one should be too surprised at the Obama administration's inaction. In fact, having Portugal rather than Canada on the Security Council may actually help the Obama administration by ensuring that if it chooses not to exercise its veto in the Security Council, there won't be any country voting against Israel.
Canada withdrew its candidacy in today’s election for five available council slots after it realized that Portugal had sewn up enough General Assembly votes in the secret ballot to win the only contested seat. Several sources told me that members of a powerful voting bloc in the 192-member assembly – the 57 countries of the Organizations of Islamic Conference – were united in voting for Portugal over Canada, mostly because of Mr. Harper’s record of supporting Israel.
In addition to the OIC, anti-Western countries like Cuba and Venezuela have been active in opposing Canada’s candidacy. Mr. Harper’s right-of-center government, which had originally tried to stay above the fray, increased its efforts in the final weeks, mounting a world-wide campaign to capture the council seat.
But a diplomat familiar with the behind-the-scenes horse trading that marks the annual General Assembly vote tells me that top diplomats from Portuguese-speaking Brazil became particularly active in the last few weeks, convincing Muslim countries that “Canada’s vote on Israel-related issues will be no different than that of the United States, while Portugal would be more balanced.”
Only a few years ago, the American ambassador here would have made a public issue in defense of Canada. But in the maneuvering leading to today’s vote, American diplomats were all but absent.
Paul Mirengoff has more comments here.