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Republic of Ireland wins two-year term on UN Security Council

Ireland received the backing of two thirds of UN member nations in the first round of voting.

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Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney welcomed the vote (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney welcomed the vote (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney welcomed the vote (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

Ireland has won a seat on the UN Security Council after winning 128 votes at the UN General Assembly.

Ireland received the backing of two thirds of UN member nations in the first round of voting.

The country has been campaigning against Norway and Canada for a seat for the last two years.

Norway topped the poll with 130 votes while Canada received 108 votes. Ireland’s two-year term will begin in January next year.

Speaking after the vote, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “I believe it was a vote for the values that Ireland represents on the world stage – multilateralism, freedom, human rights, and the basic concept that countries in the world should work together to build a more peaceful, prosperous and stable world order.

“Our return to the UN Security Council is a recognition of our work on the world stage over many decades, and we will use our presence to advance the causes we’ve championed – peace and security, conflict resolution and reconciliation, climate action, sustainable development and gender equality.

“Recent events show us, more so than ever, that global challenges can only be overcome when the international community stands in solidarity and works together through the UN system.”

The Irish Government has spent more than 840,000 euro on its campaign for the seat over the last two years and has spent that time lobbying other countries.

Our belief in multilateralism is a cornerstone of Irish foreign policy.Simon Coveney

Cultural events involving U2 and Riverdance have formed part of the campaign, while President of Ireland Michael D Higgins and Mr Varadkar met with foreign dignitaries.

Voting took place in a socially distanced manner in New York, with ambassadors given time slots to cast their ballot.

Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said: “Why does it matter that our small country sits on the UN Security Council?

“I’ve heard the criticism. The problems are too big and big states won’t listen. To those people, I point out that in the last six months the world has been threatened by a virus that knows no nationality, no borders and respects no superpower.

“Countries are fighting back but we don’t yet have a medicine. The only thing we have is shared knowledge. We have knowledge on how to slow the spread and how to prevent infection.

“No one country on earth will stop coronavirus, just like no one country on earth will counter climate change or hunger or Aids or poverty or gender inequality, or deliver peace in conflict zones.

“Our belief in multilateralism is a cornerstone of Irish foreign policy. The voice of small countries also provides global solutions.”

Mr Higgins said the election of Ireland to the Security Council is a cause for celebration.

“The work of a dedicated team has been recognised, and I congratulate them on having brought what was a principled campaign, in a competitive environment, to both fruition and success,” Mr Higgins said.

“The support Ireland has received vindicates the decision to run a campaign that did not avoid the issues that are urgent; a campaign that engaged with global issues, such as peace-building and peacekeeping, the elimination of global poverty, the strengthening of multilateralism, and reform of the United Nations.”

Irish officials told the PA news agency they are breathing a sigh of relief following the vote.

They said: “Ahead of the vote we thought our chances were 60/40.

“Officials couldn’t get a lay of the land as to where the vote would go. Usually we would all see what is going on but campaigning has been going on the phone or over Zoom calls, it was hard to draw people out.

“Norway had spent around 2 million euros on their bid, they are already a Nato member and had obvious credentials when it came to security matters.

“Canada has retreated from the global stage somewhat in recent years but since Trudeau became leader, he has really pushed for them to get back elected to the Security Council.

“Unlike Ireland it has the added advantage of being an English and French speaking country and can link to some countries in Africa.”

Officials say Ireland’s history helped it in the campaign. “We have a history of empathy… we have our history which featured famine, sectarian conflict, civil war – this is what emerging countries will be coming to terms with after Covid-19.”

One diplomat said the endorsement of the campaign form Bono helped but it was one strand of Ireland’s overall campaign.

“Bono is a household name and a great communicator and needs no introduction on the global stage. It won’t be a case of saying one individual was responsible if we win… the work on this across all streams has been ongoing for years.”

PA