Philippines clinches non-permanent seat in UN Security Council

Blas F.. Ople

NEW YORK CITY — At the San Francisco founding Conference in October 1944, the United Nations decided to form a powerful Security Council mandated to take charge of international peace and security. The five great powers, the victorious nations of World War II, were to become permanent members, each with a veto power on substantive issues (otherwise known as the P-5). That left 10 non-permanent, elective seats for all the other member states, regardless of size or power.

Over the years, the tradition has formed that election to the non-permanent seats shall be determined by these criteria: that a candidate country has rendered distinguished service to international peace and security, and that equity in geographical distribution is observed.

In recent decades, the non-permanent seats have been highly coveted badges of honor among nations. The classic contests had been fought among Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands, on the quota for Western Europe and other organizations, and between Japan and India, in the Asian Group. A candidate country must muster a two-thirds vote in the General Assembly, equivalent to 128 votes in the first ballot to win, or go to a run-off election until that threshold is reached. For example, when Japan and India fought, Japan got 140 votes to only 40 of India. This has given rise to the saying, “Don’t fight Fort Knox,” referring to Japan’s economic heft.

But it is also true that economic wealth has not always guaranteed the success of candidate countries. Suspicions of national arrogance can be fatal.

In this year’s Security Council election, the Philippines is fairly assured of a non-permanent seat because it is the only candidate unanimously endorsed by the Asian Group in the General Assembly. India, which loomed as the only potential opponent early on, has expressed its support for the Philippines. So has Pakistan. This is deeply appreciated. The strong support of ASEAN is of course critical to the Philippines’ bid. ASEAN now comprises all the ten nations of Southeast Asia. ASEAN Plus Three also includes Japan, China and the Republic of Korea. And the ASEAN Regional Forum is an even more comprehensive grouping, encompassing dialogue partners between ASEAN and the Great Powers.

In am therefore very confident that when the election of the non-permanent members of the UN Security Council is held in the third week of October, the Philippines will clinch the election right in the first ballot. Our Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Lauro Baja, has assured me that we have amassed the required number of 128 votes to win in the first ballot.

The election, originally scheduled for October 10, has been set back to allow the African states to settle their choice between Mauritania and Benin. Algeria has already been endorsed for a seat. The new date is said to be October 23, 2003.

I hear that the Philippines’ bid is not entirely unopposed. The opposition is not coming from outside but from within. Some retired ambassadors, perhaps speaking from a sense of self-frustration would like the Philippines to give up its pursuit of a seat in the UNSC, because it is not worth the effort. I suspect these are masochists who would like to punish their own country with permanent oblivion in the international scene. While they are free to speak, they have nothing to say except to confirm that they deserve their own oblivion.

Secretary Ople may be accessed at the Internet, through his e-mail address: secople@dfa.gov.ph and sbfo@yahoo.com and or his website: www.blasople.com

27/09/2003

Bron : The Manila Bulletin Online

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