Canada fails in U.N. council bid

Wed Oct 13, 2010 3:27am EDT
 
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By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Canada suffered a humiliating defeat on Tuesday when it was forced to withdraw from the race for a seat on the prestigious U.N. Security Council, conceding victory to Portugal in the annual election.

In addition to Portugal, the 192-nation General Assembly elected Germany, India, South Africa and Colombia to two-year seats on the council. Canada had been vying with Germany and Portugal for the two seats in their geographic group but pulled out when it became clear that it lacked adequate support.

There are five veto-holding permanent members of the Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China, the victors of World War Two -- and 10 temporary elected members without vetoes.

But the elected members have some power because a council resolution needs nine votes in favor as well as no vetoes. Several Western diplomats said the presence of India and South Africa on the council would complicate matters if Washington were to push for new sanctions against Iran in the coming two years.

The five newly elected nations will serve two-year terms beginning in January 2011 and ending in December 2012 on the 15-nation body, the powerhouse of the United Nations with the authority to impose sanctions and deploy peacekeeping forces.

Canada has served six terms on the council and never lost a bid for a seat in the past.

In Ottawa, foreign affairs pundits largely blamed the embarrassing failure on Canada's belated campaign, as well as on policies which were likely to have alienated many delegations -- such as a strongly pro-Israel Middle East policy and reductions in bilateral aid to poor African nations.

But Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon blamed the opposition for what he described as an extremely disappointing defeat.   Continued...