Ireland has will have a “mammoth task” to secure a seat on the UN Security Council but at the moment “we’re winning”, claims Tánaiste Simon Coveney.
Speaking in New York where he has been working on securing as many votes as possible on the fringes of the UN summit, Mr Coveney compared the bid to a Seanad election.
“Some people have described this in our team as a bit like a Seanad election campaign; you know, you get a lot of yeses from people that maybe don’t turn out to be as solid as you think they are,” he said.
So we’re cautiously optimistic here. We’ve had a very good hearing from many countries, and we have a lot of very solid commitments now and a lot of them are in writing.
President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar have led a significant Irish delegation to the UN headquarters this week in a bid to secure the rotating seat.
Ministers Simon Harris, Richard Bruton, Katherine Zappone, as well as junior ministers Helen McEntee and Paul Kehoe have also travelled to New York in an attempt to drum up as many votes as possible ahead of next year’s vote.
Ireland needs two-thirds of the votes, or the backing of 129 nations in total, to secure a seat for the 2021-22 term, which will be decided next June.
Officials working on the bid hope that between 80 and 100 ‘conversations’ between ministers and their counterparts will have been held this week.
Mr Coveney said it is “dangerous” to give numbers on how many countries’ backing Ireland has secured thus far.
“This is a mammoth campaign, in terms of winning and for Ireland effectively to beat either Canada or Norway — who are two giants, really, in many ways, in terms of both spend and influence within the UN system — will be a very, very significant achievement. But I think we can do it,” said Mr Coveney.
Speaking at the UN, Mr Higgins said there is a clear need to reform the Security Council and said African nations and small island states need a voice on it.
“For any entity to have legitimacy it must reflect the make-up of the world in which it exists. Quite simply, as we all know, many areas of the world are either insufficiently represented in the Security Council or not at all represented,” he said.
“In particular, we continue to witness an historic unjust under-representation of Africa, which was still ruled by colonial powers when the UN came into existence and the Security Council established. Africans must be allowed to have a fair say in council decisions affecting their own continent.
“We also want to see consideration of a designated role for Small Island Developing States. The increasing effect of climate change on international peace and security gives this proposal even greater urgency.”
Mr Higgins told the UN that political reform of the council would lead to a greater sense of participation, responsibility, and ownership among the UN membership.