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WIN! Harper agenda rejected by UN General Assembly

Brent Patterson gives letter with Council concerns to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Brent Patterson gives letter with Council concerns to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

The CBC reports this afternoon that, “Canada has dropped its bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council after coming behind Portugal in second ballot voting Tuesday in New York. Canada dropped out of the race because it did not have the numbers on the second ballot – 78 to Portugal’s 113. A two-thirds majority is needed to win a seat. …Germany won one of two seats up for grabs in the first round of voting earlier Tuesday. …It is the first time that Canada has failed in its bid for a Security Council seat. Canada has been on the Security Council six times, roughly once a decade, since the 1940s.”

For the past 18 months the Council of Council of Canadians has argued that the Harper government does not deserve this seat because of its refusal to recognize the human right to water, the fact that almost every country in the world has signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and its dismal climate policy. Toronto Star columnist Olivia Ward recently wrote, “Small island states at risk of disappearing as the climate changes are unimpressed with the Harper government’s stance on global warming. And Ottawa’s failure to back overwhelmingly endorsed UN measures on water as a human right and aboriginal rights has also raised eyebrows.”

Specifically, we highlighted:

1- The Harper government refuses to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. On September 13, 2007, 143 countries voted in favour of this historic declaration at the United Nations. Only Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand voted against it. Since then, Australia signed the declaration in 2009 and New Zealand signed in 2010.

2- The Harper government opposes the human right to water and sanitation. On July 28, 2010, 122 countries voted to recognize that drinking water and sanitation are human rights essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights. The resolution also called on member states to help poorer countries scale up their efforts to provide clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for everyone. An estimated 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water and more than 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation. The Harper government abstained at this vote.

3- The Harper government refuses to address the global threat of climate change. Canada had pledged under the Kyoto accord to a 6 per cent cut in emissions below 1990 levels by 2012. Despite that legally-binding pledge, Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions actually increased by about 26 per cent between 1990 and 2007. Harper’s new climate change targets would see our emissions rise an additional 2.5 percent over 1990 levels by 2020. In May 2010, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “I urge Canada to comply with the targets set out by the Kyoto Protocol. The science is sobering. Both the planet and the calendar are telling us that we are running out of time.”

We first raised our concern about Harper’s bid in a letter to the editor in the Globe and Mail back in March 2009. That letter can be read at

In May, we hand delivered a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that outlined why we believe the Harper government does not deserve a Security Council seat, which prompted critical questions in the House of Commons and a mention on the CBC National News. More on that at and

And in September, we faxed a letter to the 192 permanent missions at the United Nations expressing our concerns about positions the Harper government has taken on water, the climate and Indigenous rights. That’s at

Embassy magazine reported last week that, “For many, a seat on the UN Security Council is a matter of national pride… Yet over the past few months, a seemingly increasing number of civil society groups, former diplomats and even opposition critics have called for Canada’s defeat. They argue member states should take into consideration the current government’s foreign policy, which they feel has had a negative influence on the world stage. …At the forefront of the effort to undermine Canada’s Security Council campaign has been the Council of Canadians, a prominent activist organization that has long opposed the Harper government on a plethora of policies, especially those which concern the environment, international trade and military intervention.”

The Canadian Press reported yesterday that, “Some prominent ex-Canadian ambassadors (Robert Fowler and Paul Heinbecker), interest groups and even the current Liberal leader (Michael Ignatieff) …are openly questioning whether their country has ‘earned’ a seat on the council under the Harper Conservatives. …Groups as disparate as the separatist federal Bloc Quebecois and Council of Canadians interest group have questioned Canada’s UN worthiness.”

In a media release issued today, Council of Canadians national chairperson Maude Barlow said, “The Harper government has been the only government in the world to be consistently against these major UN initiatives and worse, has been actively working to undermine these treaties and efforts. With the Security Council vote the other 191 member states have sent a clear message that these positions are not in alignment with UN norms and that Canada cannot deny its UN obligations and still expect to be welcomed onto the Security Council.” Read the release at

Campaign blogs relating to the UN Security Council bid can be read at