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Canada at the United Nations, What Next? A Conversation with Canada’s New Ambassador to the UN, Bob Rae

Date & Time

Jul. 21, 2020
1:00pm – 2:00pm ET


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s four-year campaign effort to secure a rotating seat on the UN Security Council ended in defeat in June. Canada received the support of 108 countries of a total 192 that voted on June 17 at the UN Headquarters in New York. Norway and Ireland, Canada’s two biggest contenders, received 130 and 128 votes, passing the required two-thirds majority of 128 ballots. Following Canada’s failure to secure a seat on the agency’s decision-making body, questions arose about whether the vote would alter Canada’s contribution to the UN. Canada’s next Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, the Honourable Bob Rae, will highlight Canada's contribution to the United Nations and present his vision to further engage international partners and promote the Canadian values of peace, freedom, democracy, and human rights in a time of global uncertainty.

Selected Quotes

"The estimates are that there are more than 100 million people who are displaced either internally within countries or globally – not all of them are technically refugees; people who are oppressed and seeking shelter from internal and political repression of some kind or another. But the issue of migration and displacement is huge, and definitely, COVID will make it more serious, definitely, climate change is making it more serious, and definitely, we need to galvanize ourselves into action... The numbers that we're looking at are daunting. I think it's important that we look at resettlement as part of the answer, but not the only answer. Part of the answer is finding the political solutions to the issues that have given rise to the refugee crisis."

"We also have to recognize that most of the member states of the United Nations, or the member states that represent the majority population in the world, are not necessarily democratic in every respect, and there are significant issues within almost every country. One of the things that Mr. Trudeau did that I really admired was when he went down to the UN for the first time, he spoke a lot about Canada's indigenous people, and about the relationship between our history as a product of colonialism and the imperial combat of the 16th-20th centuries, and the impact that it had on the indigenous population in Canada – not something you expect every leader to do... I think the reason that he did it was because he wanted to show that we're not afraid to talk about our problems, and we don't go into these discussions with a claim to be perfect."

"We ran against our two good friends, the Irish and the Norwegians... and we didn't win. I don't think Canada should over-read or over-interpret this result; I don't think it's a reflection of our standing in the world – what can I say? We lost an election, we didn't get enough votes... I think we've just got to get on with it, learn lessons, go through that process of learning why it happened – there will be lots of explanations – but I'm much more of the view that we've got to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again."

Hosted By

Canada Institute

The mission of the Wilson Center's Canada Institute is to raise the level of knowledge of Canada in the United States, particularly within the Washington, DC policy community.  Research projects, initiatives, podcasts, and publications cover contemporary Canada, US-Canadian relations, North American political economy, and Canada's global role as it intersects with US national interests.  Read more

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