Spain obtains a seat in the UN Security Council for the next two years.
On September 15, President Obama held a video conference with the leaders of Britain, Germany, France and Italy to coordinate the action of the international community in its fight against Ebola crisis. Inexplicably, the Spanish president was not invited to participate in this cyber-meeting, even though Spain has suffered the first contagion out of the African continent.
Meanwhile, Mariano Rajoy might have taken advantage of his absence to give the latest instructions to the Spanish ambassador to the United Nations; or to wish him luck before the voting that just a day later, on Thursday afternoon (Spanish time), lead Spain to obtain a seat on the UN Security Council for the next two years.
Belonging to the UN aristocracy —although temporarily, is certainly important, according to the retired diplomat and former Spanish representative at the United Nations, Inocencio Arias. I come up two major reasons. The first is obvious and shared by the vast majority of internationalists: the Security Council is the body in which the relevant UN decisions are made; those having real impact on the ground. That goes without saying that I do not intend to belittle the role of the General Assembly, or to look down on the intense and self-sacrificing work of the specialized agencies such as UNHCR and UNICEF and exemplary programs such as UNDP (it is a non-exhaustive list).
However, it must be remembered that the Charter of the United Nations confers on the Security Council “the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security”. Indeed, it is the only international body which can decide on the legitimate use of armed force, among other coercive measures (Chapter VII). So it has been since the end of World War II.
The second reason is that membership to this exclusive club stands for immediate visibility, positioning, and becomes in an automatic tool to exert pressure and influence. This does not mean having a VIP membership card to access the most sophisticated nightclubs in the Big Apple or the admittance in exclusive private lounges for smokers. It is much more than all those trivialities that despite its existence, today could be considered the exception that proves the rule. And if not, they should ask the diplomats who serve in countries like Yemen and Somalia, to give some examples.
Being part of the Security Council is a great opportunity to give a definitive impulse to our economic diplomacy, which is starving of contracts for Spanish companies. Let’s face it: this is the true essence of our brand Spain. It allows carrying value beyond our borders and widening the path opened by some of our most internationalized companies with the idea of gradually adding (even indirectly) the SMEs, the real business tissue of our country.
Needless to say that Spain has always maintained a strong commitment to the United Nations, both in the political sphere —through unconditional support for the principles and values of the organization, and in practice. For instance, we have promoted not only initiatives such as the Alliance of Civilizations and the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, but also have deployed over 137,000 troops in 28 peacekeeping missions since 1989. Moreover, the Spanish territory hosts a large UN communications center and, more recently, set up one of the largest logistics platforms for humanitarian response as a result of the cooperation with the UN World Food Programme.
The election of our country as a UN Security Council non-permanent member rewards the intense work carried out by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in the preparation and defense of the candidacy. It represents the final step of a year marked by the reform of the external service as a whole, which encompasses the adoption of both a new external action law and the regulation of the Foreign Service personnel. But mostly, Spain gains an essential instrument to raise its international profile and boost its public and economic diplomacy. From today, Spain is a player to be taken into consideration. So, will Obama call to Rajoy now?