Ottawa plans to hire trainers in preparation for UN Security Council seat

OTTAWA — Canada is still vying to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council but it's already warming up the chair with a plan to hire trainers for Canadian officials.

The federal government issued a notice Friday saying it intends to award a contract worth an estimated $120,000 to New York-based organization Security Council Report to educate Canadian personnel.

The contract is expected to run from Feb. 24 through the end of the year, the notice says.

Canada is seeking a non-permanent seat on the Security Council, considered the most powerful UN body, for two years beginning Jan. 1, 2021.

It faces tough competition from Norway and Ireland for one of two available seats in the June election.

The council, which has five permanent members and 10 elected, non-permanent ones, can authorize military action, organize peacekeeping missions and apply economic sanctions.

The government notice says the training must "address thematic and country priorities of interest to Canada in its preparation for a seat on the council."

Canada has five priorities it hopes to pursue through a seat: sustaining peace, addressing climate change, promoting economic security, advancing gender equality and strengthening multilateralism.

Global Affairs Canada plans to give the training contract to Security Council Report, an independent, non-profit body, unless another potential supplier indicates by the end of the month it can meet the department's detailed requirements.

The organization's website says it works to advance the transparency and effectiveness of the security council by providing information about its activities, encouraging analysis of issues and assisting incoming members.

Global Affairs spokeswoman Angela Savard said Friday that as Canada pursues a council seat, it must get ready to fulfil the roles and responsibilities expected of elected members.

"This training will enhance Canada's ability to engage multilaterally on key global security issues relating to the UN Security Council's work," Savard said. "It will be valuable irrespective of the result of the June vote."

The tender notice indicates the sessions will teach Canadian officials about the council's mandate, dynamics, working methods, tools and powers including use of force, sanctions and fact-finding missions.

They will also delve into council relations with other international and regional organizations, resolution-drafting and negotiation, considerations about peace operations, the council's recent actions on various issues, and members' positions and interests.

"Canada is deeply committed to working with our international partners and has been leveraging all opportunities to discuss how we can build a more peaceful, inclusive and sustainable world together," says a note on the council bid prepared last month for Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne.

By the end of October, Canada's campaign to win a seat had spent just under $2 million on operational expenditures. That does not include the salaries of 13 full-time employees assigned to work on the campaign in 2019-20.

"A campaign for a non-permanent seat on the UN requires time and resources," the note for Champagne says. "Canada is running a fiscally responsible campaign, which will allow us to strengthen our diplomatic ties in the process and advance other priorities."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked former prime minister Joe Clark and former Quebec premier Jean Charest to serve as special envoys for Canada's candidacy.

They have both travelled to a number of countries to discuss shared priorities and to help advance Canada's bid, the note says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2020.

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press