Conceptual insight into the public discussion on 26 October 2017

On 26 October 2017, the Latvian Institute of International Affairs in cooperation with Embassy of the Netherlands to Latvia and the Embassy of Italy to Latvia hosted a public discussion:

"Joint Membership of Italy and the Netherlands in the United Nations Security Council: Lessons for Latvia."

 Conceptual insight is given by Brett Sherwood and Alina Clay

In contrast to the dark rain clouds looming over the city, LIIA’s event, entitled “Joint Membership of Italy and Netherlands in the UNSC: Lessons for Latvia” reflected the promise of a brighter future. Held at the EU House, the discussion was opened by Pieter J. Langenberg, the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Latvia, and moderated by Edijs Bošs, Associate Professor at Riga Stradiņš University, and featured the following three panelists: Herman Schaper, Professor at Leiden University and former Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the UN; Sebastiano Fulci, Ambassador of Italy to Latvia; and Aiga Liepina, Ambassador - Director of International Organisations and Human Rights Department. Attendees had the opportunity to learn about the inner workings of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and potential implications of the Netherlands’ and Italy’s experience for Latvia.

Edijs Bošs kicked off the event by providing an overview of the history of the UNSC and upcoming joint membership of the Netherlands and Italy. The UNSC is the primary branch of the UN that monitors global peace and security. As mentioned by Professor Schaper, the UNSC has a number of functions, including the following: mandating other international organizations like NATO to use military force, holding accountable all member states within the UN, and offering a platform to discuss, monitor, and solve security issues. The UNSC serves to advance mutually shared goals of inter alia promoting rule of law, preventing conflict, defending human rights, and increasing economic growth.

In an unprecedented move, the Netherlands and Italy have agreed to partake in a split membership in the UNSC for a period of two years. Ambassador Fulci revealed that what he views as a “connected consecutive membership” was not premeditated; instead, both nations foresaw the benefits of enhanced cooperation. Furthermore, all three panelists agreed that Italy and the Netherlands share common priorities and values. For example, both are committed to countering climate change, enhancing global security, strengthening peace, and defending cultural goods.

During this joint membership, both countries have been sharing information, exchanging officials, and coordinating events to increase their visibility and prestige within the UNSC. Professor Schaper pointed out that during the first year of the shared membership, we have already witnessed the formation of pragmatic solutions to global problems and closer ties between the two nations. Ambassador Fulci agreed that the UNSC membership establishes greater legitimacy and visibility within the international community.

All sides agreed that the UNSC membership would be a valuable opportunity also for Latvia. Ambassador Liepina said that preparations toward Latvia’s campaign for the UNSC elections in 2025 are underway. Latvia certainly strives for getting elected for 2 years (2026-2027) to be able to contribute fully to the work of UNSC, including, by defending the rules based international system and democratic values based on international law.  Furthermore, Ambassador Liepina stressed that the seat at the SC should not be seen as the end result of some intense national campaign for few years prior elections but rather as an important tool to develop state’s capacity to contribute to the global peace and security. She said that it would also boost her country’s  self-confidence . Ambassador Fulci and Professor Schaper both expressed interest in witnessing Latvia’s campaign and offered the additional advices. It was stressed that Latvia should look into possibilities to increase its contribution to the UN peace keeping efforts.  Due to the regional focus of UNSC work, Latvia should also make an effort  to diversify its bilateral relationships by turning to the other regions, in particular those which are not the natural field of interest for Latvia now.Above all, Latvia must determine for itself what contribution it can make to the UNSC. Ambassador Liepina assured the public that Latvia will be prepared to take on this challenge.

Pictures of the event are available here.

Published 02 November 2017