Friday,24 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1244, (30 April - 6 May 2015)
Friday,24 November, 2017
Issue 1244, (30 April - 6 May 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Gaining UN support

Egypt gained support for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council and reiterated its stand on nuclear non-proliferation during a visit by the foreign minister to New York this week, reports Doaa El-Bey

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Al-Ahram Weekly

“Egypt is keen to establish a powerful multilateral international system that will help face international challenges and respond to people’s aspirations,” Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri said during his visit to New York this week.

During the six-day visit, Egypt took part in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference and gained support for its bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2016-2017.

Egypt’s participation in the NPT Conference underlined the country’s prominent role in drawing up a draft resolution on establishing a nuclear-free Middle East.

“The conference is being held this year amid various challenges facing the non-proliferation system. It is an important opportunity to review the commitments and pledges that the member states agreed on in previous meetings and to reach new procedures and steps to be taken in the next five years in a way that respects the three foundations of the NPT: disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of the nuclear energy,” Shoukri said in his address to the conference on Monday.

He pointed to Egypt’s repeated calls for creating an area free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and called on the conference to ask the UN secretary-general to hold a conference attended by all the parties that will work towards that end.

This year marks the 20th anniversary since the draft resolution was published in 1995, but no steps have been taken since then for its activation.

Shoukri’s visit to New York also aimed to gain support for Egypt’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council.

During the visit, he met with different geographic groups, starting with the EU ambassadors to the UN and the Arab and African permanent representatives.

He met with the permanent representatives of the Asian and Pacific countries at the UN, the permanent delegates of the Eastern European countries, the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) group, and the Latin and Caribbean countries group.

Shoukri explained Egypt’s priorities that would be put forward at the UN once it was elected, Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel-Ati said.

“He stressed that Egypt deserves the seat given that it is a founding member of the United Nations and has shouldered a prominent role in efforts aiming at preserving international peace and security over past decades,” Abdel-Ati said.

He added that the permanent delegates of the Eastern Europe countries, the SIDS group and the Latin and Caribbean countries had voiced their support for Egypt’s nomination for the seat.

In his meeting with UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon, Shoukri discussed the situation in Libya, Egyptian efforts to unite the Syrian opposition, the recent developments in Iraq and Yemen, and the importance of implementing the recent UN resolution regarding resolving the crisis in Yemen.

Abdel-Ati said that Shoukri had reiterated Egypt’s commitment to supporting UN peace-keeping efforts, pointing to the growing threat of terrorism and its negative impacts on regional and international peace.

He added that Shoukri had emphasised Egypt’s interest in boosting regional and African participation in establishing peace on the African continent.

Shoukri also met with the head of the UN General Assembly and the Ugandan foreign minister Sam Cotesa, during which the reform of the UN in order to guarantee a more equitable representation on the Security Council was discussed.

Egypt is among several nations calling for reform within the UN Security Council, which is currently comprised of five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States), and ten non-permanent members that hold their seats for two years.

Security Council resolutions require a majority vote to pass. The five permanent members are able to exercise veto power over any resolution, whereas non-permanent members cannot. Countries that are not members of the Security Council may participate in meetings without a vote.

There have been calls from several states including Egypt to amend the make-up of the council to make it more representative of the current global balance of power. The permanent members of the council have not changed since 1992, when Russia took the place of the former Soviet Union.

Shoukri’s meeting with Cotesa discussed the boosting of bilateral relations. The two officials discussed the situation in the Gaza Strip, the situation in South Sudan, and efforts to peacefully settle the crisis there in addition to other pressing issues in the Middle East.

Shoukri received a call from US Secretary of State John Kerry in which the two men discussed bilateral relations and regional issues such as Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and combatting terrorism.

On Thursday, Shoukri delivered a speech to the Security Council on the role of youth in combating terrorism and violence at the invitation of the current president of the council, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Jouda.

He pointed to factors that have contributed to the emergence of extremist groups that try to spread extreme ideas among young people.

“He asked the international community to exert every effort to combat terrorism and tackle all the factors that have led to its emergence and spread,” Abdel-Ati said in a statement.

On the sidelines of the NPT Conference Shoukri met with his Iranian counterpart and the head of the Non-Aligned Movement Mohamed Jawad Zarif. Bilateral relations and efforts to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons and ensure the peaceful use of nuclear energy were discussed.

He met with British Minister of State Joyce Anelay, explaining Egypt’s stance on non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. He also conferred with his Algerian and Irish counterparts, during which he discussed the NPT treaty and the importance of creating an area free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

In its bid for the Security Council seat, Egypt gained the support of the Arab group during the Arab Summit in Cairo in March and the support of the African countries during the African Union Summit in January.

The vote for the non-permanent seats is expected to take place during the 70th UN General Assembly meeting in October 2015.

Egypt has sat on the Security Council as a non-permanent member four times, in 1946, 1949-1950, 1984-1985, and 1996-1997.

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