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News, 7/23/2012

Membership of the UN Security Council: an important opportunity for Finland

Panel discussion organized by the UN Association of Finland. Photo: SuomiAreenaPanel discussion organized by the UN Association of Finland. Photo: SuomiAreena

One of the SuomiAreena discussion panels on Friday morning in Pori was dedicated to Finland’s possible membership of the UN Security Council and to the benefits from that membership.

The panel was organised by the UN Association of Finland and its members were Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala; MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen; Ambassador Pasi Patokallio, head of the Finnish UN Security Council campaign; and Antti Vuolanne, member of the Pori City Council. The event was moderated by Helena Laukko, Executive Director of the UN Association of Finland.

The Security Council is one of the UN’s five main bodies. Its primary function is to maintain international peace and security as specified under the Security Council Charter.

Finland has been a non-permanent member of the Security Council on two previous occasions, and it is now applying for a third term as non-permanent member in 2013–2014. Its rivals in the category of Western countries are Luxembourg and Australia. The non-permanent members will be elected by the UN General Assembly in October.

Empowerment for a small country

The panel addressed the question of why it is important for Finland to be involved in the UN Security Council and which aspects of its work it should primarily seek to influence.
“Finland is a small country for which membership of the Security Council would give influence over the actions of major powers,” Mr. Vuolanne observed.

Minister Hautala drew attention to the themes of the resolution on Women, Peace and Security. These were the priorities, she said, that should be highlighted if Finland gets elected to the Security Council.

The panellists also made their judgements as to whether Finland would get to wield real influence over the international community within the confines of its non-permanent membership. In this connection comment was also made about the problems with the Security Council’s structure.

“The Security Council is the UN’s most important body, and this is not the kind of opportunity you pass up. Membership would place us at the very epicentre of international decision-making and give us the chance to promote Finland’s views and values,” Ambassador Patokallio pointed out.

“Balance firmly on the positive side”

The audience were keen to know whether there would be costs to the taxpayer from Finland’s possible membership of the Security Council.

Mr. Vuolanne emphasized that the work done by the Security Council contributed to security in Finland as well, and by the same token to appropriate spending of tax revenue. Mr. Patokallio, for his part, stressed that in practice membership would entail no extra costs.

“If the aim is world peace and security, then active Finnish engagement means improved opportunities for Finns both at home and abroad,” Minister Hautala said. “The balance is firmly on the positive side.”

MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen said it would be useful to infuse a more global perspective into the national debate. “The UN is needed today more than ever. No country can alone solve the global economic crisis, environmental problems or development issues. We need to have a forum where these issues are addressed jointly.”

This document

Updated 7/23/2012

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