Deborah Paul and Diedrah Kelly*
The last several years have seen multiple crises engulf global affairs, and we are in the midst of the most daunting one yet: the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to its early and decisive action, and whole-of-society efforts, Việt Nam has been a model of success in combating the spread of the infection, keeping its people safe, and preparing for economic recovery.
What is at stake around the world are not just lives and livelihoods, but also our international world order. The effects of this disease have exposed the inherent inequalities that inhabit all of our societies. Indeed, this crisis is both the biggest test to our modern multilateral architecture and the most significant opportunity to demonstrate that only through organised global collaboration can we defeat this common threat and build back better. Against this backdrop, the United Nations plans to hold elections in New York, the US, in June to fill the rotational seats on the UN Security Council for 2021–22.
Canada is vying for a seat and seeking to work together to sustain peace, address climate change, advance gender equality, and strengthen multilateralism. Canada has also placed economic security at the centre of our Security Council platform. Indeed, for four years, Canada has pushed for more inclusive growth through the Group of Friends on innovative financing it co-founded with Jamaica. All this time, Canada has been striving to bridge the gap between private sector investors and finance ministries around the world by leveraging the economic potential of developing nations.
Canada understands that peace requires economic opportunities both to prevent conflict and to maintain fragile truces. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made this one of the cornerstones of Canada’s presidency of the G7 in 2018. Now, in the face of this pandemic, Canada is redoubling efforts to address debt relief, supply chains and food security.
Through our development co-operation programme in Việt Nam, we are working together with partners on shared priorities. These include clean energy and climate financing, skills development for co-operatives and small and medium enterprises, and working to ensure that the most vulnerable groups - and women and girls - are able to benefit from economic recovery so that no one is left behind.
Canada was proud to support Việt Nam in its overwhelmingly successful bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. We have a shared interest in promoting respect for international rule of law, strengthening multilateral organisations, and advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda. We salute Việt Nam’s efforts to reinforce the linkages between the UN and regional bodies such as ASEAN. As a long-standing ASEAN Dialogue Partner, Canada believes that we are stronger together and that Việt Nam’s Chairmanship theme 'Cohesive and Responsive' is more relevant than ever in light of the pandemic.
One of the many areas where Canada and ASEAN have been working together is an initiative to mitigate biological threats to strengthen health security. Together we have strengthened capacities across the ASEAN region to prevent, detect and respond to emerging infectious disease outbreaks, including COVID-19.
More broadly in response to the pandemic, Canada has announced a contribution of Can$850 million (approximately US$600 million) in support of global efforts to combat COVID-19 and another contribution of Can$600 million for vaccine research through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Further, Canada has not forgotten about ongoing global challenges. It has also contributed Can$47.5 million to efforts to eradicate polio and Can$306 million to assist UN agencies and civil society organisations in delivering humanitarian assistance to address the needs of the world’s most vulnerable.
When the UN Security Council election is held in 2020, it will have been more than 20 years since Canada’s last term. Much has changed since then. The world is more interconnected than ever before. The opportunities are immense, and most often the challenges are systemic and linked. No single state, no matter how big or how strong, can succeed by acting in isolation. We all need to work together to be able to respond to the 21st-century challenges. Canada will continue to leverage its membership in many international institutions and will unite forces, leaving no one behind, to support a post-COVID-19 global system that is better prepared to serve all countries.
* Deborah Paul is the Ambassador of Canada to Việt Nam and Diedrah Kelly is the Ambassador of Canada to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations