Experts: Becoming a temporary Security Council member may not be worth the effort
One example of a temporary council member gaining from its position is Lithuania, which was on the council in 2014 and 2015. When Russian forces occupied Crimea, Lithuania was able to call a meeting of the UN’s General Assembly and put the matter on the agenda.
The presidency of the council is held by each of its 12 members for one month a year, which is just the time when Lithuania was able to do what it did. For Estonia, this means that beyond the country’s campaign to get elected by the General Assembly of the UN, there is just one month of influence on the agenda and the meetings of the council.
Depending on the circumstances, this can boost a country’s foreign politics quite a bit. Tomas Jermalavicius of the International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS) in Tallinn says that Lithuania profited from its position on the council. “I noticed that Europeans were discussing that when Lithuania speaks perhaps it would be wise to ask other European countries to shut up, because when Lithuania speaks on Ukraine and Crimea it’s a Europe worth listening to. So that kind of visibility and respect the country gained because of its position.”
The General Assembly found that Russia had broken international law. Lauri Mälksoo, professor of international law at the University of Tartu, finds that Lithuania played a role in getting to this result. Mälksoo thinks that Lithuania’s chance to participate in the debate in a position higher and more exposed than usual helped confirm the view that Russia had actually gone against international law.
The question is whether or not the potential results justify the efforts. Given the short time Estonia would exercise such influence, the question remains whether or not spending millions of euros on such a campaign makes sense.
Preparations would have to start very soon. The members of the UN need to be persuaded to vote for Estonia. The government is planning to allocate a million euros for this work over the coming two years.
Kalev Stoicescu, Jermalavicius’ colleague at the ICDS, doesn’t see how this would make much sense. “The resources needed over two or three years to become a temporary member of the UN Security Council in 2020-21 both in terms of personnel and funds are greater than the real gain we can expect from it,” he says.