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  • Writer's pictureEuropean Waves

Mexico as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council

“We do not want military cooperation, we do not want them to support us with armed helicopters…We want cooperation for development because peace is the fruit of justice”[1]

These words were spoken by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador last June after Mexico was elected as a non-permanent member of the UN security council for the 2021-2022 period. Mexico’s decision to apply to a place in the Security Council is part of a long-standing political tradition: Mexico has been continuously campaigning for preventive diplomacy, sustainable development and peace-keeping operations.

Mexico’s 2020 election in the UN’s body responsible for the maintenance of peace and security is significant for three reasons. First of all, out of the five non-permanent members elected – Ireland, India, Kenia, Norway and Mexico – Mexico was the one who received the majority of votes with 187 votes and 5 abstentions. Thus, the election not only positions Mexico in the international arena, but reinforces its position as a Latin American leader. Secondly, the support for Mexico’s candidature by the Group of the Latin American and the Caribbean (GRULAC) highlights that these countries are cooperating multilaterally to defend and present the regional, subregional and national concerns of the region to the highest common governance body.  Lastly, it is the only country that was elected for two UN Organs on the same day, the Social and Economic Council (ECOSOC) and the Security Council. With its membership in both UN bodies, Mexico will seek for the articulation of politics with social and economic decision spheres.

For Mexico, this election represents the recognition of the International Community of the Mexican nation, of the Mexican diplomatic trajectory, but also overall of the Mexican foreign policy. Mexico’s foreign policy has been driven by its constitutional principles of the right to self-determination; non-intervention; peaceful solution of controversies; outlawing the use of force or threat in international relations; equal rights of states; international cooperation for development; the respect, protection and promotion of human rights; and the struggle for international peace and security[2]. These principles have determined Mexico’s actions within the UN Government bodies and resulted in its seat in the Security Council for the fifth time. The seat of Mexico in the Security Council will be a continuation of its active role in the United Nations.

What are the priorities of Mexico as a non-permanent member of the Security Council? Taking a glimpse at Mexico’s history in the UN Security Council, the nation has always appealed for the pacific resolution of controversies, adhering to international law and security. Back in 2003, while being part of the Security Council, Mexico voted against the invasion of Iraq, and it is under these pacific guidelines that the Mexican nation will make its decisions in the Council.  The protection of human rights and international law, gender equality and the agenda post Covid-19, will be the main priorities on Mexico’s agenda.

Mexico’s time in the Security Council will be dominated by three concrete goals the Mexican government has been working towards. One of Mexico’s main goals includes the approval of a resolution proposed by the Mexican government in the UN’s General Assembly to promote timely, transparent, equitable and efficient access to medicines and vaccines in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Another goal Mexico is fighting for is the revision of flexible mechanisms within the UN, especially the paralysis within the Security Council as exemplified by recent conflicts in Syria and Palestine. Together with France, Mexico is working on an initiative to restrict the ability to use veto powers in situations where crimes against humanity are being committed. Today, the initiative has the support of 106 UN Member States. During its term as a non-permanent member, Mexico will seek the support of the rest of the Members of the UN for this initiative as a mechanism of political pressure on the permanent members of the Security Council. Mexico will also push for the adherence of the Security Council’s actions to Article 25 of the United Nations Chapter on Transparency and Accountability, which calls on the Security Council to act on behalf of all the UN Member States.

Mexico has responsibility not only towards the international community, but also towards its own citizens and the citizens of Latin America. It is now an opportunity for the Mexican Government to exchange lessons learned and to regain credibility domestically and internationally. The confidence that the Latin American region has given to the Mexican nation should not be taken for granted. Mexico’s membership in the Security Council, ECOSOC and in the presidency of the Community of Latin American and the Caribbean States (CELAC) [3] is an important opportunity for the Mexican nation to address the structural and transnational challenges that characterize its neighboring countries. The economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the LAC region is something Mexico will have to raise awareness about within the Security Council. Covid-19 has led to a decline in GDP in the region and the increase in poverty. This could lead to a prospective humanitarian crisis, increase in society discontent and political turbulence.

Feminist Foreign Policy

In 2019 Mexico announced that it is pursuing a Feminist Foreign Policy (FFP). Together with France, Sweden, Canada and Norway, Mexico is the fifth country in the world in adopting this approach.  By embracing a FFP, Mexico will lead a foreign policy based on human rights with a crosscutting gender perspective, which will include but is not limited to; parity within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs that is free of violence and safe for everyone, as well visible equality and a feminist and intersectional within the Ministry.  Mexico’s membership in the Security Council is a key moment to encourage structural change in the LAC region on gender equality, since the structural, economic and social diversity in the region still represents an obstacle for the protection of every women and girls.  Moreover, despite the increase of the design and coordination of gender equality policies in the LAC region, there are still high rates of violence against women and gender-based discrimination, resulting in barriers to women’s full participation in the economy, limited degree of women’s autonomy or capacity to make decisions about their lives, unequal distribution of the benefits of growth in the labor market and limited access of women to justice.

The sanitary, social and economic emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic will be the major challenge for Mexico in the accomplishment of its goals within its biennium in the Security Council. Mexico will not face an easy international scenario: The upcoming years will be characterized by a multilateralism crisis where countries are likely to pursue their own interests rather than the interests of the international community. This could result in the closure of frontiers, commercial protectionist measures and the international competition for vaccines and medication. Therefore, the capacity of Mexico to govern within the Security Council will depend on its capacity of dealing with four main aspects.

One of these aspects is the relationship between Mexico and the other countries in the LAC region. Despite the fact that Mexico’s candidature to the Security Council was support by the GULAC group, there are persistent differences in the region. One example is the varying positions in the Venezuelan crisis. Thus, the Mexican government will need to find the way to work around the extreme political fragmentation in Latin American.

A second important aspect is the bilateral relation with the United States. History has demonstrated that Mexico’s adherence to its foreign policy principles in its mandate in the Security Council has fragmented its relationship with United States, as was the case when Mexico opposed to Iraq’s invasion. Mexico has alos refrained from standing for election to the Security Council during the time the NAFTA agreement was being negotiated, because of concerns that the latter would be affected by Mexico’s participation in the Security Council. With Biden being elected as president it is expected that the bilateral relationship will have greater convergence, notwithstanding, the US’ government position on issues such as human rights and work conditions could create disagreements between both nations.

Thirdly, Andrés Manuel López Obrador time as president has been characterized by a non-intervention position in international conflicts. Being part of the Security Council, Mexico will have to assume public positioning, responsibilities and actions in security issues.

Finally, the participation of Mexico in the Security Council may not be well received by its citizens in the following two years. Mexico’s former foreign advisors have stated that during previous participation of Mexico in the Security Council costs have been greater than benefits. Moreover, there is no evidence that this participation has helped to achieve foreign policy goals or strengthen national interests. Thus, participation in the Security Council could lead to the increase of the current social discontent in Mexico.

Mexican diplomacy has the prospect of acquiring greater importance, especially if it generates sufficient counterweight to the liberal democracies of Europe. Within the following two years Mexico will have to make the most out of its participation in the Security Council to strengthen its diplomatic capacities, its historical multilateral convictions and push for a United Nations that protects and represents every country based on transparency and accountability.

[1] Mexican’s President Speech on the non-permanent membership of Mexico in the United Nation’s Security Council

[2] Article 89 (X) of the Mexican Constitution

[3] CELAC for its acronym in Spanish

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