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Thailand deserves a turn at the UN Security Council
Publication Date : 11-09-2013
Whether they love or hate this current government, Thai people should support the Foreign Ministry in its campaign for a seat as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Of course, national interest in this case could not be quantified into cash terms or anything like that - but being a member of the council would help raise Thailand's international role in all global issues.
The government recently launched a campaign to be a non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2017-2018. Its theme was to be a bridge between developed and developing members for peace and security.
Thailand served a two-year team with the security body in 1985-1986 when the Cold War was nearing its end.
The idea to apply for membership this time surfaced in 2007 during the coup-appointed government under Prime Minister Surayud Chulanond; indeed an embryo of an idea existed with the Foreign Ministry long before. The Thai permanent representative at the UN in New York informed the Asean New York Committee of the goal in November 2007. It is the norm for Asean members to move collectively - so Asean is the first international entity Thailand needs to inform in order to avoid competition within the group.
Among Asean members, the Philippines was the first country to take up a non-permanent membership of the council in 1957 and Manila was in the position again in 1963, 1980 and 2004. Malaysia took it up for the first time in 1965 and again in 1989 and 1999. Indonesia was a Security Council member in 1973 and again in 1995 and 2007. Singapore and Vietnam held the role once each in 2001 and 2008 respectively. The remaining Asean members - Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar - as well as more than 60 other UN members, have never been elected as non-permanent members.
The Thai cabinet under Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva approved in July 2009 Thailand's candidacy as a Security Council member. The Foreign Ministry has continued trade-off support among UN members since then. It was the government under Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra that made this campaign known publicly at home. The PM adopted the issue as her agenda whenever she was on a mission abroad, although her term in office will end before the day Thailand has a representative in the council.
Considering the contributions Thailand has made over the past decades to the UN, including peacekeeping forces and development tasks, the country already has good recognition in the UN. A major UN regional body and many other branch offices are situated in Bangkok. Although its human rights and democracy records are not without blemish, Thailand once chaired the UN Human Rights Council.
However there's no free ticket for Thailand to get Security Council membership. The Foreign Ministry under this government and governments in the future have to work hard until 2016 to get at least a two-thirds vote from the UN General Assembly to be elected to the top global security body.