RIGA - Latvia's participation in the UN Security Council would give an opportunity to strengthen the voice of Europe, including the Baltic states, in international politics, Ambassador Andrejs Pildegovics, Special Envoy of the Latvian Secretariat of the UN Security Council, told LETA.
The diplomat reminded that in 2011 the government decided on Latvia's candidacy for the UN Security Council elections in 2025. On November 9 this year, the election campaign was officially launched in New York, US, but in reality it has been going on for several years.
According to the ambassador, this is a fresh start to the campaign, which is expected to conclude in the June 2025 elections. Latvia will participate in the elections for the first time. Latvia's rival in the Eastern European group is Montenegro. The ambassador stressed that these elections would be held in a competitive environment.
"This is one of Latvia's foreign policy priorities for the coming years. The UN Security Council is one of the central stages of diplomacy, where relatively small countries can serve on the Council for two years. Latvia wants to be elected in legitimate, democratic elections. It will be secret, but it is an election, unlike the Council's five permanent members, who appointed themselves to this status after the end of World War II," the ambassador said.
He stressed that the current international developments only reinforce the importance of Latvia's membership. It is a platform where Latvia can defend the UN Charter and the territorial integrity of the UN Member States. The block of issues relating to Russia's aggression against Ukraine is important for Latvia. Although this issue is regularly on the agenda of the UN Security Council, Latvia intends to stand firm for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Also, according to the ambassador, the UN Security Council is one of the main institutions deciding on the sanction regimes. It is important for Latvia that UN Security Council sanctions, for example against North Korea, Iran or the Taliban regime, are as effective as possible.
Pildegovics explained that Latvia's priorities are also new generation threats, such as those related to cyber security, artificial intelligence capabilities and risks. New generation threats are also increasingly on the agenda of the UN Security Council. The globally adopted concept of "Women, Peace and Security" has also been a long-standing priority for Latvia. These are issues that include sexual violence in conflicts such as in Ukraine.
"I can compare election to the UN Security Council to the biggest diplomatic microphone. For a small country, it provides an opportunity to be on the world's radar. It is also an opportunity to be in the most direct contact with all 193 UN Member States. I have to say that Latvia has come a long way since its UN membership. UN membership was the first step in our return to the international scene," said the ambassador.
He pointed out that without UN membership Latvia would not have had the opportunity to join the European Union, NATO or other international organizations. According to the ambassador, the UN once helped Latvia to get rid of Soviet Russian troops. In the 1990s, the UN Development Agency helped modernize the country's economy.
"This is a moment when Latvia is, to a certain extent, involved in the modernization of the UN. Although we are moving towards the goal of being represented in the Council, this does not mean that we are satisfied with everything that is happening in the UN. Latvia belongs to the "reformers' club" - the UN Group of States for Accountability, Coherence and Transparency. We regularly come up with proposals to make the work of the UN Security Council more effective, more open, more capable, so that the Council does not depend only on the five permanent veto-wielding countries," said Pildegovics.
According to the ambassador, while everything is far from perfect and the UN can be criticized for many things, it is a unique platform where small countries can assert themselves, declare their interests and participate in the global debate on issues affecting peace and security.
Pildegovics explained that Latvia needs two-thirds of the votes to be elected to the UN Security Council, i.e. 129 votes out of 193. This is a question of the countries present at the elections and the countries with voting rights at the time of the elections. Sometimes, a country's voting rights may be suspended for various reasons, such as unpaid national contributions.
The ambassador considers that the preparations and preparations for the elections are progressing well and successfully. Latvia is doing so in a focused and planned manner. Latvia has shown through practical work that it is not only a consumer of common security. Latvia participates in the work of the UN.
He pointed out that Latvia has served on the UN Peacebuilding Commission, the Economic and Social Council. Latvian experts have served for three years on the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Over the past years, Latvian representatives have been elected to the UN Commission on International Law and the International Climate Council. Latvia is also represented on several UN bodies. Latvian peacekeepers - members of the armed forces - participate in the UN mission in Lebanon and the UN mission in Jerusalem. In the ambassador's view, Latvia's contribution to the UN is recognized, appreciated and visible.
Asked where Latvia could gain support and where it would still need to work before the elections, Pildegovics said that Latvia's history of cooperation with the African continent is relatively recent. Moreover, Latvia has only one representation on the African continent and it is located in Cairo, Egypt. However, over the past few years, there has been a positive trend - more and more Latvian experts, business people and researchers are turning their attention to the continent. Also, according to the ambassador, Latvia has no diplomatic missions in Latin America. Latvia is gradually trying to fill this niche.
Pildegovics stressed that Latvia is preparing not only for the campaign, which is an important stage, but also for its work in the UN Security Council. Latvia intends to build on the work of its Baltic colleagues and is studying the experience of Scandinavia and other like-minded countries. The Ambassador stressed that, if elected, Latvia also intends to take into account the interests of relatively small countries, as well as the interests of the countries that will have voted for Latvia.
Asked whether Latvia and Montenegro had similar starting positions, the Ambassador pointed out that Latvia had a longer history in the UN, having become a member on September 17, 1991, a few months before the collapse of the Soviet Union. According to Pildegovics, Latvia has accumulated experience in 33 years - Latvia has presided over several international agreements, such as the Arms Trade Treaty. Latvia also has experience of the presidencies of the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe.
"We treat our competitor, Montenegro, with great respect. We have very good bilateral relations. Montenegro has a number of important priorities. Montenegro was negotiating its accession to the EU. It is also dealing with regional issues in the Balkans. We are ready for the fight and we hope that the majority of UN Member States will appreciate Latvia's readiness and maturity," said the ambassador.