Egils Levits
Valsts prezidenta Egila Levita uzruna diskusijā par Latvijas interesēm un iespējām ANO saistībā ar organizācijas 75. gadskārtu

Dear audience!

The United Nations (UN) was founded as the world’s main organisation 75 years ago. The world was quite different then. The organisation was founded by 51 countries, but we were not among them, because, as we would only later realise, we had been erased from the world map for the time being. Thus, one of our first goals immediately after the international recognition of the Latvian government on 21 August 1991 was to join the United Nations. Only a few weeks later we had already become a full-fledged member of the UN. This was a confirmation of Latvia’s statehood and its return to the international community.

In the nearly 30 years since then we have been a very active member of the United Nations, having taken part in various forums and the drafting of UN policies. There are slightly more than 190 members in the UN and we are one of them – not the biggest, nor the smallest one either. It is essential to be able to correctly and effectively represent your interests in this forum, whilst also representing the European and global interests as well, and we have to a great extent succeeded in this. Therefore, Latvia is now ready to run for the UN Security Council, which is a UN body of the highest importance and prestige. We are following in the footsteps of our neighbours Estonia and Lithuania, and we can learn from their experience, and, of course, that of other countries.

At the moment, our main objective is to be elected to the Security Council, but at the same time we also have to think about what we want to achieve after being elected. Both of these tasks need to be dealt with simultaneously, because we cannot just run for the Security Council, we also have to be clear on what it is exactly that we want. In order to be elected to the Security Council, we need to gain the support of 2/3 of the other member states, meaning we need to obtain 129 of the total 193 votes. Of course, we are known to our partners and friends in Europe, North America and elsewhere, yet, I believe that for the majority of the world – Africa, South America, Oceania, Asia etc. – the state of Latvia and Latvia’s name is not very familiar. If you were to walk down the street, for example, in New Delhi and ask people what is Latvia and where is it located, I am certain that most would not have an answer. And this actually goes both ways. The youth representative just reported about a survey asking youths what they know about the United Nations, and just like in our hypothetical New Delhi example, most respondents did not know anything.

As I mentioned, we need to obtain 129 of the total 193 voted for Latvia to be represented on the UN Security Council as of 2026 (the election will be held in 2025). This means that a great deal of work needs to done for Latvia to become recognisable, and not only to have the name of Latvia recognised, but also what Latvia wants, what its contribution will be, why it would be of interest to these 129 countries. Why should they vote for us? This is a crucial question and the biggest challenge. I would even say that on a global scale this is our most important challenge, but I believe Latvia is ready to take it on, to set this target and achieve it. Therefore, I would like to open the discussion today about our road to the UN Security Council.

During my last meeting with the president of Estonia (Estonia is currently a member of the Security Council) we spoke at length about how Estonia made its way to the Security Council (the campaign started 5-6 years before the election, gradually intensifying), what Estonia is doing on the Security Council and how it is furthering its issues, European issues and global issues. The UN is a global organisation and as a member of the global community we have to be ready to contribute to the resolution of global problems.

As I open the discussion today, I already know that it will be productive and interesting, and we will all leave with many new conclusions and ideas on what we all need to do together. Thank you!

27.07.2020. Valsts prezidents Egils Levits piedalās diskusijā par Latvijas interesēm un iespējām ANO saistībā ar organizācijas 75. gadskārtu