Known primarily for his work against HIV/AIDs, musician and activist Bono recently took up a seemingly obscure cause — a seat for Ireland on the United Nations Security Council.
The U2 frontman is playing shows and attending UN meetings to rally the vote for Ireland, according to the Independent.
But Bono isn’t just throwing his celebrity power around to rep his home country. The UNSC is a hugely influential body, acting as the UN’s chief proponent of global security and peace.
And Ireland stands to make a big impact if it gets a position, an opportunity that comes around once every two decades, the Independent reports.
The island country is competing against Norway and Canada for temporary spots available on the UNSC and the vote is set to take place in 2020.
The UNSC is comprised of five permanent member states, and 10 rotating members that serve two year terms. The permanent members include France, the US, the UK, Russia, and China, and the current rotating members are Bolivia, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Netherlands, Peru, and Sweden. The Security Council has the power to make binding decisions to demand action by member states, and is the authority that authorizes humanitarian intervention. So a seat at the table is a big deal.
A spot on the UNSC would help Ireland maintain its position at the front of global development and diplomacy. Ireland has been making great strides in showing leadership on development issues in recent years.
In 2015, Ireland gained favor with the UN after successfully co-chairing complex negotiations on new sustainable development goals. Further, in Ireland’s Global Footprint to 2025 they outlined a high-level commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on development assistance by 2025.
In the 1970’s, the UN set the goal of 0.7% of national income as a target for spending on international development aid. Until 2013, only five countries had reached this target when the UK became the first G7 country to meet the target in 2013. Now Ireland could be the next country to meet this goal. This target is important because it signifies a commitment to the international system, and shows which countries are taking the lead in development and aid.
However, beyond just a high-level aspirational commitment, the country must actually follow through with real funding increases in upcoming budgets to set Ireland apart.
Following through on this commitment with increased funding in the next budget cycle will add credibility to their claim for a spot on the UNSC because it shows that Ireland is dedicated to this commitment, and means to make good on their promise to the international community. Their competitor Norway already hit the 0.7% target in 1976, and even reached 1% in 2009 making it one of the most generous nation in the world! Canada, however was sitting at a small level of 0.26% in 2017.
The Irish budget is set in October, and the government has a long ways to go before it hits the UN target. In 2017, Ireland was only spending 0.297% of national income on development. If the government does make an increase in spending, this will be a pivotal moment in assessing whether Ireland is truly ready to follow through with its promise.
Ireland has in recent years already begun to scale up its support for global development efforts. Earlier this year, Ireland announced €25 million Euros to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), doubling their previous commitment. And in 2015 on the Global Citizen Earth Day stage, Ireland strengthened their commitment by announcing that 50% of their development funding would go to the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) — a commitment it is on track to reach.
Additionally, Ireland’s recent referendum around abortion rights for women and girls provides the country with an opportunity to pursue these issues globally as part of its foreign policy. The 8th amendment of the Irish constitution previously outlawed abortion. The victory of the referendum means Ireland will now take steps to legalise abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
This important decision is likely to have far-reaching influence around the world in the efforts for gender equality and women’s rights. It also follows the Junior Minister for International Development, Ciarán Cannon, being named as a Political Champion for Education in Emergencies in April, 2018. This title was developed by Malala Yousafzai, whose Malala Fund advocates for every girl’s right to free, safe, and quality education. All of these developments contribute to Ireland’s credibility for its campaign for a temporary spot on the UNSC.
A spot on the UNSC would allow Ireland to oversee and influence important peace and security decisions, and following through on its 0.7% commitment with real increases in funding would send a strong message to all of the countries who have not yet reached that target.