With less than a month before Chile’s presidential elections (which former President Michelle Bachelet is widely expected to win), current President Sebastián Piñera has given his nation and the next government a farewell present. This pastOctober 17, Chile was selected to be one of the two representatives for Latin America and the Caribbean in the United Nations Security Council. Its term will run from from January 1, 2014 until December 31, 2015. This is the fifth time that Chile has been selected to the UNSC.
It is important to note that Chile has had a growing involvement in different aspects of the United Nations besides its significant presence in the UNSC.As of September 30, Chile has deployed 496 security personnel across the globe under the peacekeeping flag: 478 are troops, 13 are police personnel and 5 are military experts on missions (UNMEM). The majority of Chilean personnel are deployed to the UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), while smaller deployments have been sent to the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) and the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).
Additionally, Bachelet has been involved in the United Nations, where her work has been generally applauded. From 2010 until March 2013, Bachelet was the first Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director ofU.N. Women. Created in 2010,this agencyworks towards promoting “gender equality and the empowerment of women.” Her final achievement before leaving the UN was the adoption by more than 130 UN member states of a U.N. document tocombat violence against women. This agreement was achieved during the 57thsession of the Commission on the Status of Women which took place from March 4 to 15 (a PDF copy of the agreed conclusions can be foundhere).
Nevertheless, it is worth noting that Bachelet’s decision to resign from this high-level positionthis past Marchoverlaps with the Chilean presidential electoral cycle. A case could be made that Bachelet’s priority was in becoming her country’s president once again rather continuing in New York.
And do not forget that during his September speech to the General Assembly in New York,Piñera explained the reasonswhy his country should gain the coveted position. The outgoing head of state argued that Chile would work to modernizethe composition of the UNSCby expanding its permanent membership through accepting regional powers like Brazil, Germany, India and Japan. Meanwhile,Alfredo Moreno, the Chilean Minister of Foreign Affairs, has declared that the UNSC’s permanent members’ veto power has occasionally promoted a lack of action by the U.N. and it should be adapted to modern day geopolitics.(Good luck with that).
Leaving aside the (unlikely) modernization of the UNSC membership, the South American state joins the UNSC at a fraught time: the organization faces an ongoing operation to removechemical weapons in Syriaas well as a growing likelihood that the U.N. will begin a peacekeeping mission in theCentral African Republicin the coming months.
Back in August, in the middle of the electoral campaign, Bachelet declared her intentions for Chile’s foreign policy, should she be re-elected in November. The former head of state explained that she would focus onLatin American integrationas well as improving relations with regional neighbors likeArgentina and Brazil. To this list, she will now have to add Chile’s magnified position on the global stage.