Peru will become a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the 2018-2020 period.
The Andean nation will join the Council’s other new members, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kuwait, and Poland, starting 1 January 2018.
Peru is no stranger to the UNSC, as it has served as a member on four occasions so far: 1955-1956, 1973-1974, 1985-1986, and 2006-2007. In other words, the country is part of one of the most important bodies of the United Nations almost once a decade, a significant accomplishment of the Peruvian diplomatic corps over the years.
The timing of Peru’s election could hardly be more relevant, as the global body is facing a number of security-related crises and issues which will require all 15 members to work in harmony to achieve long lasting solutions. At the global level, crises like the wars in Iraq and Syria and their repercussions, particularly the immense number of internally displaced people as well as refugees seeking a better life in Europe, means that the UNSC will have to work in coordination with regional governments, international agencies, and other UN bodies.
In addition, the UNSC may have to adapt to doing more, or the same, with less, as US President Donald Trump’s 2018 Budget Plan proposes to reduce the funds Washington pays to the UN.
The US is the UN’s top contributor, providing 22% of the core budget and 28.5% of the peacekeeping budget, hence the diminution of financial support of the organization could make its current and future operations that much harder. In fact, the US government has already commenced a review to decide whether or not to continue funding each of the UN’s 16 current peacekeeping missions. Should cuts take place, it will be up to the UN Secretary General, the UNSC, and the General Assembly to address this troubling scenario in order to continue the good work the UN carries out around the world.
It is important to note that at the hemispheric level, the UN will have two new peace missions, the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), which will replace the current MINUSTAH mission in Haiti beginning this October, as well as a political mission that will oversee the peace and reintegration process in Colombia now that the conflict with the FARC insurgents has ended.
Presently, Peru has deployed military personnel to eight peacekeeping missions.
Most notably, the Andean nations’ military just withdrew the last of its troops that were part of the mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH. Currently, the country’s largest contribution is a company of engineers in the UN mission in the Central African Republic, MINUSCA, which constructs and maintains roads and airfields.
Even at the individual level, it is worth noting that Peruvians have made valuable contributions to the UN’s bureaucracy.
The most well know example is prominent Peruvian Javier Perez de Cuellar who served as the UN Secretary General (1982-1991). During his tenure, Perez de Cuellar was very involved in the Contadora Peace Process in Central America, among other initiatives. As for other notable Peruvians in the UN Tarcila Rivera an indigenous leader, was elected as a representative to the UN’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2016. Another noteworthy individual is Gladys Acosta Vargas, who has collaborated with the UN Research Institute for Social Development and is currently a member of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (2015-2018).
As for participation in other UN agencies, Peru is one of the 54 current members of the UNECOSOC (UN Economic and Social Council), which focuses on issues such as health, poverty, food security, and humanitarian aid to refugees. Additionally, in 2015, the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA), a joint effort by the two nations to bring together state and non-state actors to work in cooperation against climate change, launched a website in anticipation of the then-upcoming 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21).
This initiative probably played an influential role in the transcendental 2015 COP climate change conference in Paris.
Peru’s membership in the UNSC during the 2018-2020 period means that Lima will be a kite in a metaphorical storm, as the UN faces a number of troubling challenges, particularly the anticipated drastic budget constraint proposed by the US. In spite of the UN’s uncertain future, this new term at the UNSC nomination should make Peruvians proud and will offer the Andean country an ideal stage to demonstrate its commitment to global progress and how Peru can be a positive actor at the global level.
Also read Alejandro Sanchez, “Pax Inca: Why is Peru Not a Regional Powerhouse in Latin America?” Centro Argentino de Estudios Internacionales. 2013. (PDF Available here)
Alejandro Sanchez Nieto is a researcher who focuses on geopolitical, military, and cyber security issues in the Western Hemisphere. Follow him on Twitter: @W_Alex_Sanchez.
Brittney J. Figueroa is a recent graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelors degree in Global Studies, and a Minor in Latin American Iberian Studies.
The views presented in this essay are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of any institutions with which the authors are associated.