Luxembourg, a credible candidate for the Human Rights Council?

By Camille Frati Switch to French for original article

The Grand Duchy continues its assiduous campaign to obtain a seat in the controversial UN body before the vote scheduled for autumn 2021. However, the game is far from won. A review of the strengths and weaknesses of aspiring Luxembourg.

On 18 October 2012, Luxembourg’s diplomacy scored a memorable coup d’éclat by coming close to winning a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in the first round with 128 votes – when it took 129 to win the seat. The second round against Finland was a mere formality. As a founding member of the UN, served by the long campaign of the tireless Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg is entering the spotlight and becoming more than the donor of ‘Non-violence’, the famous ‘Knotted Gun’ by Fredrik Reuterswärd, which is displayed in front of the UN headquarters in New York.

As a diplomatic player in the eyes of the world, Luxembourg was able to reassure and convince during its two years in the big league. “Twenty years ago, Luxembourg’s decision to present its candidacy to the United Nations Security Council was not immediately met with unanimous approval”, recalls Jean Asselborn in a written reply to the Lëtzebuerger Journal. “Some felt that Luxembourg had nothing to gain from a mandate on the Security Council and that this increased exposure on the international stage could even harm our reputation and interests. In fact, the exact opposite has happened.”

In the end, Luxembourg passed this trial by fire with flying colours. “Luxembourg’s flawless performance during its first mandate on the Security Council in 2013–2014 has cemented our reputation for seriousness and competence within the United Nations”, Asselborn continued. “Previously, we had it at European level, where we chaired the Council of the European Union 12 times. In the Security Council, we have shown that we can remain true to our principles and values, while at the same time seeking to facilitate consensus between powers with which we were less used to negotiating.”
In 2014, Luxembourg has thus negotiated with Australia and Jordan. It was to be the first resolution aimed at guaranteeing the access of humanitarian aid to Syria from neighbouring countries. Furthermore, Luxembourg’s permanent representative to the UN, Sylvie Lucas, chaired the working group ‘Children and Armed Conflict” for two years.

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Luxembourg, a credible candidate for the Human Rights Council?


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