By Dr Shahid Qureshi -:
In June 2016 the UNSC (United Nations Security Council) elections for the five non-permanent members are going to be held at the 70 session of the UN General Assembly. One seat allocated for the Asia-Pacific group is contested between Kazakhstan and Thailand. In 2010 Kazakhstan expressed its interest to bid for non-permanent member seat at the UNSC which was one step forward to its six-year foreign policy agenda 2014-2020. The purpose of this bid is to go in the third circle of influence and widening its more active role at the international stage playing role on the issues of peace keeping, energy, environment, economy, food, poverty, terrorism and nuclear non-proliferation.
The geo-political potion of Kazakhstan in the region has given her an edge to play roles in the regional and international stage. The founding father of the country HE Nursultan Nazarbayev had a rich experience of working in a controlled environment of soviet time cold war with the West. He has now over 25 years’ experience in dealing with the world especially Western world. He has recently signed multi-billion-dollar business deals with United Kingdom a permanent member at the United Nations Security Council and also active member of the Commonwealth Countries. Kazakhstan was successfully able to cash in its friendly relations with United Kingdom at international stage. President of Kazakhstan was instrumental in the resolving the ongoing issue of Ukraine with USA, Russia, NATO and Europe. More recently Kazakhstan was playing role in back door diplomacy in reducing tensions between Turkey and Russia on the issue of Syria and criminal activities of Daesh/ISIL.
I spoke to H.E. Erzhan Kazykhanov, Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Kingdom about the Russia-Turkey issue on 2nd December 2015 and suggested that Kazakhstan being friend of both Russia and Turkey should play a role to reduce the tensions. He agreed with the suggestion and told me that President Nursultan Nazarbayev is already working on this and is in contact with both President Putin of Russia and President Erdogan of Turkey.
Acknowledging the efforts for world peace and religious harmony, leaders of the world traditional religion paid tribute to Kazakhstan and its president. The world leaders of traditional religions issued a declaration at the end of the International Congress in Astana capital of The Republic of Kazakhstan in June 2015:
“We, the participants of the V Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, united by common aspiration to peace, accord and cooperation to ensure a better future of humankind, expressing gratitude to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan His Excellency Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev for his noble initiative to host the Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, as well as to the people and government of Kazakhstan for their generosity and hospitality, acknowledging the important role of the Congress and the contribution of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the promotion of inter-religious and inter-civilizational dialogue to build a peaceful, just and safe world in the XXI century, welcoming global and regional initiatives seeking to promote inter-religious and intercultural harmony, strengthening dialogue of religious leaders and politicians, noting the importance of the contribution made by world and traditional religions to the development of the human civilization through the assertion of spiritual ideals and values….,
Kazakhstan: United in Peace for World, published June 13, 2015
Kazakhstan’s policy of moving from inner circle to outward is working very well which mean ‘its first priorities are its neighbours’. It has a long border with both Russia and China both permanent members of UNSC. It has historical and cultural links with central Asian states and near neighbours Pakistan and Afghanistan. HE Nursultan Nazarbayev is very keen on the identity of the country as he mentioned during the international conference on Religions in June 2015 in Astana. He said we save our identity during Soviet period.
“We Saved Our Identity in Soviet Period”: Nursultan Nazarbayev, Published June 24, 2015
It seems Kazakhstan’s bid for a seat in the UN Security Council for 2017-2018 is genuine and weighty as well as ambitious and promising. As mentioned earlier the country’s case is supported by its many peace initiatives, including efforts to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. The Central Asian country’s European partners name it the anchor of security and stability in the region, as well as a reliable partner in the fight against international terrorism. Kazakhstan has a substantial experience in addressing complex international issues. The leadership’s policy towards social reconciliation and interfaith harmony receives high praise. Crucially, Kazakhstan facilitated development of strong Diasporas – for example, the ethnic Germans who left Kazakhstan for their historic homeland in the 1990s form “living outposts” between the two countries.
Kazakhstan’s contribution to regional and international stability and security includes nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as active track record in the field of multilateral diplomacy. These strengthen the case for its election to the non-permanent members of the UN Security Council. The latter’s example is Kazakhstan’s initiative in the creation of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).
The country has greatly contributed to the establishment of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, addressing issues of regional security. Although not its closest neighbour, the country provided humanitarian and technical assistance since 2010, and actively implements educational programs through which thousands of Afghan young men that grew up in conditions of war, learn peaceful profession in Kazakhstan universities.
The UN Security Council consists of 15 states, five of which are permanent members – Russia, the US, China, Britain and France, with the right to “veto”. The ten non-permanent members are elected by voting, five each year. They take part in voting on decisions, however, unlike the permanent members, do not have the right to “veto” and cannot block the decisions. The Council members take turn for Presidency each month, their turn determined by the alphabetic order.
To become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, candidate countries need to gain two-thirds of UN member states votes. Positions are divided by regional groups: Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Western European and other states. Of the current 193 Member States of the United Nations more than a third has never been members of the Security Council.
If one recalls Kazakhstan’s bid to chair the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Kazakhstan diplomats immediately applied OSCE efforts to resolve the ‘frozen’ conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and in the Balkans. The critics say that their success was limited to the resumption of negotiations between the conflicting parties.
It is likely that Kazakhstan may use its presidency to implement these peace initiatives, and to attempt to put conflicting parties to the negotiating table. After all, a bad peace is better than a good war. Kazakhstan has the experience in strengthening regional security and stability not only as OSCE chair, but also as chair of Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The membership in the UN Security Council of course would be one of the most significant achievements for Kazakhstan diplomacy. However, it is worth recollecting the 38-th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Astana in 2011, when Kazakhstan began its presidency of OIC. The OIC was renamed the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, it established the Permanent Commission on Human Rights, and adopted an Action Plan for the OIC cooperation with Central Asia. Nursultan Nazarbayev’s keynote speech to the Muslim Ummah laid the foundation for the OIC Astana Declaration.
One ought to mention also Kazakhstan contribution in the fight against illicit drug production and trafficking from Afghanistan, the rehabilitation of the regions of the former Semipalatinsk nuclear test site and the Aral Sea. The country consistently managed to successfully implement its plans, reflected in the concept and program of its chairmanship in the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC in 2011-2012. It showed diplomatic flexibility, demonstrated the ability to assess the situation and made effort to resolve the problems of the Muslim countries.
Within the context of the complex developments in the Islamic world, the chaired Executive Committee of the OIC held extraordinary meetings to consider the resolution of the issues in Syria and Libya. Much attention was paid to the fight against Islamophobia and preventing inter-religious conflicts. Moreover, under the auspices of Kazakhstan’s chairmanship a large-scale campaign to overcome the humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia collected over $ 500mln.
Taking into account the markedly growing role of Kazakhstan in Central Asia, the country demonstrated all the qualities of a modern leader among the many countries of the OIC. Astana initiated a number of steps to reform OIC, and deepen its cooperation with the EU, OSCE, SCO, CICA and Congress of World and Traditional Religions. Noting the high content and professionalism of Kazakhstan’s chairmanship of the OIC, the Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu called this period one of the most brilliant chapters in the history of the Organization.
Kazakhstan’s chairmanship of the second largest after the United Nations international organization representing vital interests of Muslim countries in the international arena has been made possible thanks to the professionalism of the Kazakhstan diplomatic corps. The country’s specialists have worked successfully in the 57 states organization, despite the fact that the Islamic Ummah is far from uniform, with significant variation in member-countries’ economic development and standard of living.
IOC members are scattered from Siberia to the Arabian Sea and vary from their climate and environmental conditions, to different cultivation methods, which entailed not only sharply differing temperaments and cultural traditions, but also very diverse taste preferences. However, Kazakhstan stands out even from its nearest neighbours for its passion for the unknown and thirst for knowledge. The nomads’ natural qualities of lively mind and curiosity, repeatedly described by European travellers in the past centuries, still characterize their modern settled descendants, who haven’t lost their ancestors spirit. Today, Kazakhstan students and professionals can be found on all continents. They reach out for distant lands not just for the best diplomas, but driven by their passion for the unknown, the opportunity to meet other cultures and people.
Keeping in view the above it seems that Kazakhstan with its energetic and dynamic professionals and diplomatic corps is ready to mingle in the international foreign policy corridors at the United Nations.
(Dr Shahid Qureshi is senior analyst with BBC and chief editor of The London Post. He writes on security, terrorism and foreign policy. He also appears as analyst on Al-Jazeera, Press TV, MBC, Kazak TV (Kazakhstan), LBC Radio London. He was also international election observer for Kazakhstan 2015 and Pakistan 2002. He has written a famous book “War on Terror and Siege of Pakistan” published in 2009. He is a PhD in Political Psychology and also studied Law at a British University)