Comparing Canada’s role on the United Nations Security Council and the Arctic Council: finding several roles

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Cabagyo, Jessiah
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The main objective of this thesis is to compare Canada’s role on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and on the Artic Council in order to critically examine the “middle power” theory – the idea that Canada, as a western ally, has influence in the world to play the role of the “helpful fixer”. The UNSC and Arctic Council are chosen as they include all of the great powers in both organizations, but Canada serves different roles on both. On the UNSC, Canada is a non-permanent (some prefer elected) member for a two-year term with a vote, but not a deciding one like the veto given to the five Permanent Members (P5) whereas Canada is a lead decision-maker as an Arctic state with a veto on the Arctic Council. Ultimately, this thesis seeks to answer the question does Canada’s role change when it is a member of an international organization in which it has the same decision-making powers as at least some of the P5 members? By comparing these two organizations, this thesis seeks to determine if Canada plays a placeholder, bridge-builder, or lead role thus providing evidence to the ongoing and contentious middle power debate. This thesis found that Canada does not always play the role of a middle power because it has different roles on the UNSC and the Arctic Council. Canada is best described as a middle power on the UNSC but a leader on the Arctic Council. Canada’s behaviour and role changes based on the organization’s mandate and the voting parity Canada has with great powers.
political studies