In June 2010, Kazakhstan first declared its intention to seek a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for 2017-18. In the fall of 2013, it formally launched its bid. It will be voted upon at the November 2016 United Nations General Assembly elections.
According to Article 23 of the United Nations Charter, the primary responsibility of the Security Council is maintaining international peace and security. Since gaining independence in 1991, Kazakhstan has achieved notable progress on the political, economic and social fronts and has made substantial contributions to global and regional security.
Kazakhstan is not looking to enhance its international prestige, but to become more involved in Central Asian and global security issues. The country also would bring useful expertise to the Security Council as the four priority pillars of its bid are nuclear, energy, food, and water security.
Kazakhstan voluntarily renounced its huge nuclear arsenal inherited from the Soviet Union. The country closed the world’s second-largest nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk. In 1994, a joint US–Kazakhstan operation called Project Sapphire removed nearly 600 kilogrammes of highly enriched weapons-grade uranium from the Ulba Metallurgy Plant. The two countries later removed 2,900 kilogrammes of enriched nuclear fuel from the Mangyshlak Atomic Energy facility and have converted large amounts of weapons grade nuclear fuel into material that can be used only for peaceful purposes.
In 2009, Kazakhstan, along with other countries in the region, created a Central Asian nuclear-weapons-free zone and has been working to see other like zones established around the world.
Kazakhstan has also been one of the most active nations in ensuring the security of nuclear materials, as evidenced in the prominent role President Nursultan Nazarbayev has played in the three nuclear security summits in Washington in 2010, in Seoul in 2012, and in The Hague on March 24-25.
Pertinent to the goals of the Security Council, Kazakhstan has experience in post-conflict rehabilitation. Being an active part of the so-called Istanbul Process, Kazakhstan held the Third Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan and allocated $50 million to educate young Afghans at the best universities in Kazakhstan.
Indeed, Afghanistan is one particular focus of Kazakhstan’s regional efforts, and it is the goal of stabilising that country that is one of the reasons for Kazakhstan’s pressing ahead with its proposal to set up a UN regional diplomacy hub in its southern megapolis of Almaty.
Kazakhstan wishes to strengthen its diplomatic capabilities in order to address and solve the most difficult issues through its non-permanent Security Council membership. Over the past 20 years, Kazakhstan has chaired a number of key international organisations, such as the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2010, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in 2011-2012, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in 2010-2011 and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) in 2012. In addition, the country initiated the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building in Asia (CICA) during the 47th session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1992. Working with partners, it has managed to create a fledgling security forum which now brings together 24 countries on the Eurasian continent. In May, during a summit in China that country will take over the CICA chairmanship from Turkey.
In 2013, Kazakhstan hosted two rounds of the P5+1 talks on Iran’s nuclear programme, which are believed to have paved the way for the Geneva talks on this matter later that year.
Kazakhstan’s proven mediation abilities would be a solid asset to the Security Council. Fully supporting the United Nations Charter, Kazakhstan is committed to enhancing cooperation with regional organisations in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America to maintain peace and prevent potential conflicts.
Kazakhstan’s peacekeeping battalion Kazbat participated in demining operations in Iraq and its members acted as military observers in a number of operations. Kazakhstan has contributed to and is capable of continuing to contribute to these operations. Astana also not only financially supports the efforts of the UN in carrying out peacekeeping missions, but also supplies military observers to serve in UN peacekeeping missions.
In regards to other human security issues, Kazakhstan, as one of the top global grain exporters, is ready to address food security challenges, including through the creation of Islamic Organisation for Food Security and planned establishment of the Kazakhstan Agency for International Development (KazAID).
Kazakhstan, as a landlocked country, attaches great importance to water security. The country implements extensive irrigation projects and is working to resolve one of the world’s biggest environmental challenges, the shrinking of the Aral Sea. Kazakhstan actively participates in resolving the water issues relating to its trans-boundary rivers with neighbouring countries. Kazakhstan has developed ambitious plans to become a green economy that revolves around increasing living standards and minimising human impact on the environment. EXPO 2017, which will be themed around new energy sources, will be held in Astana.
“Kazakhstan recognizes the key central role of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security, the promotion of sustainable development and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Erlan Idrissov said in September 2013 when formally outlining the bid. “We believe that the multifaceted and interconnected challenges and threats facing the world today can be best addressed through a reformed and strong United Nations.”
“As a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Kazakhstan will cooperate fully in contributing to maintaining international peace and security, as well as to the activities of the Security Council as a body that can effectively address the full range of challenges and threats facing our world,” Idrissov noted then.
Generally, Kazakhstan stands for very balanced, well-informed, collective UN-supported approaches to resolving challenging and difficult situations internationally. For example, in the current situation in Ukraine, Astana has argued repeatedly for upholding the principles of the international law and the stressed the importance of the observance of the UN Charter.
2017 will be a milestone for Kazakhstan because it will mark 25 years of the country’s membership in the United Nations. If elected a member of the UN Security Council for 2017-18, Kazakhstan will become its member for the first time, and this will confirm the balance and equitable geographical distribution in the Asian group.
So far, only Kazakhstan and Thailand are competing for the Asian group’s slot on the UN Security Council in three years. Three years is a long time in politics, but with the vote on the nominations set for the fall of 2016 the decision time is approaching fast and Kazakhstan seems to be doing its part to prepare for it in the best possible way.