Madam Speaker, earlier this year we received news that Saudi Arabia had been voted as a member of the United Nations committee charged with promoting and furthering the rights of women. Certainly, I think anyone in the House would be hard-pressed to defend Saudi Arabia as a champion of women's rights. A lot of people across the political spectrum in the House raised their eyebrows, and rightly so, at that decision.
The 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly occurred in New York about two weeks ago. In his speech the new Secretary General spoke about the need for reforming the United Nations.
In this regard, there are related issues that we have been charged with here in the House in Commons, and certainly near and dear to my heart is the global response to the Yazidi genocide. It took many months for the House, government, and department of immigration to respond to the fact that Canada had not brought in any Yazidi genocide survivors. Even to this day, the number has been really low.
One of the questions related to UN reform was how the UNHCR, for example, works to ensure that victims of genocide who might be internally displaced make it onto their list, and that people in these cohorts are not discriminated against in their camps but their passage expedited. This is not a partisan discussion, but a reflection of the fact that the world has changed since the original refugee conventions were signed after World War II. When there are big big bureaucracies like the UN, they are slow to change. It is up to member states such as Canada to push to ensure that positive changes happen.
We have gone through the UNGA and heard the charge by the Secretary General to look at reform, and yet have seen the example of states such as Saudi Arabia becoming members of the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN. All of this really speaks to the soul of the UN and how we as a member state are pushing and advocating for change.
The government has signalled how keen it is to get a seat on the UN Security Council, which is one of the only bodies that can compel member states to do something. However, the government cannot just campaign to get on the Security Council, but should have an agenda, and I would like to see reform as part of that agenda.
If Canada is successful in its bid to get a seat on the Security Council, will the Liberal government stand up and oppose countries such as Saudi Arabia sitting on the women's rights commission, or North Korea sitting on the human rights commission? If the government were given this mandate, I want to get a sense of what it would actually do with it.