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Canada highlights Syrian refugees in bid for UN Council seat

[MONTREAL] Canada's UN ambassador said Sunday that the country's experience welcoming Syrian refugees helps qualify it for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, part of its push for a more active role on the world stage.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in mid-March that Canada would seek a rotating seat on the council during the 2021-2022 term.

"Our experience with Syrian refugees, our experience living together in diversity with lasting peace and prosperity is an example for the world," the country's UN ambassador Marc-Andre Blanchard told public broadcaster CBC on Sunday.

Canada has welcomed more than 26,000 Syrian refugees following a campaign pledge by Mr Trudeau, and has plans to take in up to 31,000 more by the end of the year.

The Security Council has a total of 15 members, five of them permanent - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - and another 10 that serve rotating two-year terms.

"In recent months, Canada's leadership has stood out with agreements on climate change, Syrian refugee issues, drugs recently and indigenous people last week," Mr Blanchard said in French.

"These are all examples of Canada's multilateral re-engagement." Canada is also asserting its peacekeeping experience in its push for a Security Council seat.

Ottawa aims to provide "expertise for rapid strategic deployment in conflict zones" and even command forces training, Mr Blanchard said.

The country currently has 84 police, nine military experts and 20 soldiers deployed on peacekeeping missions, but those numbers could grow as Ottawa plans to take over command of the UN stabilization mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and replace Brazilian forces before the end of the year.

A UN member since 1945, Canada has already served on the council several times.

But it suffered a blow when it was passed over by the UN General Assembly during a 2010 bid to join the council.

The assembly chose Portugal and Germany instead - both from the same Western region to which Canada belongs.

Candidates for Security Council seats typically undertake vigorous lobbying campaigns courting the UN's 193 members.