By Ginger ThompsonNew York Times
October 9, 2001
Mexico won a seat on the United Nations Security Council today, strengthening President Vicente Fox's efforts to move his country away from its traditional isolation toward an active role in world affairs.
The victory marks the first time in two decades that Mexico will serve on the Council and comes after considerable effort by Mr. Fox. He spent much of the first nine months of his presidency traveling across Europe, Asia and Latin America seeking votes from world leaders.
"Mexico recognizes that in an increasingly globalized world, international matters can no longer be detached from our national interests," said Mexico's foreign minister, Jorge G. Casteñeda. "That commits us to make Mexico a major contributor to world debates, particularly in the face of circumstances that constitute threats to peace and international security."
Foreign policy experts said the two-year term on the Security Council would give Mexico - the world's 10th-largest nation with about 100 million people - a platform from which to press for new strategies to deal with immigration, drug trafficking, organized crime and trade disputes.
The victory also gives Mr. Fox an opportunity to improve his image at home, where political leaders have raised questions about his leadership abilities during world crises.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the United States, President Fox was criticized for not calling Mexicans to national demonstrations of solidarity and condolence, like those that were organized across Europe. Members of the president's own cabinet also made contradictory statements about how far Mexico would go to support the United States response to the attacks.
But Mr. Fox eventually came out with "unconditional support" for the United States and reiterated that support in a televised address on Sunday, after the United States mounted an attack on Afghanistan.
Debate in Mexico about Mr. Fox's campaign for a seat on the Security Council has been equally intense, with opponents worried that Mexico would be called to send help to police settlements of violent conflicts.
President Fox has said he would be willing to send Mexican peacekeepers for United Nations missions. But foreign policy experts said they expected Mexico's contributions to focus more on diplomacy.
"The Security Council's work has changed dramatically since the end of the cold war," said Jorge Montano, a former Mexican ambassador to the United Nations and to Washington. "Its work is more creative. It involves much more than peacekeeping missions. It involves preventive diplomacy. And that is where I think Mexico can play its most significant role."
In addition to approving a seat for Mexico, the United Nations also voted on Monday to give two-year seats on the Council to Syria, Bulgaria, Cameroon and Guinea.
More Information on Previous Security Council Elections
More Information on Security Council Membership
Table of Security Council Membership 1946 to Present
Tables of Ambassadors on the Security Council and Sanctions Committees
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