AFRICA IN CLARION CALL FOR UN REFORMS

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By Innocent Gore

African leaders have once again reiterated calls for the reform of the United Nations Security Council, saying the continent must be accorded the same status and weight enjoyed by other major regional bodies.

They also called for a multilateral approach to trade and said Africa was working towards economic development to overcome underdevelopment and poverty on the continent.  

The African Union was also making concerted efforts to end wars and conflicts in various countries on the continent, the leaders said in separate addresses to the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week.

Africa has since 2000 been calling for the reform of the UN Security Council so that it represents the new geo-political order.

The UNSC is dominated by five permanent members – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States of America.  Africa has remained largely under-represented despite its growing influence in global affairs. 

Africa's common position on the UN Security Council reforms is clearly contained in the Ezulwini Consensus made in Swaziland in 2005 and adopted the same year at Sirte, Libya, and at an Extraordinary Session of the Executive Council of the AU in Ethiopia.

The consensus calls for the need to expand the size of the Security Council from 15 to 26 members, with fair representation of Africa.

According to the Ezulwini Consensus, Africa's goal is to be fully represented in all the decision-making organs of the UN, particularly in the Security Council, which is the principal decision-making organ of the UN in matters relating to international peace and security. 

Full representation of Africa in the Security Council means not less than two permanent seats with all the prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership including the right of veto, and five non-permanent seats.

Even though Africa is opposed in principle to the veto provision, the continent is of the view that so long as it exists and as a matter of common justice, veto power should be made available to all permanent members of the council.

African Union chairman and Rwandan President Paul Kagame said the dividend of a more focused and functional Africa benefits everyone, emphasizing that against the backdrop of stronger partnerships, the AU’s representation at the UN must be accorded the same status and weight enjoyed by other major regional bodies.  

“Making the United Nations relevant to all people requires a commitment to achieving real multilateralism where it has too often been lacking.  Indeed, the current two-track system of global governance — in which a few define the norms by which others will be judged — is unsustainable,” he said.  

“Standards that do not apply to everyone, equally, are not universal,” he warned, adding:  “Addressing this imbalance in the very foundation of our system is what will give shape to a revival of multilateral cooperation.”

SADC chairperson and Namibian President Hage Geingob said it was pertinent to demonstrate political will of the entire UN membership to redress the historical injustice imposed on Africa through a comprehensive reform of the Security Council.

“”In this regard, it is pertinent to demonstrate the political will of the UN membership with regards to redressing Africa's exclusion from the Security Council. The world has moved on, the old and unjust order cannot persist. 

“Africa and its 1.2 billion inhabitants can no longer be excluded from assuming its place on this primary decision-making body. Africa’s right to have an equal say in decision-making on issues that affect the African region and the world at large should be respected,” he said. 

Geingob said for Africa and the rest of the developing world, peace was the main foundation and guarantor for sustainable economic growth and development.

He called for the implementation of all UN resolutions and decisions which would lead to a positive peaceful and permanent solution that meets the aspirations and will of the people of Western Sahara.  

He said the world must not rest until the people of Palestine are allowed to pursue their inalienable right to self-determination, justice, freedom and independence through political, diplomatic, peaceful and non-violent means.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the UN and its organs required to be democratised. 

In his maiden address to the UNGA, he said: “We join the call for Africa to be represented in the permanent category and to have increased representation in the non-permanent category.

“This position is indeed justified, in view of the need to correct the historical injustice which has left the African continent on the periphery of all major global decision-making processes.”

Mnangagwa also called for the review and reform of the Bretton Woods institutions and other international

financial institutions.

He said in the spirit of leaving no one behind, efforts to promote global partnership for peace and development would never be complete unless the plight of people living under occupation was addressed. 

“It is most saddening that some of us continue to turn a blind eye to the suffering of the people of Palestine. It is high time the Security Council fulfilled its charter obligations and duties by implementing all its resolutions.

“On the African continent, it is equally disheartening that the people of Western Sahara are yet to exercise their inalienable right to self determination. We call on the Security Council to insist on the holding of an independent referendum for the Sahrawi people without delay, in compliance to the relevant decisions of the African Union and the resolutions of the United Nations,” he said.

Malawi President Peter Mutharika also said his country supports United Nations reform.   

“The United Nations cannot preach democracy while it itself is unrepresentative,” Mutharika said, calling for the organisation to be relevant to all people.

Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu expressed deep concern at the “little or no progress” made to reform the UN Security Council.

“It will be recalled that in 2000, during the Millennium Summit, world leaders called for early conclusion to the negotiations on Security Council reform,” he said. 

“In 2005 during the World Summit, leaders expressed concern at the slow pace of progress and urged negotiations on Security Council reform to be expedited. Thirteen years later, we are still no closer to agreement on such a fundamental issue that seeks to make the United Nations truly representative, democratic and effective.

He said he hoped that the UN General Assembly president will report substantive progress “by the time we mark the 40th anniversary milestone”.

“I wish, in this regard, to reiterate that Africa remains steadfast and united in its call for two permanent members in the Security Council with all the privileges and obligations that come with that status, and five non-permanent seats.

“Not only is this a matter of common decency and correction of a historical injustice, but it is also a matter of restoring the dignity of Africa, which currently remains the only continent that does not have representation in the permanent category of the Security Council,” said President Lungu, who is also the chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation.

 

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