UNGA – Ezulwini Consensus must remain Africa’s rallying point
In the next few days, African leaders will join other leaders from the rest of the world as they troop to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
They will make speeches, some powerful and some not so powerful, and return home to face their challenges, and their people who since the end of colonialism and apartheid, still live in poverty.
The United Nations is still the same body formed more than 70 years ago and those countries that claimed victory of Nazi Germany, the so-called Allies, still dominate world affairs and control the economic levers of the world. In fact, one of “the allies” has gone on to become so powerful and dominant that everything it says goes.
Even its voice in the Bretton Woods institutions sounds like the voice of God, which must be obeyed and everything it demands of others is done to the letter.
This is why we ask the African leaders whether the voice of the African shall ever be heard in world affairs. Africa is the richest continent on earth in terms of resources, but has the poorest people. Is this not a disgrace?
We believe it is time African leaders speak with one voice on the exploitation of resources on the continent so that they benefit their people. The SADC region is leading a crusade on minerals beneficiation and industrialisation and we believe this is a noble idea which must be embraced across the continent.
But on the world stage, countries on the continent must speak with one voice on the democratisation of the UN system, especially the Security Council, so that Africa also has a voice. Surely, a continent which is home to 1,3 billion must be allowed to sit at the table where decisions affecting its citizens are taken. Africa must not continue to pick the crumbs that fall from the table of rich and industrialised nations.
The AU a few years ago adopted a resolution reaffirming the continent’s stance that it should get two permanent seats with veto powers and two non-permanent seats on an expanded United Nations Security Council. We reiterate that this call must now be transformed into action.
The Ezulwini Consensus must remain the rallying call for Africa to have a say in world affairs and be represented on the Security Council.
Africa's common position on the UN Security Council reforms is clearly contained in the Ezulwini Consensus made in Swaziland, now Eswatini, 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.
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, according to the Ezulwini Consensus, 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.
The Committee of 10, which is supposed to be spearheading this process must not sit on its laurels and this is the time to stand up for the continent. Surely, it has been 14 years since the Ezulwini Consensus was adopted and Africans are still waiting for their pound of flesh. But we cannot wait forever.
The Committee of 10 comprises heads of states of Sierra Leone and Senegal (representing West Africa), Equatorial Guinea and Congo Republic (Central Africa) Namibia and Zambia (Southern Africa), Uganda and Kenya (East Africa), and Algeria and Libya (North Africa).
We believe the heads of states of these countries hold the future of Africa and that they redouble their efforts on ensuring that Africa gets its position on the UNSC.
We believe the reform of the UN presents an opportunity for the former imperialists, who have plundered the continent’s resources to enrich themselves while under-developing Africa, to atone for their evil past and accept the continent as an equal partner in world affairs.
Africa must therefore continue pushing for meaningful and wide-ranging reforms of the Security Council. The continent is against cosmetic changes which will perpetuate its current position on the fringes of decision-making.
What is most important is for the African leaders to remain united over the Ezulwini Consensus. Lack of a common purpose means the continent will continue to be exploited and its people will remain poor as their resources are carted off to enrich the former colonisers.