Africa is aware that the changes in the global power structures which it demands – particularly calls to be accorded space on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) – will not be offered on a silver platter, Sierra Leone President Ernest Koroma said on Friday.
Speaking at the Summit of the African Union Committee of 10 Heads of State (C-10) in Windhoek, Koroma said global challenges, such as terrorism, armed conflict, climate change, drug trafficking and the refugee crisis cannot be resolved without permanent seats for Africa on the UN Security Council.
“That is the truth. A wiser world should, therefore, pay heed to Africa’s aspirations. We must be part of the solution for any solution to be sustained. There are no two ways about it. Imposition of solutions on us is a non-starter,” Koroma said.
Koroma emphasised that Africa is not demanding permanent representation for the sake of it, but rather demand effective representation.
Generally a worldwide consensus has developed that Africa needs representation on the United Nations Security Council. Africa itself, however, is yet to decide which country it wants as its representative.
AU member states want the seats in the UN Security Council to be increased from 15 to 26, with six of the 11 new members allocated permanent seats with veto rights, as well as five non-permanent ones.
It was further proposed that two of the six new veto-wielding permanent seats should go to African countries, with two to Asia, one to Latin America and the Caribbean and one to Western Europe.
Little progress has been made on the issue since 2005 when the World Summit Outcome Document, which called for reform of the UNSC, was formulated – a fact to which Koroma duly referred during the just-ended C-10 summit.
Although progress is partly being stalled by most of the veto-wielding members, Africa’s leaders also share in the blame for the slow progress. This is because they have not given the UN a timeframe in which the reforms must be carried out and they also do not have a clear choice of candidate countries, should the proposal for two seats on thr UNSC be accepted.
This has seemingly given ammunition to some factions, who claim that Africa is not ready to be on the UNSC. Throughout the existence of the UN, the incumbent permanent members of the UNSC have resisted any expansion in the veto-wielding membership category.
South Africa and Nigeria are the frontrunner candidates should Africa’s wish to be included on the council be granted.
President Geingob’s view
President Hage Geingob said the composition of the current UNSC is undemocratic. “It is imperative that the UNSC be enlarged to reflect the present-day geopolitical realities,” he asserted.
Geingob said: “The question of which countries should represent Africa on the Security Council is secondary and should be left to the discretion of the African Union.”
He said it is unacceptable for the African continent, which constitutes more than a quarter of the UN membership, to remain unrepresented in the permanent category of the council.
Governance experts and scholars have since 2005 argued that the existing divisions between some African states are being exploited by those in power to delay the reform process.
Others have warned that – if not well thought through – the process of selecting the two countries to represent the continent on the UNSC might be a divisive factor, which would create a deplorable image of Africa.
“Therefore, the Common African Position for a permanent seat remains valid, viable and relevant,” Geingob said.
C-10 meeting with Britain
During a meeting with Baroness Joyce Anelay, the British Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the foreign affairs ministers of Sierra Leone (Dr Samura Kamara) and Namibia (Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah), who led a joint delegation on behalf of the C-10 for consultations on the reforms last year, the two African leaders said the continent will adopt a democratic selection process to choose its representatives.
Anelay wanted Africa to provide more detail on what it intends to do and the kind of decisions to be taken, in order to move the UNSC reform process forward. She also questioned the delegation on the issue of Africa’s representation and choice of candidate countries.
According to an AU report containing the minutes of last year’s meeting, Anelay reportedly said: “The P-5 with a veto vote is important for consistency, as well as the need to protect the P-5’s role of safeguarding peace and security in the world.” She also said if Africa has regional representation it would change the operational dynamics and functioning of the UN Security Council.
“[She was] informed that on the issue of prior identification of the states to represent Africa on Council, [the AU] is adopting a democratic selection process while ensuring effective and strong representation with capacity to take decisions in challenging circumstances and with consistency.”