PRESIDENT Hage Geingob and other African leaders continued calls for the reform of the United Nations Security Council, principally through the granting of two permanent seats to the continent, remains justified and urgent.
Upon his return from the attending the Fourth Consultative Summit of the African Union Committee of Ten Heads of State, on the Reform of the Security Council, held in Equatorial Guinea, last week Geingob said that is unacceptable that the continent, which is home to more than one billion people, still has no permanent representation.
He also reiterated the demand by AU member states for two permanent seats on the council.
Things have to change, especially because 70 percent of the issues that go to the Security Council are about Africa, and the council therefore cannot continue to be without permanent membership from the continent.
Currently, the Security Council consists of 15 members.
Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China and the United States serve as the body’s five permanent members. These permanent members can veto any substantive Security Council resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or candidates for the UN secretary-general position. The Security Council also has 10 non-permanent members, elected on a regional basis to serve two-year terms. However, they have no veto powers.
The Security Council powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorisation of military action through resolutions.
It is imperative to understand Geingob’s narrative, which is correcting the historical injustices suffered by the African continent, and giving it the power to intervene substantively in unfolding global affairs.
Two permanent seats for Africa are long overdue, and therefore should be addressed as a matter of great priority.
African leaders have repeatedly called on the UN to consider this, as the only way the global body and its Security Council will gain true legitimacy and acceptance, which has often been questioned.
For this reason, it is highly justifiable that President Geingob as well as his predecessor, former President Hifikepunye Pohamba dedicated their foreign policy to further expand and intensify the advancement of the common African position, as outlined in the Ezulwini Consensus, which underscores Africa’s goal to be fully represented in all decision-making organs of the UN, particularly the Security Council.
The Security Council does not reflect 21st century political and economic realities. The underrepresentation of Africa in permanent Security Council posts is discriminatory, unfair and unjust, and hence it is disappointing that since 2005 no substantive progress has been made.
Most positions on the reform process have become entrenched. Although the UN Charter does not explicitly outline the qualification criteria for membership in the permanent category of the Security Council, the principle of equitable geographical representation remains key.
The Security Council is charged with maintaining global peace. It also admits members to the UN and can approve changes to the agency’s charter.
Despite being the recipient of most declarations on peace and security, at this stage, Africa cannot effectively influence major decisions, a narrative that must change urgently.
Africa should continue to hold strong to its stance of having UN Security veto powers, as it has done for the past years.
And may we continue to see continental unity on the UN Security Council reform issue.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015