By BRIAN HATYOKA –
After suffering for many centuaries under slavery and colonialism, Africa is now free.
But though free politically, the continent endowed with vast natural resources, is largely underdeveloped with slow or none of industrialisation process taking place especially in civil war-torn regions.
This has resulted in high levels of unemployment, hunger, poverty and disease.
On global political affairs, the continent is turned into a mere spectator as its representation on important decision-making committees at the United Nations(UN).
Despite having more members in the global club family, Africa’s representation in the UN Security Council is still far fetched and this has greatly affected its participation in decision making process.
Out of 193 members of the UN, Africa has 54 countries, making it a continent with the largest number of UN member states.
Currently, the UN Security Council is composed of United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France and China.
Further, there are 10 non-permanent members of which only South Africa as well as Morocco and Togo are from Africa.
It is against this gloomy background that African countries have been pushing to have permanent seats on the UN Security Council.
A Committee of Ten Heads of State or commonly referred to as C-10 on UN Security Council Reform and related matters has been charged by the African Union (AU) with the responsibility of spearheading the pursuit of Africa’s Common Agenda on reforms of the Security Council.
In 2005, the AU adopted the Common African Position on the Proposed Reform of the UN commonly known as Ezulwini Consensus.
The Ezulwini Consensus calls for a thorough institutional transformation of the UN System including the General Assembly, the UN Secretariat, UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Commission on Human Rights and the UN Security Council.
Accordingly, the Ezulwini Consensus propounds five ideas that the continent still holds dear to-date and these are:
• Africa’s goal to be fully represented in all decision-making organs of the UN, particularly in the Security Council;
• Full representation of Africa in the UN Security Council means
(a) no less than two permanent seats with all the prerogatives and privileges and
(b) five non-permanent seats;
• As long as the principle of veto exists, it must be extended to all permanent members of the UN Security Council;
• The AU should be responsible for the selection of Africa’s
representatives in the UN Security Council; and
• The criteria for selection of Africa’s members of the UN Security Council should be the responsibility of the AU taking into account the representative nature and capacity of those chosen.
Last week, the C-10 held a Summit on the Reforms of the UN Security Council in Zambia’s at David Livingstone Safari Lodge in the Zambian tourist capital of Livingstone.
The Summit was held under the theme ‘The Livingstone Strategy for Accelerating UN Reforms’.
It was hosted by Zambian Republican President Edgar Lungu and chaired by Sierra Leonean President Ernest Bai Koroma who is also C-10 coordinator while, Namibian President Hage Geingob was also attendance .
Heads of Delegations, who represented their Heads of State and Government during the Summit, were Libyan Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Deputy President Ihmed Homa and Equatorial Guinea Foreign Affairs Minister Agapito Mba Mokuy.
Others were Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Basile Ikouebe, Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Amina Mohamed, Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ramtane Lamamra, Senegal Minister in charge of Senegalese Abroad Souleymane Jules Diop and Ugandan Minister of State for Foreign and International Affairs Oryem Henry Okello.
Also in attendance was AU Commissioner for Political Affairs Aisha Laraba Abdullahi and advisor to the President of the 69th UN General
Assembly on UN Security Council reform Robert Mugimba.
The objectives of the Summit were to consider reports of the C-10 Foreign Ministers on their consultations with Permanent Five (P-5) member States of the Security Council relating to the Africa’s Common position on the reform of the UN Security Council.
Other objectives were to evaluate the status of the outreach of the Committee with other interest groups with a view to achieving the best possible outcome of the Committee’s mandate.
The Summit was also supposed to examine developments in the on-going Inter-Governmental Negotiations (IGN) on the Security Council Reform process in the context of convergences and nuances in the various positions.
It was also expected to map out strategies to further expand and intensify advancement of the African Common position as countries approach the 70th anniversary of the UN.
The Livingstone Summit was intended to create impetus in the reform process in order to correct historical injustice.
At the end of the Summit, delegates reaffirmed that the African Common Position as outlined in all the principles of the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration, remained valid and viable and should continue to serve as rallying points for Africa and the basis for
garnering support from the various interest groups.
The Summit also took note of the merging consensus to move towards text based negotiations and reaffirmed its commitment to the inter-governmental negotiation process, consistent with Decision 62/557 based on agreed principles and criteria.
It further welcomed and expressed appreciation to all African Heads of State and Government who had continued to advance the Common African Position at every given opportunity in their engagement at bilateral and international meetings.
“The Summit agreed that Africa should continue to canvass the support of other Member States with a view to correcting the injustice and inequality within the UN system, especially as it affects the continent,” the communique states.
In his opening speech during the official opening of the Summit, President Lungu urged African countries to garner the necessary support from other UN member states to legitimise the Ezulwini consensus and Sirte Declaration adopted 10 years ago which are the bedrock of the African common position on the reform of the UN Security Council.
Mr Lungu said 53 African member states had unanimously converged around the Ezulwini consensus but the continent needed to receive 128
members of the UN in order for the Ezulwini to have legitimacy.
He called for unwavering focus and consolidated efforts as a united front to realise a goal of a reformed and inclusive UN Security Council.
Mr Lungu said it was a matter of regret that the UN had fallen short of adapting to the evolving demands of the global community as far as the Security Council was concerned.
“It is regrettable that 70 per cent of the UN Security Council agenda is on Africa, while Africa remains the only region totally excluded from making decisions on issues affecting it.
“Without addressing this disparity, the UN risks negating the gains of its 70 years of advancing democracy, equity and inclusiveness,” Mr Lungu said.
He said Africa’s was confident that its demands and expectations for reformed and inclusive UN Security Council would be met.
Mr Lungu said it was incumbent upon the torch bearers of the Ezulwini consensus to rise to the challenge and ensure Africa’s geo-political presence in the UN Security Council.
“As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the African common position, let us take stock of the successful milestones and the challenges on the path of the reform within our Ezulwini consensus.
“Clearly, there is need to re-ignite the demand for Africa to be heard and granted its place at the Security Council table,” Mr Lungu said.
He said Africa’s exclusion from issues of international peace and security at the UN should be met by the appropriate and justified response that would effectively promote inclusiveness, transparency, accountability, and equitable representation in the UN Security Council.
Mr Lungu urged members of the C-10 to continue consulting as widely as possible with the objective of garnering support for the Africa’s common position.
Dr Koroma said it was unacceptable that Africa had remained the only region in the world that was not represented in the permanent category of the UN Security Council.
He said it was high time the world corrected such moral and political imbalance against the African continent.
He urged the entire membership of the UN to translate their genuine sympathies and support for the Africa’s common position on the Security Council reform.
According to Dr Koroma, the voices of 1.1 billion people in Africa must not be ignored.
“Africa is resolute on this: We will take our rightful place in the Security Council; our rightful place includes seats in the permanent representation category; and our rightful place demands that if other permanent representatives must have veto powers, Africa’s permanent
representatives must have veto powers.
“We have not demanded more than other regions, we are only demanding equal treatment in the world’s premier body,” Dr Koroma said.
He said there was need to take the year 2015 as a watershed year in the reform of the UN while acting in the larger interest of unity and mutual respect.
“The landmark commitment we made at the turn of the millennium in the form of Millennium Development Goals, ends in 2015 and it will be coming up for renewal.
“This year should not simply be a renewal of commitment and the drawing up of a renewed framework for global development; it should also be a year for the renewal of the noble ideals of the UN for a more democratic and fairer world,” Dr Koroma said.
Dr Geingob said there was no justification for the UN to deny Africans of their rights to have permanent seats on the Security
“We are just demanding for our rights and we must show the seriousness of our demands by attending the meetings or summit so that we show
people that we mean business,” the Namibian President said.
AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said the Ezulwini Consensus still remained the clarion for the AU Agenda for UN reforms.
In a speech read for her by Dr Abdullahi, Dr Zuma said the power of the Ezulwini Consensus had been reinforced by the 2005 Sirte Declaration on the reform of the UN in which leaders reiterated their commitment to preserve Africa’s unity and solidarity in their selection of its representatives in the Security Council.
She said there was need to ensure that Africa was allowed to play its rightful role in the international politics.
Dr Zuma said without UN reforms, the global system would forever remain a theatre for the survival of the fittest, whereby, the powerful do what they want, while the weak can do what they can, with the approval of the powerful.
She said for Africa to realise the noble goal towards a fair representation in the UN through reforms, countries and leaders on the continent should act in unison and talk with one voice as well as promote collective responsibility.
And speaking during the closing ceremony of the Summit, Mr Lungu urged African countries to speak with one voice on the reforms for the UN.
“Now we have groups or individual members of the AU who speak with different voices and singing different hymns. I think we should not
allow that. Let us focus on the AU position as we go forward,” Mr Lungu said.
Zambia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba said the just ended Summit was a huge success and a step in the right direction.
Mr Kalaba said the findings of the Livingstone Summit would be taken to the next AU summit where, they would be deliberated and acted upon.
He also said the absence of seven Heads of State during the Summit had no effect as all decisions passed during the Summit were binding since all 10 member states were represented during the meeting.