Africa in the UN Security Council

Published on 14th November 2017

Following the 2005 World Outcome Summit, a number of Heads of State and Government continue to reaffirm the need to reform the Security Council in order to make it more broadly representative, democratic, effective, transparent, accessible and legitimate. There is the need therefore, to seek the goal of reaching an agreement on a reform model that would take into account the core values of the United Nations.

As a Group, Africa remains convinced of the need for a comprehensive reform of the United Nations System which upholds the principles, objectives and ideals of the UN Charter for a fairer world based on universalism, equity and regional balance. To this end, we remain true and faithful to the General Assembly Decision 62/557 and other relevant General Assembly Decisions for a comprehensive reform of the Security Council, encompassing the Five Main Clusters and taking into account of their inter-connectedness as agreed upon by this Assembly.

It is evidently clear that there is a general agreement to reform the Security Council, despite the existence of some disagreement on the exact method to achieve the reform. What is notable however, is the fact that, there is convergence in the intergovernmental negotiations including a growing support for expansion in both the Permanent and Non-Permanent categories of the Security Council. In fact, this view is shared by a wide cross section of the membership of this Noble Assembly. This resonates with the political commitment made by our leaders in 2005. Also, there is a considerable support for the inclusion of small and medium size States, and of course, an enhanced African representation in an expanded Security Council.  As a group, we note that, the main thrust of all the various Groups and stakeholders’ positions as advanced is, to ensure that, the Council represents the present global geo-political realities. This, we believe, will help ensure the promotion and preservation of the principles of equity and democracy as well as further enhance the legitimacy and effectiveness of the United Nations and, the Security Council in particular.

Since the adoption of Decision 62/557, the reform process has, at best, cautiously forged on and has been going at a very slow pace to say the least. The positions and proposals of the various groups and Member States have been stated and restated during the many exchanges of the Inter-Governmental Negotiations. Convergences, divergences and possible sticky areas are now very well known. There is no doubt that; the past exchanges have been productive and interactive. However, actual negotiations have really not begun. This, we believe, is a commendable point of departure, where, it is time to move from rhetoric to action and to produce the desired results of the 2005 World Outcome Summit. We therefore hope that, the spirit of an effective interactive approach focusing on a possible negotiating process in the not too distant future, will dictate the pace of the reform process.

At this stage, a work plan, a timeline for negotiations and the modalities by which agreements could be reached on given issues is of great necessity. This could help set the pace for moving the reform process in a more meaningful direction with a view to driving it towards real negotiations. It is therefore crucial for the entire membership of this august assembly to firstly agree on the principles and criteria of the negotiations vis-à-vis, the Five Negotiable Clusters and their relationship.

Accordingly, in seeking progress on the reform process, we must, at this stage, endeavor to reach an agreement on how to move forward and reconcile the outcome of documents produced during the 69th , 70th and 71st Sessions with a view to forming the basis for the work of the IGN during this session.

What is of critical significance in guiding the reform process is the acknowledgment of the interlinkages of the Five Negotiable Clusters. Indeed, we cannot talk about the size of an enlarged Security Council without talking about the categories of its membership. The reason being – An enlargement of the Council in both the Permanent and Non-Permanent categories will no doubt affect its size. Also, the size of an enlarged Council will affect the cluster on equitable regional representation. In other words, to correct the current imbalance of the Security Council, we must enlarge its size which must also take into account the need to redress the prolonged historical injustice done to Africa. This, therefore, explains the need for a comprehensive reform of the Security Council as opposed to a piecemeal and or intermediate procedural reform of the Council.

Considering the present international landscape, it is unacceptable for Africa to be the only continent not to be represented in the Permanent Category and at the same time, under-represented in the Non-Permanent category of the Council. We will therefore, continue to demand for the allocation of no less than two Permanent Seats to Africa, with all the prerogatives and privileges of Permanent membership and a total of five Non-Permanent seats. The selection of such representatives will be done by our regional organization, the African Union, which has enviable credentials in selecting its candidates to serve in multilateral organizations including the UN.

This demand, which is a continental aspiration, is to ensure Africa’s right to a fair and equitable geographical representation in the Security Council. The need to adhere to this demand and to address the grossly unjust scenario is fundamental. Any delay would mean further perpetuating and compounding injustice, and concomitantly denying the region its rightful place in the major decision making organ of this organization. We are therefore pleased that, a considerable number of Member States support the enlargement of the Security Council to reflect an equitable regional representation.

Our continued participation in this debate is firmly rooted in our commitment to the Common African Position articulated in the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration. We remain firmly convinced that, the Common African Position continues to enjoy the broadest support from the majority of the membership and remains to be a viable option on the reform process. Africa, therefore, continues to urge all interest groups, stakeholders and the wider UN membership to demonstrate commitment towards correcting the historical injustice by concretely supporting its position which will no doubt, lead to reforming the Council into a more inclusive, democratic and effective organ.

 Africa is very much committed to this important issue of reform. We will remain open to work alongside and or together with any other initiative, that will take into account and, factor in it, the level of momentum and support the Common African Position has gained so far. We continue to urge for more frank debates, which will generate the necessary political will leading to the much needed reform of the Security Council to better reflect the geopolitical realities of the 21st Century.

By Ambassador Adikalie Foday Sumah

Chair of The African Group and Coordinator of The African Union Committee of 10 on The UN Security Council Reform.

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