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Published:August 23rd, 2005 05:32 EST
No More 0 Seats

No More 0 Seats

By Jermaine Uwahiriwe

All Africans eyes are on the expected UN reform, and most importantly on the Security Council expansion. Africa has never stopped calling for its permanent seats in the UN.
What is Africa expecting to gain from the proposed United Nations reforms? Shall these reforms focus more on Africa, knowing that most humanitarian issues affecting the world are found there? At the UN summit in September, will African delegations convince the world about the seriousness of this issue?
2005 will surely be a landmark year for United Nations reform, and in particular for the enlargement of the Security Council.

The relevance of Permanent seats: In the present constellation, the Council's permanent members are all from the North, yet its decisions primarily concern the South, which is clearly untenable.
One, two or more seats at the UN Security Council should be relevant, thus making the UN become more proactive and cope with the realities of the present world, especially in Africa. They should not take a passive role in African affairs anymore, as they did during the Rwandan genocide; no more slow conflict resolutions on the continent.
The Security Council remains geographically unbalanced and seriously unrepresentative. With this permanent representation, Africa will no longer stay away from International decisions that affect and influence the fate of its people. With these seats, more than ever, Africans will be seen as masters of their own destiny and not just a people in need of help. Permanent seats will also be an opportunity to Africans to prove to the rest of the world that they have a clear vision of what they can achieve.

For Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria or any other nation, no matter what country it may be, the inclusion of a proper African representation must affect the handling of Africa’s problems, and how quickly and effective the UNSC responds to crises in African countries. The seats are to help solve the many problems we have.

"Africa needs to take a strong position at the UN Millennium summit slated for September this year.", says Obasanjo, Nigerian President.

The road to the reform: When the Charter of the United Nations entered into force in 1945, the Security Council had eleven members-- five permanent and six non-permanent members. In 1965, following the emergence of many newly independent countries in the wake of the first wave of decolonization, the Security Council was, for the first and only time to date, enlarged by an additional four non-permanent members, bringing it up to its present membership of fifteen. A renewed surge in United Nations membership and above all the radically changed realities of the post-Cold War world prompted growing demands for a further enlargement of the Security Council.
Under the guidance of a former President of the General Assembly, Malaysian Ambassador Razali Ismail, in 1997, some concrete and workable proposals for Security Council reform were made (commonly known as “The Razali Plan”). Having been elaborated in lengthy discussions with 165 UN member states, these proposals reflected the views of the majority. New permanent members would not initially have the power of veto. It is, however, notable that no vote was ever taken on the Razali Plan.

I’m still concerned about the worsening financial crisis, clashes over technocratic language and, above all this, the growing Uniting for Consensus, a profound opposition against this 24 member proposal. Won’t they stand as a fatal hinderance?  I used to take this emerging opposition for granted, thinking it was a kind of national rivalities, political disagreements existing between neighbors (Argentina vs Brazil or Pakistan against Indian candidature), but not targetting the African permanent representation.

Please dont make your disagreements disturb the African opportunity!

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