By Ssemanda Allawi and
Augustin Sassi Marvin.
When United Nations (UN) was founded in October 1945, only four African countries were part of this organisation. Today, all 54 countries are member states of the UN.
Of the 193 member states, only China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States of America (USA) are the only permanent members of United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the organisation’s highest decision-making body. This gives them more powers (veto) than the rest of all UN member states when it comes to decision making in the council. including the entire African.
The irony is that Africa, whose membership at UN is nearly 28% of organisation’s total membership plays no key role despite being central in council’s work. For example, in 2018, more than 50% of UNSC meetings, 60% of its official documents and 70% of resolutions contained in Chapter VII Mandates all largely focused on Africa.
While Africa is represented on the UNSC by the so-called A3 – a block of three elected African states on UNSC, these countries have no big say since none has veto power as opposed to the other five states with permanent membership. With unity of African states through their body, African Union (AU), the role of Africa in Global affairs cannot be underestimated.
This can be attributed to closer relationship of African Countries with United Nations. This makes the continent more relevant and arguably, the reasons why it should have a permanent seat at UNSC to take part in discussing issues that directly and indirectly impact its interest(s).
Indeed, during this year’s UN general assembly which also marked 75 years of UN’s existence, almost one after the other, several African leaders repeated their calls asking for Africa to be granted permanent seat(s) on UN’s Security Council. South Africa’s President ‘who is also the current president of the African Union (AU), Cyril Ramaphosa noted that “…we repeat our call for greater representation of African countries on Security council, and that this be taken up with urgency at Intergovernmental Negotiations,” stressing that “It is only through a reformed and inclusive UN Security Council that we will be able to collectively resolve some of the world’s most protracted conflicts.” While Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari emphasised that “Nigeria supports expansion of the UNSC to reflect the diversity and dynamics of the 21st century. Africa deserves permanent seats in the UNSC.” The same message was also voiced by several other African leaders including Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo Addo who stressed that to fit the 21st century challenges, UNSC must be reformed to allow African countries representation with a permanent seat.
Why is a Permanent seat on the UNSC important for Africa? Download full document (PDF) bellow.