AFRICA like any other region and country, has for a long time been pushing for permanent representation at the United Nations (UN) Security Council.
India is another country that has also sought to be a permanent member of the Security Council because of various benefits for the region it represents.
As Zambia hosts the African Union (AU) Committee of 10 Summit starting tomorrow in Livingstone, all these issues are expected to be brought to the fore.
With distinguished leaders that include President Edgar Lungu, newly elected Namibian President Hage Geingob and President Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone expected to attend this high level meeting, the onus will be on the delegates themselves to deliberate the way forward for Africa’s UN security Coucil representation bid.
So far, over 60 United Nations member States have never been members of the Security Council.
Out of the 193 members of the UN, Africa has 54 states, making it the continent with the highest number of UN member States.
Currently the UN Security Council is composed of five permanent members China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. There are 10 non-permanent members of which only South Africa, Morocco and Togo are from Africa.
The non-permanent seats are on a two-year regional rotational basis.
A State which is a member of the UN but not of the Security Council may participate, without a vote, in its discussions when the council considers that, such a country’s interests are affected.
For members and non-members of the UN, if they are parties to a dispute being considered by the council, may be invited to take part, without a vote, in the council’s discussions; the council sets the conditions for participation by a non-member State.
It is against this background that even during the 67th General Assembly of the UN in 2012; late president Michael Sata demanded that Africa should have permanent seats on the UN Security Council.
Mr Sata made the demand when he addressed the high-level meeting on the rule of law in the UN General Assembly Hall in New York.
Mr Sata urged Africans to stand up and be counted.
“Since the League of Nations and up to today, Africa is more of a spectator than a participant. We have no permanent members in the Security Council and yet we represent 54 members in this House,” said Mr Sata.
“We cannot talk of the rule of law when we are not respecting each other. Therefore, all Africans must stand up and be counted. We must also become permanent members of the Security Council.”
The League of Nations was the forerunner to the UN.
Mr Sata’s statement was in line with the Committee of 10, commonly known as C-10, which is an African Union (AU)-formation advocating for Africa to have two permanent seats on the UN Security Council with veto powers.
Therefore, the AU has continued to push to have this seat where Zambia and Namibia represents the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region on the C-10.
Zambia is hosting the C-10 Summit on the UN Security Council Reforms in Livingstone on May 9, which President Edgar Lungu is expected to attend.
The Livingstone Strategy for Acceleration of the UN Reforms” is the theme of the Summit which will be preceded by a preparatory meeting of Foreign Affairs ministers from the C-10 member countries.
Ambassadors and permanent representatives from Addis Ababa and New York would also attend the meeting.
Among the Heads of State that had confirmed attendance of the meeting includes Namibian and Sierra Leone Presidents, Hage Geingob and Ernest Bai Koroma respectively.
The mandate of the C-10 is to pursue Africa’s common position, The Ezulwini Consensus, in the reform process of the UN Security Council.
The calls for the reforms were heightened at the 2005 World Summit with demands for the Security Council to be more representative, inclusive, accountable and transparent in its decision making processes.
“Since then, negotiations have continued at a pace that has witnessed little progress as Africa continues to call for more equitable representation on the global body,” Mr Kalaba said.
The African Union Summit of 2008 came up with the C-10 to spearhead the reform process on behalf of the African group.
The summit would among other things discuss the progress made towards the realisation of Security Council reforms with a view of advancing the common African position, means and ways of expediting the acceptance of the African position within and beyond the continent.
According to the UN Security Council brief, membership of the UN Security Council is held by the five permanent members and elected, non-permanent members.
Prior to 1966, there were six elected members, while the permanent members have in essence not changed since the creation of the UN in 1945, apart from the representation of China.
Elected members hold their place on the Council for a two-year term, and half of these places are contested each year.
To ensure geographical continuity, a certain number of members is allocated for each of the five UN regional groupings.
The permanent membership in UN Security Council entitles certain rights and powers.
The UN’s role in international collective security is defined by the UN Charter, which gives the Security Council the powers to.
Under the Charter, the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.
It has 15 members, and each member has one vote. Under the Charter, all member States are obligated to comply with council decisions.
The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression.
It calls upon the parties to a dispute to settle it by peaceful means and recommends methods of adjustment or terms of settlement.
In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorise the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.
The Security Council also recommends to the General Assembly the appointment of the secretary-general and the admission of new members to the UN.
Together with the General Assembly, it elects the judges of the International Court of Justice.
The UN Security Council ‘power of veto’ refers to the veto power wielded solely by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council:
-Investigate any situation threatening international peace.
-Recommend procedures for peaceful resolution of a dispute.
-Call upon other member nations to completely or partially interrupt economic relations as well as sea, air, postal, and radio communications, or to sever diplomatic relations.
-Enforce its decisions militarily, or by any means necessary.
-The Counter-Terrorism Committee is a subsidiary body of the United Nations Security Council.
-The Military Staff Committee (MSC) is the United Nations Security Council subsidiary body whose role, as defined by the United Nations Charter, is to plan UN military operations and assist in the regulation of armaments.
India is another country striving hard to get a membership in the UN Security Council, as part of its strategy to get a permanent status India is playing a very active role in maintaining good bilateral relations with nations who are supporting the permanent membership for India.
Providing financial aid to countries like Afghanistan, Burundi, Myanmar to get support from these nations, and enhance India’s role among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) countries is also important to get this coveted status and thus join the five permanent countries on the UN Security Council.
The SAARC is an organisation of South Asian nations, which was established on December 8, 1985 when the government of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan.
Sri Lanka formally adopted its charter providing for the promotion of economic and social progress, cultural development within the South Asia region and also for friendship and co-operation with other developing countries.
The BRICS members are all developing or newly industrialised countries, but they are distinguished by their large, fast-growing economies and significant influence on regional and global affairs, all five are G-20 members.
The ASEAN is a geo-political and economic organisation of ten countries located in Southeast Asia, which was formed on August 8, 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
Since then, membership has expanded to include Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Its aims include accelerating economic growth, social progress, and cultural development among its members, protection of regional peace and stability, and opportunities for member countries to discuss differences peacefully.