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ANC policy papers show discontent with world bodies

Gillian Jones

The ANC discussion document on international relations says the UN, World Bank and International Monetary Fund must be reformed.

The United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) must be reformed, according to an ANC discussion document on international relations.

“The current global governance regimes remain untransformed and ill-prepared to respond to the systemic challenges that are arising,” the ANC said in policy papers released on Monday.

“Therefore, the commitment to reform of the United Nations and the international finance institutions, especially the World Bank and the IMF, is also a matter of necessity.”

Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe, who is also policy sub committee chairperson of the ANC’s national executive committee, told reporters that the discussion document explored the ANC’s role given the changing international balance of forces.

The document was among those that would form the basis for discussion at the ANC policy conference in July.

According to the document, global governance regimes, particularly the UN, had remained largely unchanged since 1945.

The UN Security Council should be transformed to reflect the current balance of power.

Change in leadership
“We reject the idea that five permanent members of the UN Security Council should hold sway over global decision-making and that the more democratically constituted General Assembly and its organs be reduced into a mere talk shop,” the ANC said.

It called for a change in the leadership of the IMF and World Bank.

“The disproportionate decision-making power the west also enjoys in the governance structures of both institutions ought to change.”

African representatives, however, would not necessarily improve the institutions.

“[I]t would be foolish, given our history and experience, to believe that African representation would automatically mean progressive agendas and programmes.”

The ANC suggested accountability mechanisms were necessary to ensure those deployed to these institutions furthered the African agenda.

It criticised the G20—a group representing 20 major developing economies—for having become a “legitimising platform” for the G8—the group of eight of the largest economies in the world.

“For this reason, we may have to recognise that the G20 is not yet [a] platform for fresh new thinking on global economic governance, nor should new approaches be expected to emerge out of it in the absence of pro-active strategic interventions by progressives.”

The ANC had to question what it had done to influence the G20’s agenda and whether it had legitimised failed ideologies.

The document examined South Africa’s role in Africa.

“We have resisted the call for us to take a hegemonic posture, which others have called a robust regional leadership that we lack.”

Therefore, the party had to “respond dynamically and with speed in defence of African renaissance”.

Western Europe and the United States had marginalised the African Union in the way they had dealt with the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East.

However, the slow response of the African Union could not be excused, the ANC said.

“These developments pose a serious challenge for South Africa as a member on the UN Security Council dedicated to pushing an African agenda.”

The ANC called for the strengthening of African leadership and institutions.

“Unless something drastic is done to strengthen the institutions and leadership in Africa, its voice and choices will continue to diminish.

“Africa, being a fast growing economic and demographic region, will remain a magnet for competition between old and new powers over the continent’s rich natural resources.”

This called for the reinvigorating of continental and regional institutions like the AU, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, the African Peer Review Mechanism and the Southern African Development Community.—Sapa

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