A failure to find consensus on proposed reforms of the United Nations Security Council has snuffed Africa’s hopes to see its voice being heard louder within the international organisation, analysts said on Tuesday.
“The UN Security Council reform is over. There are a lot of losers, there is Africa,” said Tom Wheeler, of the South African Institute for International Affairs in Johannesburg.
Meant to be the centrepiece of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s ambitious plan to reform the world body as it opens a major summit in New York on Wednesday, UN Security Council reforms have become a victim of competing egos and the interests of rival nations.
Annan is hoping for results on the subject “by the end of the year”, but admitted that if significant reform of the UN cannot be achieved this year, it may have to wait several years.
After lengthy talks, Africa’s final proposal made in Addis Ababa in early August pushed for two permanent Security Council seats — with the right to veto resolutions — as well as five non-permanent council seats, of which two should go to Africa.
This stance quashed any possible agreement with a proposal made by the so-called Group of Four (G4) nations: Brazil, Germany, India and Japan, which has called for boosting council membership to 25, with six new permanent non-veto-wielding seats.
Africa has been divided on the issue, with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo saying at the opening of the Addis Ababa summit: “We need to negotiate with other groups, unless our objective is to prevent any decision.”
But a group of countries driven by Algeria has considered that the continent must stick to its first demand and will not be associated with the G4 initiative.
John Daniel, of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) in South Africa, said the discord within Africa highlights the limitations of an “African position”.
“It highlights the fact that there are more things that divide the continent that unify it,” Daniel said.
Many observers believe that by choosing to insist on having the right to veto, Africa has failed a test of against pragmatism and squandered an opportunity.
“It was not a tactically sound game that the Africans pursued,” said Adekeye Adebajo at the Cape Town-based Centre for Conflict Resolution. “They have shot themselves in the foot.”
The disagreement in Africa’s strategy has shown up national ambitions and rival personalities that have weighed on the debates.
Regional powerhouses Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa were seen as the favourites for potential permanent seats while Kenya, Angola, Libya and Senegal also made a claim.
Despite a failure in results, certain countries on the continent believe that the whole process allowed Africa to clearly show its demands to the world.
“Our fight is more of a moral demand because Africa is marginalised, yet it is most affected by conflicts and other disasters,” said Uganda’s Foreign Permanent Secretary, Julius Onen.
“Like we demanded for independence, we demanded for the end to apartheid, we don’t care how long this will take because it is a moral fight,” he said.
“We want to come to the dinner and eat at the table,” he added. — AFP