For more on Africa's participation at the U.N. General Assembly, VOA’s James Butty spoke to Ambassador James Jonas, a former UN official under the Secretary General for Political Affairs.
The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.
VOA: What are your thoughts on Africa’s participation during the vote held on Wednesday at the U.N. General Assembly over Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions?
Jonas: Africa and many countries in the global south have three problems.
The first problem is their concern over long standing double standards in the United Nations. Secondly, they have become too dependent on outside powers for their survival, economically and otherwise. Thirdly, they are concerned about being punished for voting the wrong way.
You will recall that at the beginning of the debate, the Russian delegation tried to get a secret ballot on the grounds of them having information that several nations in the global south were pressured to vote in favor of the resolution.
The Russian proposal was rejected by the General Assembly, and I am not surprised by the outcome of the vote because if you remove Russia and called upon all members of the General Assembly to reflect their thoughts on the annexation, an overwhelming majority will say they do not accept it in principle, which is why some African nations and others in the global south abstained from voting.
VOA: For the countries that abstained their votes, does this mean they are pro or against Russia annexing the four Ukrainian regions?
Jonas: Abstaining does not mean support. The nations that abstained rejected to vote one way or the other, however, as I said earlier on, in principle I do not know of any members of the United Nations that would accept the idea of occupation and annexation.
I also want to highlight that the countries that abstained know that there are many cases of member states who have occupied and annexed other nations with no repercussions, however the U.N. has always said all nations that have annexed or occupied other territories would be considered null and void.