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African Calls for Representation at UN Signify 'Isolation': Analysts


World leaders address the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York City, U.S., September 26, 2022.

Analysts say calls by African leaders to reform the United Nations and expand the U.N. Security Council is a ''reflection of the feeling of isolation'' at one of the highest multilateral decision-making bodies in the world.

During the recent 77th session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Nigeria, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic reiterated the need for U.N. reforms with Africa's most populous nation calling for two permanent seats on the Security Council for Africa.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said in his address last week that global challenges “emphasize the call by Nigeria and many other member states for the reform of the Security Council,” adding that “more effective and representative structures” are desperately needed more than seven decades since the formation of the global body.

The U.N. Security Council is mandated to maintain international peace and security and is composed of 15 members, five of which are permanent members with veto rights — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The other 10 states have two-year terms and are elected by the General Assembly. Only 3 African countries have non-permanent seats - Gabon, Ghana and Kenya. Kenya's term ends in 2022, while Gabon and Ghana will have seats until 2023.

Abuja-based security risk management and intelligence analyst Kabir Adamu told VOA that the U.N. “is grounded on the principles of equity, justice and fairness'' but continues to suffer a lack of representation from all continents.

''Decisions are being taken that have fundamental impact on the African continent, and yet Africans are not represented on the boards where decisions are taken,'' he said.

''It's not feasible to have two African countries represented on the U.N. Security Council as permanent members given the current geopolitical situation in the world,'' he said, but added that ''from a foreign policy perspective, one can understand where Nigeria is coming from.’'

Temitope Olodo, president of the Africa Security Forum, told VOA that he believes Africa could have two permanent Security Council seats since ''Africa has played its role in global peace” and “70% of decisions made within the Security Council tend to affect African countries.''

''If Africa is being viewed as the next hot bed for terrorism because of the challenges with global terrorism right now, then you need people that understand the perimeters of the challenges to be involved — like in Congo, the Sahel, so they can better contribute and add value to the conversation,'' he said, calling the lack of African representation “ridiculous and more or less scandalous.”

So far, countries like Nigeria and South Africa are favored to represent the continent as permanent members, analysts say. U.S. President Joe Biden also voiced support for increasing permanent and non-permanent seats.

Adamu said the African continent would benefit “if it rallies round and puts forward the candidature of one country,'' adding that ''the natural choice would be Nigeria because of the size of its economy, and the fact that it has led peacekeeping efforts in Africa and parts of the world in the past.''

This is not the first time calls have been made by Africa for reforms at the U.N. In 2010, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan told the 65th General Assembly that reforms would “better reflect the current global realities and also ensure that it enjoins genuine legitimacy.''

In 2005, the African Union presented a proposal at the 59th UNGA seeking to remedy ''historical injustice by according Africa permanent representation on the Security Council.''

African, Latin American and Caribbean nations all lack permanent seats on the Security Council.

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