African Union leaders expected to revive lobbying for UN Security Council reforms

Africa can have only non-permanent members who do not influence major decisions.

Sunday January 24 2016

President Uhuru Kenyatta during the 24th African Union summit at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 30, 2015. The African Union is set to renew the lobbying to reform the UN Security Council when leaders converge in Ethiopia. PHOTO | PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta during the 24th African Union summit at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 30, 2015. The African Union is set to renew the lobbying to reform the UN Security Council when leaders converge in Ethiopia. PHOTO | PSCU 

By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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The African Union is to revive its push to reform the most powerful arm the United Nations, when leaders converge on Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this week. 

Despite resistance from the five permanent members of the UN security council, Heads of State and governments of an AU a committee have recommended that member states discuss the issue again.

The 26th ordinary session of the AU general Assembly for heads of state and government will be held on January 30 and 31.

Its theme is 2016: African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on the Rights of Women.

Last week, the Committee of 10, a grouping of countries, including Kenya, was formed to lobby for UN reforms resolved to put the issue as first item on the agenda.

Other members are Algeria, Libya, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Zambia, Uganda, Equatorial Guinea and Congo.

Heads will arrive in Addis at the tail-end of the summit, endorsing or rejecting decisions reached by their foreign ministers.

AFRICA'S LACK OF INFLUENCE

The Security Council is charged with maintaining global peace.

It also admits members to the UN and can approve changes to the agency’s charter.

It has 15 members, but only five are permanent and hold veto powers. They are Russia, China, France, the UK and the USA.

Despite being the recipient of most declarations on peace and security, Africa can have only non-permanent members who do not influence major decisions.

On Tuesday, Foreign Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said the push for reforms would go on.

“The Security Council does not reflect 21st century political and economic realities. This underrepresentation is discriminatory, unfair and unjust. The C-10 agreed to sustain push for reforms as per the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration,” she said.

Kenya, alongside Equatorial Guinea were the main lobbyists for the “Africa Common Position” in 2005.

Despite meeting with permanent members of the Security Council last year, there was no substantial commitment to change anything.

AU wants at least two African countries have permanent slots in the Security Council. The C-10 proposed that the AU assembly resolves also to push for removal of veto powers if no African nation is included in the permanent category.

“The AU heads of state will decide on the timeframe and reaction to be addressed on UNSC. The C-10 will present its report to the heads of state summit,” Ms Mohamed explained.

Africa accuses the permanent members of being undemocratic and using the security council to safeguard their interests. In 2012 and 2013, Kenya was bitter when its attempts to have cases facing

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto at the ICC were deferred, after the US and the UK abstained from the vote.

The first hurdle is the five permanent members but to exact changes to the council requires more than political lobbying. Other countries like Germany, India, Brazil and Japan also feel they should be in the security council.

In fact, the UN itself formed a task force at the turn of the century to collect views on reforms. The team proposed an increase in membership of the security council from 15 to 25.

The suggestion was blocked by the current members who feared their power to veto would be diluted.

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