Africa deserves UN permanent seat


AS the 68th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly comes to a close, one of the major highlights of this year’s event was the demand by African delegates for the African continent to have permanent representation on the Security Council.
Like other African leaders have done before, President Michael Sata raised this issue once again when he addressed the session, saying in no uncertain terms that Africa needed a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
This has been the longstanding position of the African Union (AU) which has insisted that the continent deserves a seat because it is a stakeholder in much of the world body’s activities, including conflict resolutions.
In any case as we are commenting on this issue, not less than one-third of the UN member countries consist of African Heads of State and Government currently in attendance.
Previously, those who have been sympathetic to Africa’s call for representation on the UN Security Council have looked at the possibility of bringing in one of the continent’s two heavyweights – South Africa or Nigeria.
But because of internal conflicts mainly fueled by the Moslem fundamentalist group, the Boko Haram (which literary translated means Western education is evil), the West African country has had little chance of making it, leaving the Southern African nation as the sole prospective candidate.
Other people say there is no need to have more permanent members of the Security Council and have instead demanded that because Europe has two representatives, namely, the United Kingdom and France, the latter be removed from the five-member body and be replaced by a country outside Europe.
But instead of proposing the seat currently held by France to go to Africa, these people, mainly from the West, have rather said it should be given to another emerging powerhouse, India.
This has again tended to create another ambiguity because it will mean the Asian region, which is already represented by the People’s Republic of China, will have two representatives just like Europe
currently has.
We really don’t exactly understand why those people who do not want an increase in the number of the permanent members of the UN Security Council want France to be removed and replaced by any country.
We could just assume that may be it is because of all the members of body, only France is not considered to be the victor of World War 11, having been one of those nations in Europe that were overrun, only to be liberated by the US and UK.
Also known as the Permanent Five, Big Five, or P5, these represent the great powers, four of whom are considered to be victors of World War Two.
Only each one of these five heavyweights has the power to veto, which effectively enables them to prevent the adoption of any substantive draft Council resolution, regardless of the level of international support for the draft.
Africa’s demand is justified because ever since the UN’s founding way back in 1946, the world body has seen two seat changes since then.
Originally, China’s seat was held by the Republic of China and when this was defeated during the Chinese Civil War and retreated to the island of Taiwan, the communist party won control of mainland China, established the People’s Republic of China and, consequently, was in 1971 recognised as representative of China in the UN and given a seat on the Security Council.
Another change is that which was initially held by the Soviet Union.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the UN Security Council’s permanent seat was given to the Russian Federation.
These changes basically show that nothing is static and another change is possible to accommodate an African representation, even if this means replacing the ‘tiny’ France.