Biden Backs Africa’s Bid for Permanent Seats on UN Security Council

by Victor Adetimilehin

US President Joe Biden has announced his support for adding permanent members from Africa to the UN Security Council, a move that could boost the continent’s voice and influence in global affairs. Biden made the statement at the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, where he also pledged to work with other countries to reform the Council and make it more representative and effective.

The UN Security Council is the most powerful organ of the UN, with the authority to impose sanctions, authorize peacekeeping missions, and take action to maintain international peace and security. However, the Council has been widely criticized for being outdated, undemocratic, and unresponsive to the changing realities of the world. The Council has 15 members, of which five are permanent and have veto power: China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US. The other 10 are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms, with five seats reserved for Africa.

African leaders have long demanded a fairer representation on the Council, arguing that the continent deserves at least two permanent seats with veto power, as well as more non-permanent seats. This position, known as the Ezulwini Consensus, was adopted by the African Union in 2005 and has been reiterated in various forums and resolutions. However, the reform process has been stalled by the lack of consensus among the existing permanent members and other regional groups.

Biden’s endorsement of Africa’s aspiration is seen as a significant gesture of goodwill and recognition of the continent’s role and contribution to global peace and security. Africa hosts the largest number of UN peacekeeping operations and is a key partner in addressing various challenges, such as terrorism, climate change, poverty, and human rights. Biden also acknowledged that the US needs to work with Africa to tackle the common threats and opportunities of the twenty-first century.

However, Biden’s announcement does not guarantee that the reform will happen anytime soon, as there are still many obstacles and complexities to overcome. The reform requires the approval of two-thirds of the General Assembly and all the permanent members of the Council, which means that any of them can veto the proposal. Moreover, there are competing interests and proposals from other regions, such as Asia, Latin America, and Europe, that also seek more representation and influence on the Council.

Therefore, the reform will require a lot of diplomacy, dialogue, and compromise from all the stakeholders, as well as a clear vision and strategy from the African countries themselves. The upcoming US-Africa Leaders Summit, scheduled for early 2023, could be an opportunity to advance the discussion and build momentum for the reform. The reform of the UN Security Council is not only a matter of justice and fairness, but also a necessity for ensuring the legitimacy, credibility, and effectiveness of the UN in addressing the global challenges of our time.

Source: Vanguard 

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