African Voice Need to Be Heard
By Bereket Sisay
Africa has long been remaining on the receiver end of UN conglomerate as part of peace and aid support, while the continent bereft of its genuine representation in the organization. Especially in the UN Security Council, Africa so far, irrespective of its fair share and the role it plays, has not received any meaningful representation, rather sidelined and disfranchised. Africa failed to have a permanent seat in UNSC, bizarre in its nature, made the continent to disengage and to hold of unstiffen stance on the council’s agenda, where most of the issues are concerning Africa. Conversely, in lieu of Africa, other member countries of the council, especially the P5, which are alien with the subject, have been on the throne to decide over. True to this statement, in 2018, over 50% of UNSC meetings, 60% of its outcome documents, and 70% of its resolutions with Chapter VII mandates concerned African peace and security issues. In line with this, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said that, because almost 70 percent of the agenda of the Security Council is devoted to issues of peace and security in Africa, the continent should have a permanent presence on the Council. Cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union is a prerequisite in the implementation of their mandates to promote and uphold international peace and security.
Africa dislodges on the continent’s peace and security decision making process, fashioned numerous conflicts and violence to be protracted and promulgated. This vacuum has provided the opportunity for many super powers to involve in a proxy war and this engagement, by far and large turns the continent into a hot spot of insecurity peril. As a result of this shocking reality, many lives in Africa domed to be miserable and, at large, the already deprived lives of many Africa citizens remain in murky situation, as the vicious circle of conflict grips on the continent. The harrowing experience of this continent can also be somehow linked to Africa’s insignificant role in the metaphysical supervisory status at the council. This is because of most of the solutions suggested by the other end of the corner (westerner) kept on failing in bringing a lasting solution for Africa’s enduring problems. No need to mention that, a “one-size-fits-all approach” has repeatedly and continually destined to fail as most of Africa’s states are living witnesses for this western myth. By far and large, as Africa marginalized in a paly court of its security agenda, African solution for African problem principle, by itself will be derailed of achieving its goal. This invariably pushes the content on the edge of incapacitation that mounts to hinder development and social justice, the continent aspires for.
Though African states have their own intramural political and economic defies that put this bizarre enterprise on set, still lack of political will on the part of western regimes is a big clog. Critics claimed that, African doesn’t accommodate the necessary political capacity to address the world security dynamism while the continent itself marred with such sorts of difficulties. And, therefore, it’s those who are cleansed of such wickedness, presumably the super power, which are authorized to deal with the issue. Yet, such assumption at the onset is wrong and has resulted of inappropriateness in measuring and addressing the root causes of the problem in the continent. As a result of this and despite efforts by various stakeholders, Africa is still engulfed by various sorts of armed conflicts. Due to this, African Union and other partners ought to focus on the main crisis spots currently: The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Libya, where tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions more displaced.
Redefining Africa’s focus
It’s not a new phenomenon when Africa Union and the United Nation working closely on issues that matter most for the continent, especially on Peace and Security. Peculiarly, the 2017 United Nations-African Union Joint Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security further boosted cooperation on the promotion of Africa’s ownership and leadership of peace processes on the continent. In addition, the annual consultative meetings between the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council have been important to strengthening Council to Council engagement. Yet, all of this legal instruments and practical engagement has not brought the needed solutions to sustain the tranquility of the continent that would otherwise achieve through legitimate Africa’s ownership of the peace process through having a permanent seat at the UNSC.
In light of this fact, it’s been a long time since African statesman and leaders voiced a legitimate presence at the council yet, Africa has not succeeded. On the other hand, it’s obvious that having a permanent seat at the council could mean a lot and bear a potential of changing the very course of the security situation in the continent. And, therefore, considering both these preceding failed attempts and the significance of having a permanent seat is vital to redirect the next path of the struggle. In line with this, the diplomatic efforts that have been carried out by different actors should be strengthen and broaden. It should move to the extent of encompassing actors outside of the continent including states to be part of the struggle. Previously, China and now Turkey come out and boldly backing the cause and it is incumbent on African’s politicians to capitalize such gain and stretch the horizon into a larger reach.
For this to happen, AU needs to carve out a strategy that gear toward guiding the whole process of these diplomatic efforts. Particularly, the AU should be at the forefront of lobbying to garner the support of as many states as possible. Partly, the A3 in the council should always voice and serve as an outlet for Africa’s long overdue question, a permanent seat. AU is also expected to institute a special group of expertise (Think Tank) to support and advised the AU led efforts. In this regard, Africans in the diaspora have the great responsibility in pushing forward the cause to gain the required attention. Individual expertise on the issue, need to be called out to contribute their own fair share to galvanize the struggle. This invariably helps the issue to be more laud and become an international agenda. And, all this combined efforts, will invariably lead the diplomatic process, down the line, to bear fruit.
The Ethiopian Factor
Ethiopia has long been an epitome and well hyped state in pushing forward an Africa (pan African) agenda that matter for every citizen of the continent and black community across the diaspora. Way back in 1960s, Ethiopia has played prominent role stirring the anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism movements to be deeply rooted and permeated across the continent that put an end to colonization that had set on the continent for centuries. Ethiopia was also at the forefront and played a paramount role in instituting the then OAU, which is now rechristen to Africa Union that oriented for a political and economic union based on mutual respect and benefit. Therefore, it’s up to Africa’s contemporary leaders and Ethiopian officials to capitalize the much touted Ethiopia’s vast diplomatic experience that enmeshed with pan African textures in the struggle to gain permanent seat at UNSC.
Ethiopia, as it has always been the case, has now boldly expressed its willingness to be part of this contemporary continent-wide campaign. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed conveyed a message of solidarity with other African leaders, who bear the responsibility to achieve African fair share at the council. In his tweet, PM Abiy Ahmed, said that; “I join other African leaders in reiterating that a continent of around 1.3 billion people needs a permanent voice and seat at the UNSC represented through a bloc. Issues and decisions that concern the continent cannot continue being addressed without continental representation”. This has obviously assured Ethiopian unshakable stance and unwavering support for the issue of Africa that stood the test of time. It also remains the same as the change of governments transpires in the country throughout a time.
And therefore, Ethiopia should be at the helm of gearing this round of struggle toward a critical point to respond to the long belated question of Africa. Ethiopia, as it did in the past, should now be align with African states of same feathers, to bring up those failing states on the issue to the front. This may be another round of opportunity that enable Ethiopia to contribute to the great cause of Africa while continuing its legacy of bearer of pan Africanist agenda. In addition, Ethiopia, at large, should join any attempts to create sense of consciousness on the necessity of an African and Pan-African identity which sought to develop Africa solutions to various looming challenges in the continent. This can go hand in hand with the principle of African solution to African problem while bifurcating across different strategic lines.
The Way Forward
UN doesn’t have any choice but make a credible reform that can fully address the concern of Africa, for once and for all. For years, UN has been vocal about a wide range of institutional reform it embarked upon, yet none of these measures touches on the council’s basic structural problem. Surprisingly, there have been so many promises by various top UN officials including current UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, to find a way for African quest for a permanent seat at the council, yet the question remains unsettled. There is nothing we can say, but a sheer lack of political will on the part of western power that can be drawn as the basic reason for these failures. A former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan once said, “No reform of the United Nations will be complete without reform of the Security Council. And, indeed, so long as the Council remains unreformed, the whole process of transforming governance in other parts of the system is handicapped by the perception of an inequitable distribution of power.”