To Reform the UN or Maintain the Status Quo?

Continued from last week

THERE is a “common” African position, all crying for permanent membership with veto powers like the other big five. But it would be disingenuous of me if I fail to say that the debate about expanding Security Council to include new permanent seats is being debated at the UN by all member states, so it’s not just Africa.

But what surprises me is that even academics, like Charles Mubita, have fallen for this. ‘Africa’s Demand for a Permanent Seat on the UN Security Council’. That’s the title of Dr Mubita’s book. Africa is demanding a permanent seat on the UNSC to enable it to effectively contribute to the peacekeeping and conflict resolutions of the UNSC, whose agenda is dominated by African issues. That is the gist of Mubita’s argument.

But how will a veto or two by an African country solve African problems? What happened to the much touted ‘African solutions to African problems’? Would an African veto have prevented the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 for example? What does this tell us about the African Union’s Peace and Security Council or SADC’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security as keepers of peace on the continent? Charity should start at home.

Quo vadis the UNSC reform agenda?

We all agree that the veto makes the Council “dysfunctional, unaccountable and undemocratic”.  The veto is a violation of foundational principles of the UN, namely the sovereign equality of states. Nowadays, the principles of sovereignty, equality and non-interference are openly disregarded by the Council and the organ is rife with unilateralism. The only way to achieve reform is to pursue consensus based solutions.

Yes, you can expand the UNSC, but without a veto in place. Because with or without a veto in place, the three super-powers – USA, Russia and China – can actually take unilateral decisions on their own. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and bombing of Syria, the US’s total destruction of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and involvement in the Yemen war, as well as China saying it would annex Taiwan – even by military force if necessary. Internationalism, multilateralism and the multilateral institutions are facing serious threats.

September is around the corner for the annual UN General Assembly indaba. I urge our President to sing a different song this time, not the veto one which will never reform this world body. Envoi: short of abolishing the veto we cannot talk of reform.

Alexactus T. Kaure is a freelance writer and social critic. He is the author of ‘Angola, From Socialism to Liberal Reforms’, published by SAPES Books, 1999.