UN Security Council reforms long overdue

030402-N-5362A-004 Southern, Iraq (Apr. 2, 2003) -- U.S. Army Sgt. Mark Phiffer stands guard duty near a burning oil well in the Rumaylah Oil Fields in Southern Iraq. Coalition forces have successfully secured the southern oil fields for the economic future of the Iraqi people and are in the process of extinguishing the burning wells that were set ablaze in the early stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Operation Iraqi Freedom is the multi-national coalition effort to liberate the Iraqi people, eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and end the regime of Saddam Hussein. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Arlo K. Abrahamson. (RELEASED)

WHEN President Robert Mugabe delivered his speech at the just ended 26th session of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last week, he was time and again interrupted by applause and standing ovations.
Every African leader and spectator in the gallery seemed to relate to each and every subject President Mugabe touched on.
They were glued to his 50-minute speech, listening attentively.
Where laughter was ought, they gave it, the same applied to standing ovations and rounds of applause.
Important to note is one spectator from Eritrea who, unconscious of the silence in the gallery, screamed her heart out in admiration.
As expected those with ‘white faces and pink noses’ (whites) dismissed the reactions of African leaders and spectators as ‘being overwhelmed by mere emotions’.
But what made that woman from Eritrea scream her heart out were emotions arising from the issues President Mugabe touched on, a reality that pains every brother and sister in Africa.
Issues he tabled concern the injustices against Africa being perpetrated by the West.
President Mugabe was for the 15th time calling for the reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), reminding the world that 65 years after its founding the body remains mired in the legacy of the past.
Calls by Africa to reform the UNSC and grant the continent two permanent seats started in earnest in 2005.
Developed from its position known as the Harare Declaration, the African Union (AU) tabled its proposal (the Ezulwini Consensus) in July 2005.
The Ezulwini Consensus deals with various aspects related to reform of the UN; including but not restricted to reform of the UNSC.
It notes that African’s position is for 11 additional members on the UNSC, increasing its size to 26.
The proposal is that Africa should have two permanent seats and five non-permanent seats.
Those two seats would be permanent African seats that rotate between African countries chosen by the African group.
Africa demands two permanent seats on the basis of historical injustices and the fact that a large part of the Council’s agenda is concentrated on the continent.
At present only the five original permanent members China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States have veto rights.
The Council has not changed for decades, with 10 non-permanent members holding no veto and elected for two-year terms.
From 51 member-states in 1945 the UN has now grown to 192, yet the Council, the body intended to reflect the collective will whose resolutions are legally binding while those of the Assembly are not, had increased its membership only once, in 1965, from 11 to 15.
And talks to reform it have been under way for more than 17 years.
Africa, comprising more than a quarter of the UN troops and occupying 70 percent of the Council’s agenda, has no permanent seat on it.
Moreso, given the size of the group and its population— 54 countries and 1,1 billion people— the African position is important.
Due to its structural defects, the UNSC has never been capable of preventing the most destructive and deadly wars, many of which are purveyed by the very countries entrusted with the veto.
Consider, for example, the 1956 fury of Britain and France about Egypt’s Gamal Abdul Nasser nationalising the Suez Canal.
The canal had long been a profitable aspect of both countries’ imperialist foreign policies; and this was a reality that Nasser, so goes the logic of imperialism, had no right to challenge.
So, Britain and France hatched a tripartite alliance, and a hare-brained scheme with Israel, to reclaim the Canal.
Israel would invade the Sinai and push all the way to Suez; Britain and France, feigning neutrality, would send in forces ostensibly to police the conflict (for its help, Israel would be allowed to keep the Sinai) but in reality, to retake control of it.
In that spirit, Britain and France quickly vetoed a UNSC resolution that sought to resolve the Suez crisis in a manner inconsistent with their nefarious plans.
Examples like this abound.
To the permanent five, the Security Council has always been about safeguarding their geo-political interest especially in Africa and the Middle East.
Libya was plunged into chaos following the UN Security Council Resolution 1973 (2011) which established a “no fly zone” in the country to bomb Libyan government positions and force regime change.
Supported by Western intelligence agencies, most notably the CIA and M16, the al-Qaeda affiliated Libyan rebels-worked alongside NATO to overthrow the Libyan government, plunging the country into intolerable chaos which has persisted since 2011.
Before NATO’s intervention, Libya had the highest GDP per capita and life expectancy on the continent.
Fewer Libyans lived below the poverty datum line than in the Netherlands.
But the country has been turned into a failed state devoid of leadership, cohesion and structure.
During this turmoil America, Britain and France have been exploiting Libya’s oil.
And in 2008, had it not been for Russia and China that vetoed Britain’s resolution to impose economic sanctions and the use of force on Zimbabwe, the country would be in the same state as Libya.
The resolution on Zimbabwe came about after the country successfully redistributed its land from 4 000 whites to more than 400 000 black households.
It has never been about human rights justifications as they claim, on Zimbabwe’s motion, Britain wanted to keep a firm grip and control the country’s land and minerals.
In addition America has reliably blocked action by the UNSC whenever it would significantly contradict US foreign policy.
Most importantly, the US regularly vetoes resolutions critical of Israel’s ongoing occupation including its settlement project, which is both an indisputable violation of international law and contributes to the belligerent state of the Middle East.
Most recently, the US defied the Security Council once it became clear the latter would not support an invasion of Iraq.
The resulting invasion, which was a plain violation of international law, resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraq civilians and thousands of service men and women.
And all of the justifications for the war proffered by the Bush administration were eventually discredited (and most were transparently weak from the outset) and now it is all in black and white that America is only interested in Iraq’s oil.
And again the US was in a position to stifle justice following its Afghanistan’s intervention which the UNSC was powerless to stop.
It has been evident that if there are consequences for the American aggressions, they will have to come from elsewhere.
This entire context, present and historical, practically screams for UNSC reform.
It is both archaic and unjust that the criteria for influence in the UNSC continue to be a combination of history, military power and wealth, none of which inherently bespeaks an affinity for leadership or a commitment to international justice.


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