Africa's UN dreams threatened
13/09/2005 22:14 - (SA)
Johannesburg - A failure to find consensus on proposed reforms of the United Nations security council has snuffed Africa's hopes to see its voice being heard louder within the international organisation, said analysts on Tuesday.
SA Institute for International Affairs said: "The UN security council reform is over. There are a lot of losers, there is Africa."
Meant to be the centrepiece of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's ambitious plan to reform the world body, UN security council reforms became a victim of competing egos and the interests of rival nations.
Annan was hoping for results on the subject "by the end of the year", but admitted that if significant reform of the UN could not be achieved this year, one might have to wait several years.
Right to veto resolutions
After lengthy talks, Africa's final proposal made in Addis Ababa in August pushed for two permanent security council seats - with the right to veto resolutions - as well as five non-permanent council seats of which two should go to Africa.
This stance quashed any possible agreement with a proposal made by the so-called G4 nations (Brazil, Germany, India and Japan) who had called for boosting council membership to 25, with six new permanent non-veto-wielding seats.
Africa had been divided on the issue with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo saying at the opening of the Addis Ababa summit: "We need to negotiate with other groups, unless our objective is to prevent any decision."
But, a group of countries driven by Algeria had considered that the continent must stick to its first demand and would not be associated with the G4 initiative.
Division of the continent
John Daniel of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) said the discord within Africa highlighted the limitations of an "African position".
Daniel said: "It highlights the fact that there are more things that divide the continent that unify it."
Many observers believed that by choosing to insist on having the right to veto, Africa had failed a test against pragmatism and squandered an opportunity.
Adekeye Adebajo of the Cape Town-based Centre for Conflict Resolution said: "It was not a tactically sound game that the Africans pursued.
"They have shot themselves in the foot."
The disagreement in Africa's strategy had shown up national ambitions and rival personalities, which had weighed on the debates.
Regional powerhouses: Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa were seen as the favourites for potential permanent seats, while Kenya, Angola, Libya and Senegal also made a claim.
Despite a failure in results, certain countries on the continent believed that the whole process allowed Africa to clearly show its demands to the world.
Uganda's foreign permanent secretary Julius Onen said: "Our fight is more of a moral demand because Africa is marginalised, yet it is most affected by conflicts and other disasters."