Uganda: UN must reform to save Africa from ‘injustice’

Uganda’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Henry Okello Oryem. PHOTO/COURTESY 

What you need to know:

  • Africa’s bid to change the membership of the UNSC had failed before. But there are now more growing calls from other powerful countries across the world that feel they deserve to be on the Council with more powers.

Uganda on Wednesday opened a gathering of a committee of African foreign ministers on United Nations reforms with a rallying call to push for changes at the global body as a means to save the continent from “injustice.”

Mr Henry Okello Oryem, Uganda’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs told an audience the continent will suffer as a whole as long as the UN refuses to change and include Africa’s concerns in its structure.

He spoke at Uganda’s Commonwealth Speke Resort in Munyonyo, Kampala where he opened the 9th Ministerial-level meeting of Heads of State and Government to discuss the perennial calls for reforms at the UN, and especially its powerful organ the UN Security Council.

“Time and again, Africa has reiterated that the relevance, legitimacy and moral authority of the United Nations will ever remain undermined without a comprehensive reform of the UN Security Council,” he said. 

“I wish to reiterate that Uganda’s support and commitment to reform as espoused in the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration is unwavering, as it is the only viable option to redress the historical injustice done to the African Continent.”

Pursue reforms

Ezulwini Consensus, named after the famous valley in eSwatini, is where African Union members declared a joint call to pursue reforms at the Council, including having at least one permanent member from the continent.

In Kampala, the Ugandan Minister told the audience the UN will lack effectiveness, lack adequate representation and weaken its democracy as long as some parts of the world continue to be dictated by others in the Council.

The Ministers gathering in Kampala come from ten countries, designated by the African Union as C-10, or the Committee of 10. They are from Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Congo-Brazzaville, Libya and Namibia.

These countries, collectively under the chairmanship of Sierra Leone, have been collecting views from member states and other stakeholders around the world since 2015 in a bid to influence changes within the Council.

Politics

But they have been mostly victims of the UN’s own politics. The UN Security Council is the body within the UN that is charged with maintaining international peace and security, as well as admitting new members to the UN and approving amendments to the UN Charter, the formative law for the United Nations.

It has 15 members, but only five of them are permanent and hold veto powers. They include Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and the USA.

The African continent, despite being the recipient of most declarations on peace and security from the Council only has non-permanent members, who cannot influence substantial decisions. Kenya, Ghana and Gabon are current non-permanent members.

The C-10 is supposed to create and sustain the Africa Common Position, a decision reached by the African Union Assembly in 2005.

Africa’s bid to change the membership of the UNSC had failed before. But there are now more growing calls from other powerful countries across the world that feel they deserve to be on the Council with more powers.

These include India, Japan, Brazil and Germany; all who either rose from war wreckage, poverty or advanced in technology to influence global trends. 

*Written by Aggrey Mutambo 

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