Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Friday, January 28, 2005

Nigerians pull no punches for UN seat
Nigeria has opened a war of words with the other two contenders for an African UN seat, with top Nigerian civil servant, Davo Oluyemi-Kusa, saying that "South Africa and Egypt are not black enough to represent Africa in the United Nations security council."

With the UN review panel indicating that Africa will most likely be allocated a seat, Nigeria is falling behind Egypt and South Africa in the race. Nigeria's corruption and poor governance will be a thorn in their side, and their recent decreasing of their African diplomatic role will further degrade their chances. It's also important to note that Nigeria ranks sixth, behind South Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Libya and Morocco in budgetary assessment of the UN. Hence, Nigeria needs to change the rules of engagement to stand a reasonable chance. However, one wonders how much help this type of attack will give them. Immediately moving to a racial front is never the best way to get into the UN's good books.

As I've stated before, in a straight foot race between South Africa and Egypt, we would most likely be the natural selection, given the economic strength, Mbeki's strong diplomatic efforts throughout the continent, and the simple fact that the UN needs a point-man in Sub-Saharan Africa to a much larger degree than North Africa.

The UN's security council review panel put forward two alternative reform proposals which it named Model A & B:
"Model A and B both involve a distribution of seats respectively as, "Africa"; "Asia and Pacific", "Europe", and "America". Model A provides for six new permanent seats, with no veto being created, and three new two-year term non-permanent seats, divided among the major regional areas as per the diagram shown above:

Model B provides for no new permanent seats but creates a new category of eight four-year renewable term seats and one new two-year non-permanent (and non-renewable) seat, divided among the major regional areas as follows:

n both models, having regard to Article 23 of the Charter of the United Nations, the panel avers that a method of encouraging Member States to contribute more to international peace and security would be for the General Assembly, taking into account established practices of regional consultations, to elect Security Council members by giving preference for permanent or long-term seats to those states that are among the top three financial contributors in their relevant regional area to the regular budget, or the top three voluntary contributors from their regional area, or the top three troop contributors from their regional area to the United Nations peacekeeping missions."

The second model also offers significant hope to South Africa. We are the UN's major contributor on the African continent, have a very high diplomatic profile, were central in the creation of the AU and participate fully in peace-keeping troop allocation around the continent.

Any decision will no doubt face pressure from the current permanent seat-holders, and one would think that their obvious choice would be the B model. However, change is requisite for the UN, and I do hope that any revisions leave South Africa with a strong hand.