BY FITSUM GETACHEW
The United Nations Organization, the UN, is a body that was formed in the wake of the end of World War II when it was found out that the world needed to avert any kind of future devastating wars after what had happened in the five-year conflict. The world had witnessed another devastation and tremendous loss of life in the four-year conflict of the First World War.
The World War I was one when millions lost their lives in prolonged and extensive battles in multiple war fronts using trenches and other outmoded ways of combat. The World War II was instead more modern and more sophisticated and new means of warfare were used including fighting jets and devastating bombs. All this resulted in not only extensive loss of lives but also devastating damages of cities that were mercilessly bombed using jets!
The US was one of the major powerful forces that joined the war in the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. Eventually the war lasted five years and involved practically the entire world because few countries managed to avoid involvement. Ethiopia was one of those countries where conflict began even before the official outbreak of World War II; but the fact that Italy joined the German forces in the war involved Ethiopia in the World War.
Hence, many state Ethiopia as well was among the warring parties in the conflict confronting the Italian invaders. Other African troops as well were in the fight siding with their colonial masters. Thousands perished in the battles. There were active battle grounds in the Mediterranean area with the Nazi-fascists on the one side and the forces of the Allied Forces on the other.
Eventually, the Nazi-Fascist Axis was defeated. To bring to a complete and unconditional surrender of the Japanese forces the Alliance had to drop two hydrogen bombs newly fabricated in the US at the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Only then was there a total and immediate surrender of the Japanese and the end of the battle in the Asian Front was declared.
Subsequently, the winners then sat down together and began to think of the formation of the United Nations Organisation but remembering that the League of Nations was not very successful and even led to World War II they conceived this body as a better one capable of averting all future wars. They vowed that from now on there would not be wars anymore and that World War II would be the last war fought on earth and that it was ‘the war to end all wars’. While preparing the Charter of the UN they devised a system in which five supreme leaders called the Security Council of the UN would act as a sort of maximum executive body that would discuss and decide on urgent and dangerous developments on the planet with the specific objective of averting threats of armed confrontation or conflict.
Each of the five members was entitled with what was called a ‘veto power’ that would paralyze any move that was not accepted by all unanimously. They agreed that big decisions on international security would be taken only if all five agreed with one voice. If any one of the five did not agree, the decision would be suspended or cancelled.
Since the foundation of the UN this system continued to decide the fate of the world. The US, Russia, China, the UK and France as members of the UNSC have continued to pass all the major international decisions that have affected the entire human community. But this system has also been criticized as having paralyzed the body from acting effectively due to political differences. Only on certain occasions did all five agreed to take measures pertaining to threats of war.
It is now almost eight decades since the end of World War II and the formation of the UN. In all these years there have been many fundamental changes in the world that the body did not envisage. In fact, the world has transformed beyond recognition. There has been tremendous scientific and technological advancement in the world. Moreover, there has been tremendous growth of many countries. So many new countries have joined the international community of states with the decolonization of the world. New sovereign states have come to the fore while the population of the world has also grown by leaps and bounds.
Furthermore, today the world has become a huge village with globalization and all the networks and communications means that have developed and grown along the years. All these were not even conceived in those years when the UN was first projected. In fact, anyone who had died in 1945 would not recognize this new reality if they were to come back to life and see the new world! In short, the world has changed beyond recognition. But the body that was founded based on the reality in 1945 is still trying to run the world in 2022 with the same provisions! In 1945 only a few African countries existed independently but now there are fifty five sovereign nations. Clearly, many observers assert this cannot be acceptable as the situation is completely different when compared to the one eighty years ago!
Now there is a clear admission and recognition of this visible fact but there appears to persist the obstinacy of the ‘big powers’ who probably do not want to lose their ‘privileges of running the world’ the way they like it or the way it is convenient for their long term strategic interests. Above all, when we look at how the world is divided among continents, we find out that practically all continents are more or less represented at the UNSC except Africa! And yet Africa is home to 1.3 billion people with a good part of the entire wealth of the planet! Not having any kind of representation at the UNSC seems to be not only bizarre but also dangerous because it does not reflect fairly the reality on the ground. In a way, it may diminish the legitimacy and credibility of the UN and would be severely handicapped to take equitable and fair decisions on affairs that affect the day to day lives of a large part of humanity and be adopted without reservation.
The economic map of the world in 1945 is completely different from the one now reigning. There are now huge nations economically relevant and meaningful for the world such as India (not independent in 1945), Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa not to speak of Japan and Germany which as parts of the losing side were virtually sidelined when the body was founded.
Above all, the entire African continent with more than a billion people is not represented at the UNSC at all and the unfairness would come out glaringly when we observe that countries such as the UK and France enjoy the status of being members of the Security Council thanks to the historical background that led to the foundation of the UN. Should they continue to enjoy the same status in 2022 after all the changes that took place while Africa as a continent does not have even a single seat? This is now the controversial issue that needs thorough discussion that would lead to some sort of serious revision of how the UN major agencies are structured and function.
That is why there are increasing voices that argue that the representation at the UNSC must be seriously reconsidered and be open for reform. In fact these voices have been replicated even by non-African countries who have sensed the unfairness of the system. Definitely Africa and the black people in general deserve to be adequately and fairly represented at the UN Security Council. Many of the decisions adopted at the UN have not always taken the opinion of Africans and they have not been fair. For instance, we have seen that glaringly in the recent conflict in Northern Ethiopia. We have noted that there were increasingly loud voices which tried to use the UN to intervene in the internal affairs of Ethiopia violating its territorial sovereignty under the guise of humanitarian issues.
If non-interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country is absolutely out of question as one of the basic pillars of the equality of all nations in the world at the UN, we do not understand how and why there were repeated appeals to convene the UN SC and try to accuse Ethiopia of whatever they considered was illegal and wanted to intervene in some way. It was only thanks to the persistent objection of countries such as Russia and China that Ethiopia managed to avoid the total condemnation of the UNSC. The Ethiopian government continued to assert that it is in its sovereign rights to deal with its internal problems without the interference of any outside power including the UN. But this was not palatable to certain western countries that repeatedly suggested that the UN intervene in Ethiopia and clearly in favor of what they call the rebels, but Ethiopia has already labeled ‘terrorist’ and ‘enemy’ of the people! Ethiopia has continued to maintain that certain suggestions in this sense were totally uncalled for and irreverent of Ethiopia’s sovereignty.
It was clear here that the TPLF led government before it was deposed was a close friend of the west as it pursued their strategic interests at times even disregarding the national interests of Ethiopia. If there was a strong voice for Africa at the UNSC, things would probably take a different course. Pressure by Africans would influence the stance of certain western countries to be more reasonable and moderate.
The point of view of Ethiopia may have been more seriously and deeply considered given that the Ethiopian government is a legitimately elected government by the people while TPLF is now completely discredited and resulted to be an enemy of its own people openly declaring war with the declared intention of dismembering it! In fact, it has repeatedly stated clearly its intentions and plans and the UN has preferred to close its eyes in front of all these developments! Many observers have noted that the UN has resulted once again to be the ‘protector of the western powers’ interests’. That is why the UN is now on the verge of losing its credibility among Africans and there are more and more voices who advocate for deep reform in how it operates. Most agencies of the UN system need urgent revision particularly the way the Security Council is composed and operates.
Although this movement to modify and reform the UN has been going on for many years, never has it become more urgent and imperative than now after we have seen what has happened to one of its respected founding members: Ethiopia. And that is why this development has ignited the movement called #No More joined by the entire African continent and the black world as a whole. With the AU heads of state summit imminent in Addis, it would be a wonderful occasion to raise this issue and may be add more voice to the call for more representation of African voices at the United Nations Security Council.
The January 20/2022