Can Neo Pan-Africanism serve a step towards Security Council Seat?


African leaders have been calling for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for many years. A number of leaders across the continent told the organization that the exclusion of Africa from the permanent membership “can no longer be justified.” Despite the Security Council being the primary actor regarding international peace and security; however to its absurdity issues and decisions that concern the continent have been addressed without proper African representation. Critics say, 76 years after its birth the UN is mired in the legacy of the past while it became ever more active in the matters of the continent.

As victorious allies in World War II only the five permanent members – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States – have veto rights, although historically the complete and unconditional acceptance of the permanent membership and the veto power was forced into the organization regardless of numerous countries protested against the privilege of the five permanent members of the Council from the start.

This is also considered as a traditional stumbling block which enables any one of the veto power to block any resolution that is not merely procedural in nature. As a result, the veto is criticized fundamentally unjust by a majority of States and is thought to be the main reason why the Security Council failed to respond adequately to unspeakable humanitarian crises such as the Rwanda genocide in 1994.

Looking at the Africa’s numerical significance alone the call for Security Council permanent seat holds water as the continent is home for about 1.3 billion people whereas in 2021, nearly 70 percent Chapter VII mandate resolutions of the UN Charter, that determines the existence of a threat or a breach to the peace, or an act of aggression among others, were on Africa.

Meanwhile, fault lines within the Security Council are growing over time. During the Council’s latest deliberations on the war in Ethiopia and the issue of Nile River relating to Egypt and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), for instance, provided sufficient proof how permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council were divided on the issue even sometimes deviating from the mandate of the Council itself. This discourse seems to move China and Russia a bit closer to Addis Ababa, seat of the African Union (AU) Commission, as they often demonstrated their position that such issues should be dealt with in the African framework.

This circumstances and the European Union and United State’s “unfair involvement” in the agendas is revitalizing an African bid for a permanent seat in the Security Council for a collective action. Hence, united African voice calls and other rising popular social media campaigns such as “NoMore” are pushing to strike a paradigm-shift for the continent through adoption of a unifying cause of Neo Pan-Africanism movement. Given the manifold challenges the continent is facing, the Neo Pan-Africanism approach of supranational African unity is not an easy task regardless of its potential to force issues and decisions in the Security Council that concern the continent should be addressed with proper African representation.

The African homework

The United Nations is urged to strengthen its partnership with the AU to resolving peace and security challenges in the continent. One way to bridge the gap between these two organizations is AU electing three African non-permanent members of the Security Council, as known as A3 bloc, for a two year term upon endorsement by the AU Assembly. However, since the A3 are not legally bound to support AU position they do not serve on the Security Council on behalf of the AU, but as individual members. They even have differed strongly over issues, yet the bloc is attributed to have played an important role in shaping Security Council debates and guiding collective action in recent times.

Assuming A3’s delicate stature in the Security Council the continent requires indisputable collective action to encode its issues through the UN system. In the face of African unity narrative which was instrumental in achieving major gains made in the past critics doubt AU’s capability to spearhead such movement’s as they see the continental unity organization as a “toothless Lion” while others slam the body to be “in deep sleep” amid rising peace and security threats and evident western power’s role in internal affairs of member states. This suggests the AU’s demanding task in putting effort so as to increase greater synergy while member states would have to fully comply with the continental cause than rushing to seek advice from “neocolonial” masters.

Therefore, to increase their bargaining power African states should critically look  into themselves to be able to cast tangible structural and institutional evidence that can turn away western influence, either through the Security Council or other strong multilateral establishments. It is also worth noting that the ongoing effort to reform AU needs to be checked if it will ever bear fruit. On the other side as post-colonial African leaders are trapped in a vicious-cycle of fragility, their collective attempt to leverage a united voice within the structure and practice of the Security Council have to strike a balance between the needs of the people they govern and demands of “western democracy”.

The question is the facility of Neo Pan-Africanism, to heal and end the wounds of communal conflicts ushered by ardent ethno-political systems in the continent by through implementation of a fully committed continental cause, which can later help deliver a federation or confederation towards a United States of Africa.

In conclusion, a permanent seat at UN Security Council may not be an end to empower Africa. Perhaps peace does not necessarily be insured by a UN model. For that somehow a promising trend is in the making under a notion of “African solution for African challenges” amid the recurring problems of development and security in the continent and growing geopolitical dynamics as well as the challenges of globalization.

 Editor’s Note: The views entertained in this article do not necessarily reflect the stance of The

The January 8/2022

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