In his keynote address, President Bio as Chair of the C-10, the committee of ten Heads of State and Government setup by the AU to advocate the African Common Position on UNSC reform, thanked the various participants for coming to the country, saying that he was excited to be hosting such an important event. He said the meeting was about respecting the right and dignity of African generations.
He noted that they were at the meeting, charged by a united purpose and shared agenda for a common goal. He said the meeting was important because he believed that the current geopolitical realities had placed Africa in a stronger position, than ever before, to present a common position for a comprehensive reform of the Security Council and to call for equitable representation in all organs in the UN.
“Africa is the only region without permanent representation in the permanent category in the Security Council. Africa is also under-represented in the Non-permanent category. We assert that Africa’s demand for two permanent seats with all the rights and prerogatives of current members, including the right of veto (although Africa is opposed in principle to the veto), and two additional Non-permanent seats is a matter of common justice.
“We proffer that Africa has a right to have an equal say in decision-making on issues that affect the African region. We affirm that such longstanding injustice and imbalance as reflected in the present configuration of the Security Council must be remedied without any further delay. Africa is committed to on-going reforms that will make the United Nations fit for purpose,” he said.
The President also added that as the Coordinator of the African Union Committee of Ten Heads of State and Government on the reform of the United Nations, he had articulated the grave concerns over the continuous inaction to adopt measures that would lead to Africa taking its rightful place in the Security Council. He maintained that the reform of the Security Council was long overdue and that the organisation was constituted on undemocratic and discriminatory principles.
He further argued that Africans constituted 1.2 billion of the world’s population of 7.5 billion and about 70% of the decisions made at the UN Security Council ultimately affect those 1.2 billion Africans, adding that those 1.2 billion people were also affected by over 70% of the UN’s resolutions. He said Africa was also contributing more than its fair share to promoting world peace and security.
“Africans fought valiantly and contributed to the victory that granted the Permanent Members the pride of place and entitlement in the UN Charter. It is fair to say that the over one million Africans who contributed through their gallantry and blood to the allied victory have been largely erased from the grand narrative of the war and from the spoils of victory.
“Even if it is argued that the Security Council comprises the five permanent members who were victors in the Second World War, then there is no moral and historical justification for Africa’s exclusion. Over a million Africans battled in the searing heat of the deserts of North Africa, over the perilous skies of Germany, through the jungles of North East India and Burma to the swamps and jungles of Malaya,” he recalled.
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr Alie Kabba, said he was pleased with Africa’s Permanent Representatives who had worked assiduously at the UN level. He said the meeting provided the opportunity for discussions, leading to a comprehensive report that would serve as a guide to African Heads of State in their quest for permanent representation on the UN Security Council.