AU defers decision on UN Security Council reform

Abuja- Nigeria (PANA) -- The African Union (AU) has mandated a committee to thoroughly assess the report requesting reforms of the UN system, contrary to speculations that suggested the current AU summit to be a battleground for countries jostling to fill the African slot on an expanded UN Security Council.
The decision to set up the 15-member ministerial committee by the AU executive council, comprising foreign ministers of member states, temporarily took the wind out of the sail of the countries that have publicly indicated interest in flying Africa's flag as a permanent member of an expanded Security Council.
Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa are the top contenders for what was, hitherto, expected to be a single African slot on the Security Council.
But the executive council, which met in the Nigerian capital ahead of the 30-31 January mid-term summit of the AU, also decided to push for two seats on the powerful UN organ, which is responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security.
Though Nigerian Information Minister, Chukwuemeka Chikelu had said the countries would use the Abuja summit to boost their campaign for the African seat, none of the three African giants made any public show of its plans.
"At the level of the executive council, no country came to say 'we are vying for any seat'," said AU Spokesman Desmond Orjiako.
He explained that the 15-member committee will be convened 20-22 February 2005, to be followed by an Extraordinary Session of the executive council which will adopt Africa's position.
That position, Orjiako explained, would then be presented to the UN Secretary-General for inclusion in his report to the UN General Assembly in March 2005.
Orjiako restated Africa's commitment to the UN reform, especially that of the Security Council where the continent is currently not represented on a permanent basis.
"We have indicated interest in the general reform and democratisation of the UN to get equal opportunities as Africans," he told PANA in Abuja.
"It is only fair that we are also part of the global community.
Nobody queries that as Africa has made tremendous contribution to world peace," the AU Spokesman said.
The establishment of the UN before most African countries got independence meant the continent was largely shut out of the most powerful organ of the global body.
Making an allusion to that, in a message sent to the Abuja summit, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said his country believes that Africa should be represented on a permanent basis in the UN Security Council.
"Japan considers it to be crucial to expand both the permanent and non-permanent categories in the Security Council, to include both developing and developed countries," Koizumi said.

31 january 2005 08:56:00

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