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ON NIGERIA’S QUEST FOR A PERMANENT UN COUNCIL SEAT

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“The structure of world peace cannot not be the work of one man or one party or one nation. It must be a peace which rests on the collaborative efforts of the whole world”—Franklin Delano Roosevelt

It is now more than two decades since the yearning for a reformed United Nations Security Council began! It must be recalled that, upon its ratification by two-third members of the Security Council in 1965, the figure of the non-permanent Council Seats increased from 6 to 10, bringing the total number of the council seats to 15, with the inclusion of the existing 5 permanent council members. These 5 members with veto power or veto rights on charter changes are; United States of America (USA), Great Britain, France, Russia and China. Before any member nation becomes a permanent member of the council, majority of the above members must be on the same page, but, is that currently in view?

However, in 1992, by the reason of being the second and the third largest contributors to the United Nations, Japan and Germany began to demand for a permanent UN Council Seat! Subsequently, the world's fifth largest country in terms of land mass, Brazil and India, the world's second most populous country after China joined Japan and Germany in demanding for a permanent UN Council Seat. The four countries were later known as the G-4. It is also worthy of note that, while Japan and Germany were banking on their economic strengths, Brazil and India were capitalizing on the fact that, they are the most powerful countries and key players within their sub-regions. Res Ipsa Liquitur, Nigeria's case has been established!

Similarly, the “African Group” also joined the quest for a UN permanent Security Council Seat, by demanding for two rotational seats for themselves. This group hinged their demands on historical injustices and the fact that Africa is at the receiving end of most of the council's agenda! They argued that, the two seats should be permanent African Seats which must be rotating among the countries of the continent. Since the P-5 who holds the major power is divided in their choices, the structure of the UN Security Council as envisaged and constituted in 1945 has not yet changed! Hence, while the United States supported the idea of a permanent Council seat for Japan and India with litle addition of some state actors in to the non-permanent council seats, Great Britain and France supported the position of the G-4, with the expansion of both the permanent and the non-permanent council seats. Also, while China supported the idea for a strong representation of the developing countries, Russia endorsed the admission of the emerging powers in to the council. But, till date, nothing has changed.

On March 21 2005, the former United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan called on the UN member states to reach a consensus on the need to increase the membership of the council to 24. He said: “This important issue has been discussed for too long. I believe member states should agree to take a decision on it—preferably by consensus”. He advocated for the creation of 6 new permanent seats plus 3 new non-permanent seats to be totaled 24 when the existing 5 permanent and 10 non-permanent seats are included. The other suggestion he made was the creation of 8 new seats in a new class of members who would serve for 4 years subject to renewal and 1 non-permanent seat to be totaled 24 when the already existing 15members are included. But, no clear-cut decision was taken before he left office in December 2006.

Nonetheless, judging by all standards, Nigeria merits a permanent council seat at the United Nations Security Council! A part from the fact that Nigeria is the world's most populous black nation, the country is also the fourth largest contributor of troops to international peace keeping operations. Like what the former US Secretary of States Colin Powell said during the reign of George W. Bush, “If you break it, you own it” meaning if you take out a regime, you own the government, Nigeria through the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) chiefly broke it and owned the attendant responsibilities in Liberia, Sierra Leone etc.

Furthermore, before the unanimous resolution of the United Nations Security Council of April 25th, 2013, where an approval was given for the deployment of 12, 600 strong peace keeping force to Mali by July 1st this year under “MINUSMA”, Nigeria had already contributed 724 troops, comprising 300 Nigerian Air force Personnel and 424 Nigerian Army Personnel with heavy weapons, ammunitions, vehicles and equipments like one MI35 and two Alpha Jets which one has just crashed to Mali under the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA). Nigeria also has about 260 troops in Somalia under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Nigeria is also the second largest economy in Africa with the target of achieving double digit growths in no distance time. Its population growth rate remains 3.2 percent annually.

Since Nigeria has the money, men, materials, machines and the mechanics of promoting peace and security in Africa and by extension the world which is the core mandate of the UN Security Council, we will do more if a permanent UN Council Seat is given to us, “ceteris paribus”--all other things being equal!

Comrade Edwin Ekene Uhara is an activist and public affairs commentator. He is also the National President of Young Nigerians for Change.

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Articles by Edwin Uhara