Feb 2012

International relations: Wish-list of ideas to strengthen global ties

International relations
Wish-list of ideas to strengthen global ties

South Africa has, as President of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), presented a wish-list of priorities that would give the African continent, particularly the African Union (AU), a voice in the global body. South Africa assumed the presidency of the UNSC, which rotates monthly among its member states alphabetically, for the month of January.

President Jacob Zuma presented South Africa’s ideas for giving Africa a stronger global voice during a sitting of the UNSC in New York in January where South Africa assumed presidency of the council. 

The Presidency of the UNSC offers an opportunity to promote a theme that is of particular regional or national importance. In this context, South Africa utilised its Presidency in January  to continue exploring concrete measures for strengthening the relationship between the United Nations (UN) and regional organisations, in particular the African Union (AU), to ensure international peace and security.  

President Zuma’s first proposal, a resolution that will further enhance the ties between the UN and sub-regional organisations, particularly the African Union, was unanimously adopted. 

Resolution 2033 urges the two bodies to work closely together in the areas of prevention and resolution of conflicts in Africa.

Peace and security

His second proposal was regarding the possibility of developing and defining modalities for cooperation and decision-making between the two institutions. 

This, he said, would assist in addressing the challenge of how the UNSC reacts to requests, suggestions and proposals by the AU Peace and Security Council.

“This will assist in ensuring uniformity, consistency and certainty when the two institutions are pursuing a common objective,” President Zuma told the UNSC.

Division of labour

Another proposal was for a clear division of labour - which would be crucial to the success of the strategic partnership between the two organisations. 

According to President Zuma, this has to take into account the different competencies, capacities and comparative advantages of the two bodies.

Avoiding conflicts

Finally, the issue of capacity building and sustainable resource allocations, he said, remained a fundamental challenge. This was something that the AU needed to discuss with the UN to explore solutions.

Using last year’s Libyan conflict as the base for his argument, President Zuma said building a stronger relationship between the two bodies was critical in avoiding conflicts. He said the AU’s plan was overlooked and instead, Nato forces bombed Libya.

“The consequences of actions that were carried out in Libya in the name of the UN Security Council have spilled over into other countries in the region. A problem which was confined to one country, Libya, has now grown to be a regional problem,” he said.

“The lesson we should draw from the Libyan experience is that greater political coherence and a common vision between the AU and the UN are critical in the resolution of African conflicts. The views of the African Union must be listened to if we are to strengthen our relationship and prevent further conflict,” said President Zuma.

Moving Africa forward

African countries are pushing for the reform of the UN, saying the continent’s concerns and voices were not being considered, despite the fact that about 70 percent of the UN agenda concerned Africa.

African countries believe they should be well represented in the UN and its regional bodies must also be given a chance because they were familiar with the issues and often understood the dynamics of the conflict.

President Zuma said all Africa needed was a chance as they had in the past decade sufficiently demonstrated the political will and commitment to rid the continent of all conflicts and wars. 

“We are working hard to move the continent forward to a sustainable path of socio-economic development and prosperity,” he added

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