President Jacob Zuma challenged world leaders in New York recently, saying that global development and security were "two sides of the same coin" as he called for action to reform the United Nations Security Council.
President Jacob Zuma has accused the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) of being undemocratic, unrepresentative and unfair towards developing nations and small states.
Addressing the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly held recently under the theme ”Setting the stage for the post-2015 agenda”, President Zuma urged role players to level the playing field for Africa to set a new global development agenda for the years following the end of the current cycle in 2015. There had been too much talk about reforming the council - a key UN organ charged with the maintenance of international peace and security - with no action, President Zuma said. Africa, along with the rest of the developing world, could not "remain beholden indefinitely to the will of an unrepresentative minority on most important issues of international peace and security.
"We would like to challenge the Assembly today: let us set ourselves the target to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the United Nations in 2015 with a reformed, more inclusive, democratic and representative UN Security Council." At the same time, Zuma criticised developed countries for their tendency, following the global economic meltdown prompted by the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, to "renegotiate the rules of the game".
The President warned that new international demands were impeding Africa’s development. “New issues are being introduced as pre- requisites for development and partnerships, which in fact become huge non-tariff barriers.
These include the green economy and clean technology.”
While these issues were important for Africa and developing countries and needed to be attended to, the President said the manner in which they were crafted restrained economic development.
With the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals looming, President Zuma said the full implementation of the goals - which look at poverty alleviation, education, gender equality, child and maternal health, environmental stability and HIV/Aids reduction, among others - remained critical.
For Africa, in particular, the future development agenda should address poverty eradication, income inequality and job creation, Zuma told the national assembly.
He added that the new development agenda would only be effective if it focused on all three dimensions of sustainable development, which are the eradication of poverty through economic development, social development and environmental sustainability.
While recognising the fiscal challenges facing developed nations, President Zuma also urged richer countries not to lose sight of the ripple effects that cut development aid to poorer nations.
“The tendency to attempt to delegate some of these historical responsibilities to new emerging economies in the South is unacceptable and unworkable, as such emerging nations have their own historical challenges and backlogs to deal with. Furthermore, any commitment we make to the future beyond 2015 must build on existing agreements.”
Call for Security Council reform
As President Zuma and many other leaders of developing countries have done in the past, the President used his address to call for the reform of the Security Council by 2015, so that the 15-member body can democratically represent the world’s nations at large.
He also reiterated South Africa’s position regarding Syria, saying the political transition in that country must come about as a result of the will of the Syrian people, and not as a result of a force of arms.
President Zuma also touched on the struggles of the people of Palestine and Western Sahara as well as the Cuban people.