(The Daily Nation) African Union to push for Africa’s voice in UN

The African Union General Assembly in session. Photo Credit: The Herald (Zimbabwe)

The African Union General Assembly in session.
Photo Credit: The Herald (Zimbabwe)

By Aggrey Mutambo

African Union chairman President Mugabe has been strident in his consistent call for the reform of the UN, arguing that Africa, and also Asia, needed to be heard and that their voices be heard. He has never been a fan of the status quo dominated by former colonialists and western hegemons, a situation that extends even to global financial architecture. 

Correspondents

THE African Union is to revive its push to reform the most powerful arm of the United Nations when leaders converge in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this week.

Despite resistance from five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Heads of State and governments of an AU committee have recommended that member-states discuss the issue again.

The 26th Ordinary Session of the AU General Assembly for heads of state and government will be held on January 30 and 31.

Its theme in 2016: African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on the Rights of Women.

Last week, the Committee of 10, a group of countries, was formed to lobby for UN reforms and resolved to put the issue as the first item on the agenda.

Other members are Algeria, Libya, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Zambia, Uganda, Equatorial Guinea and Congo.

Heads will arrive in Addis at the tail-end of the summit, endorsing or rejecting decisions reached by their foreign ministers.

AFRICA’S LACK OF INFLUENCE

The Security Council is charged with maintaining global peace.

It also admits members to the UN and can approve changes to the agency’s charter.

It has 15 members, but only five are permanent and hold veto powers. They are Russia, China, France, the UK and the USA.

Despite being the recipient of most declarations on peace and security, Africa can have only non-permanent members who do not influence major decisions.

On Tuesday, Foreign Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said the push for reforms would go on.

“The Security Council does not reflect 21st century political and economic realities. This underrepresentation is discriminatory, unfair and unjust. The C-10 agreed to sustain push for reforms as per the Ezulwini Consensus and Sirte Declaration,” she said.

Kenya, alongside Equatorial Guinea were the main lobbyists for the “Africa Common Position” in 2005.

Despite meeting with permanent members of the Security Council last year, there was no substantial commitment to change anything.

AU wants at least two African countries have permanent slots in the Security Council. The C-10 proposed that the AU assembly resolves also to push for removal of veto powers if no African nation is included in the permanent category.

“The AU heads of state will decide on the timeframe and reaction to be addressed on UNSC. The C-10 will present its report to the heads of state summit,” Ms Mohamed explained.

Africa accuses the permanent members of being undemocratic and using the security council to safeguard their interests. In 2012 and 2013, Kenya was bitter when its attempts to have cases facing

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto at the ICC were deferred, after the US and the UK abstained from the vote.

The first hurdle is the five permanent members but to exact changes to the council requires more than political lobbying. Other countries like Germany, India, Brazil and Japan also feel they should be in the security council.

In fact, the UN itself formed a task force at the turn of the century to collect views on reforms. The team proposed an increase in membership of the security council from 15 to 25.

The suggestion was blocked by the current members who feared their power to veto would be diluted.

The article can be found on AllAfrica.com. 

(UN News) Half the population of Central African Republic faces hunger, UN warns

Two and a half million people in the Central African Republic (CAR) are facing hunger. Photo: WFP/Bruno Djoye

20 January 2016 – An emergency food security assessment by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners has revealed that half the population of the Central African Republic (CAR) – nearly 2.5 million people – faces hunger.

This marks a doubling in the number of hungry people in a one-year period, as conflict and insecurity have led to limited access to and availability of food.

“Three years of crisis have taken a huge toll on the people of CAR,” said Guy Adoua, WFP Deputy Country Director in the country, in a press release.

“Families have been forced so often to sell what they own, pull their kids out of school, even resort to begging, that they have reached the end of their rope. This is not the usual run-of-the-mill emergency. People are left with nothing,” he added.

According to the assessment, one in six women, men and children struggles with severe or extreme food insecurity, while more than one in three is moderately food insecure, not knowing where their next meal is coming from.

“WFP is extremely concerned by this alarming level of hunger. People not only lack enough food but are also forced to consume low-cost, low-nutrient food that does not meet their nutritional needs,” added Mr. Adoua.

The report shows that the 2014-2015 harvest was poor and that food prices remain high as farmers have not tended their fields due to insecurity, and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes and abandon their land and livelihoods.

Further clashes erupted in late September as much of the food security data for the assessment was being collected. That violence fuelled more displacement as people were slowly returning home. Nearly 1 million people are still displaced inside CAR or seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.

The report recommends continued emergency food assistance to displaced families and returnees; food and technical assistance to farmers to recover; creating safety nets through programmes such as the school meals programme; and providing support to rehabilitate the infrastructure through food-for-assets activities.

Meanwhile, WFP is providing emergency food and nutritional support to those most vulnerable and plays a crucial role in supporting recovery efforts. The agency’s programmes focused on cash-based transfers and local food purchases going into school meals for thousands of children boost the local economy and people’s livelihoods.

“We must help the most vulnerable, who need emergency food assistance to survive, yet we also need to focus on people across CAR so they can recover and rebuild,” stressed Mr. Adoua.

In December 2015, WFP provided food for nearly 400,000 people through general food distributions, cash-based transfers, nutrition support and school meals, as well as food-for-assets activities, but $41 million is required so that it can respond to urgent needs through to the end of June. To date, WFP’s operation is only 45 per cent funded.

This article was published in the United Nations News Centre.