News and Information

SA Lays Claim to Permanent Seat On UN Security Council
September 27, 2004

Business Day (Johannesburg)

September 27, 2004
Posted to the web September 27, 2004

International Affairs Editor

SA HAS laid claim to a permanent position on the United Nations (UN) Security Council as representative for Africa, but it still has to lobby extensively to ensure the post does not go to African heavyweights Egypt or Nigeria if there is only one post allocated.

Yesterday, the foreign affairs department said the South African claim did not amount to competition against any other African country as the official African position was to call for two permanent seats.

In a statement last week, SA said it had strong support from Africa and countries around the world to take up a permanent seat on the council.

Nigeria also insisted last week that it deserved Africa's permanent seat on the council. But Senegal has said it wants two permanent and two nonpermanent seats for Africa.

Five new permanent seats are likely to be allocated on a regional basis after UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan receives the report of a high-level panel on threats, challenges and changes towards the end of the year.

SA's statement may speed up an African Union (AU) decision on which country should represent the continent on the council.

The decision could be taken early next year. But President Thabo Mbeki has said that if Africa cannot decide, the UN would resolve the matter.

With many world leaders in New York last week for the opening of the UN General Assembly, intense lobbying for the additional seats has begun. The lobbying is likely to hang over world diplomacy for at least the next six months and perhaps longer.

Last week India, Germany, Japan, and Brazil said that, with Africa, they should get the new permanent seats a position that is supported by France and the UK. However, Italy said the expansion should only be through the creation of additional nonpermanent members.

SA did not join India, Germany, Japan, and Brazil in making a statement as the AU must still decide on the question of African representation.

At issue in the reform of the council is the overall size of the expansion, the allocation of new seats, and whether new permanent members would have the right to veto.

The five permanent members, China, France, Russia, UK, and the US, would be likely to thwart any attempt to scrap or dilute their veto rights.


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