UN Security Council must include more African nations: Ramaphosa

Current structure 'does not reflect the world in which we live'

22 September 2020 - 21:16
By thabo mokone AND Thabo Mokone
President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the first day of the general debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.
Image: GCIS President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the first day of the general debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has used his address to the 75th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to renew his push for the reform of the multilateral body's Security Council, saying its current composition is at odds with today's realities.

Delivering a pre-recorded message to the virtual sitting of the 75th UNGA, Ramaphosa said Pretoria was still campaigning for the inclusion of more African countries as permanent members of the Security Council.

The council has only five countries as permanent members and 10 more as rotating non-members, with SA currently serving its second year as an elected non-permanent member.

The five permanent members are China, Russia, the US, France and the UK.

But Ramaphosa told the UN meeting on Tuesday that in a rapidly changing world, this current arrangement needed to be changed on an urgent basis.

"We have used our tenure to promote international peace and security by advocating for the peaceful settlement of disputes and inclusive dialogue," he said.

"The current composition of the Security Council does not reflect the world in which we live.

"On the 75th anniversary of the UN, we repeat our call for greater representation of African countries on the Security Council, and that this be taken up with urgency at the intergovernmental negotiations.

The path we choose now will determine our collective destiny.
Cyril Ramaphosa

"It is only through a reformed and inclusive UN Security Council that we will be able to collectively resolve some of the world’s most protracted conflicts."

Ramaphosa said as the world battled the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, global leaders had duty to craft a new world order that was anchored on international solidarity and shunned rising unilateralism.

"Today we battle the fires of a deadly pandemic, of racism and prejudice, of violence, war and extremism and, above all, of poverty and inequality.

"The order we seek to build must be rooted in solidarity, equality and unity of purpose. 

"The coronavirus pandemic has presented us with a choice. It is a choice between the global cooperation envisaged in the UN Charter or the pursuit of narrow self-interest and unilateralism. It is a choice between tolerance or prejudice. It is also a choice between economic justice or growing inequality. 

"The path we choose now will determine our collective destiny."

Ramaphosa, who also addressing the UNGA as chairperson of the African Union (AU), told global leaders that the AU had established a Covid-19 response fund but the pandemic would push back the socio-economic development of the continent.

He called for rich nations to roll out an economic stimulus packages for African countries in response to the impact of Covid-19.

Ramaphosa said this would form part of a "new global deal" mooted by UN secretary-general António Guterres when he delivered the 18th Nelson Mandela annual lecture in July.

"It is in the spirit of this new global deal that we call on the international community and our international partners to support the rollout of a comprehensive stimulus package for African countries," he said.

"This will enable African countries to not only mitigate the health impacts of Covid-19 but to aid us in the immense task of rebuilding our shattered economies. 

"To ensure that no country is left behind, we reiterate our position as the African Union that economic sanctions against Zimbabwe and Sudan should be lifted to allow their governments to respond adequately to the pandemic. 

"We also call for the suspension of interest payments on Africa’s external and public debt."