, NEW YORK, Sep 29 – The world has transformed since 1945 and the United Nations must acknowledge that Africa is no longer a colony but a continent of independent states.
In the words of Robert Mugabe, chairman of the African Union, “the UN remains mired in a long by-gone era; an archaic hierarchy even though the world has changed.”
In his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York Monday, Mugabe and South African President Jacob Zuma both stressed the need for reform of the UN Security Council and process of appointing the UN Secretary General.
“It is unacceptable and unjustifiable that more than one billion people in the African continent are still excluded as permanent members of the key decision making organ of the United Nations – the UN Security Council.”
He said in contrast, a continent (Europe) with a population far smaller than Africa was represented by three countries (France, Russia and the United Kingdom) on the UN Security Council.
“This is unfair,” Zuma protested.
He pushed for further reform to the manner in which the UN Secretary General is appointed, saying the current process was not inclusive.
The current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon steps down at the end of 2016.
Already, Equality Now, an international organisation that campaigns for the rights of women and girls has launched an online campaign to promote female candidates to lead the UN.
China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council) traditionally select a single candidate for ratification by a majority vote of the 193 member states.
Countries may nominate candidates, but the Security Council makes the final decision behind closed doors without publishing any list of the contenders during the process or engaging in any discussion with member states.
In his address Monday, Mugabe said Africa was keen to engage with nations that will help accelerate and deepen economic growth on the continent.
“Africa is not looking for handouts but cooperation in areas such as infrastructure development,” he told delegates to the 70th session of the UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York.
“We need an empowered continent, not one that is deprived,” the Zimbabwean leader emphasised.
“We call on the genuine friends of Africa and those who value justice to support Africa’s just and reasonable proposals… Nowhere does the UN charter arrogate to some to sit in judgement over others.”
He said Africa rejects attempts “to prescribe new rights contrary to our moral beliefs; we are not gays! Confrontation and double standards will not help.”
He demanded the immediate lifting of sanctions placed on Zimbabwe by the US and its NATO allies saying he did not understand what wrong his country has done.
“We desire to live in harmony; we have peace and don’t want war. We are also against interference and regime change.”