Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Nigeria’s hope for clinching a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, dims as the President of the UN General Assembly, María, Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, has said there is no consensus in sight.
She described the process of Security Council Reform as the most complex, divisive and contentious negotiations processes at the UN.
According to her, 25 years after the mandate to negotiate the reform started and 10 years after the inter-governmental negotiations kick-started, there is no consensus because there are very different views and positions regarding the reform process.
Garcés was responding to a question on countries pressing for UN Security Council reforms, to expand the five permanent seats to make it possible for new countries to become permanent members, after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Nigeria has evidently utilised opportunities available to her, not only to express but literally, to canvas her aspiration for a permanent seat in an enlarged and reformed Security Council of the United Nations.
In 2017, Babatunde Nurudeen, permanent representative of Nigeria to ECOWAS at the UN general assembly debate on “Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council,” had demanded an immediate restructuring and expansion of the UN security council to correct the injustices meted out against Africa in the composition of the 15-member body.
The security council is the UN’s most powerful principal organ charged with the maintenance of international peace and security, accepting new members to the UN and approving any changes to the UN charter.
It’s powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, the authorisation of military action and it is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.
Asked what the prospects are and what is needed to achieve this, the UN President said: “Regarding the question of UN Security Council reform, I have to say very honestly that this is one of the most complex, divisive and contentious negotiations processes at the UN.
“As you know, the reform of the security council is under the responsibility of the UN General Assembly and I have appointed two co-chairs to lead the works of the inter-governmental negotiations that have been taking place for 10 years now.
“The process of reforms had started 25 years ago and the mandate to negotiate the reform came 10 years ago when I was the Ambassador of Ecuador at the UN. And at the time I thought we had a resolution to start the negotiations and with great naivety, I thought this is going to be a process that will perhaps be for two or three years. Ten years later, I have to say that there is no consensus; there are very different views and positions regarding the reform process. As we know, we need consensus to advance reforms. This is one of the issues where my work as the president is to lead to make sure that we agree on the fundamentals to ensure that the process is inclusive and transparent.
“The outcome of the reform is going to depend very much on the political will of member states themselves. Then of course, the African position is well known and there are also different groups that also have different positions, we are trying to bring them together and find a common denominator. And the common denominator is that the security council has to deliver more and better because they have the main responsibility to deliver on peace and security agenda of the organisation.”
On the humanitarian needs in the Lake Chad area, Garcés said that is the role of the UN. “We are deploying all our capacities not only our office of humanitarian affairs but all our development apparatus of the UN, working in all the Chad Basin, supporting governments, countries and the leaders to improve humanitarian aid according to people’s needs in the regions and micro-regions.
“I have specific numbers on how much, specific coverage and people but everything we do is in strict and close coordination with the governments of the Lake Chad Basin.
“As you know, the UN has signed five-year UN cooperation framework with Nigeria whereby $4.5 million will be channelled according to the Nigerian government’s priorities.”