The key to Security Council reform

2012-09-15 12:09

South Africa has focused on enhancing its regional and international profile.

Key among these efforts has been its position on the need for UN Security Council reform.

International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane’s lecture at the University of Pretoria this week on South Africa’s foreign policy prioritised this issue.

This is in line with similar views from the department historically, but particularly since South ­Africa assumed its second term as a non-permanent member on the UN Security Council in January 2011.

On the basis of the 2005 Ezulwini Consensus, South Africa has strongly espoused the African position that argues reform should redress historical injustices to represent the current ­global order better.

It lobbied for two permanent seats with the ­veto for Africa and five ­non-permanent seats.

Africa now constitutes 1 billion of the earth’s 7 billion inhabitants and is the subject of the council’s agenda 75% of the time. It is showing bullish economic growth rooted in its immense ­resource wealth.

These reasons support greater representation of Africa and its issues on the world’s pre-eminent multilateral platform.

There is very little clarity on South Africa’s strategy of engagement on this particular foreign policy imperative during its current term at the council, nor how it will be pursued afterwards. The minister has focused on ­increased representation, but does not suggest how the council might achieve such reform, or achieve a more equitable representation of the global order.

This is crucial in a dynamic and shifting political milieu.

South Africa’s current term on the council closes in December, and seeking Security Council reform is akin to fighting a losing battle because the very nature of the permanent seats and veto power stymie any action that would seek to remove the veto.

The broad consensus is an approach that supports the removal of the veto is bound to be stillborn. Incremental reform is likely the most practical approach – to sell the P5 and reform-minded countries first on some smaller reforms, such as expanding the number of non-permanent seats, and then gradually building on these gains.

South Africa will again bid for a non-permanent seat once the mandatory one-year wait ends. But beyond this, if Pretoria is serious about realistic action, it will need to formulate a concrete strategic approach to Security Council reform that Africa and the rest of the world can rally behind.

» Otto is a researcher on the SA Foreign Policy and African Drivers Programme at the SA Institute of International Affairs

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.