On January 12 a UN Security Council session was devoted to Africa’s role in crisis management on its soil. There was a specific feature important enough to be noticed – it was not South Africa’s permanent representative who chaired it (South Africa is performing the duties of the Council’s chairman in January) but president of the country Jacob Zuma, who came especially to attend the event. Formally the session was limited by the issue of strengthening Africa’s role in Somalia but WHAT was said and HOW leaves no place to doubt: the African Union decided to move to a qualitatively new stage of its activities…
An attempt of African states to take the management of their own crisis into their hands is well understood –Africa accounts for over 70% of the UN Security Council agenda. Only three states represent the continent in the Council (South Africa, Togo and Morocco). Morocco’s relation to the continent is limited by geographic factor. No political link unites it with Africa, the country is not a member of neither the African Union, nor the Organization of African Unity (OAU). The African region is the largest continent from point of view of number of states (54) but it has no permanent Security Council representation.
Jacob Zuma directly called for the UN reform, emphasizing the need to legitimize the Security Council. This is a harsh but just way to put it. The disproportional representation is not the only problem here, it’s a long time since the Security Council has stopped to fulfill its major function – to maintain international peace and security. Though the members are to act in the interests of the whole international community, the picture is quite different in practice. One gets a big surprise once acquainted with the UN Security Council’s agenda.
Until now the complaints launched by Libya in 1983, 1984, 1986, 1989, a complaint launched by Sudan even in 1958 as well as other numerous complaints and requests for UN aid launched by African states are on the shelf. (In a mysterious way the UN Security Council reports have stopped to include the list of issues submitted for the Council’s consideration lately, It’s impossible to find the list on the Security Council’s official website. Though it’s not so hard to understand what’s behind it).
A question may arise why all these appeals have been pigeonholed? One should refer to the article 12 of the UN Charter that says the General Assembly cannot tackle the issues under the consideration by the Security Council. Thus the full representation body is destitute of a right to make decisions on the issues «under the consideration», even if they’re not really put up for discussion. By the way the reform proposals under consideration at present include the creation of regional security councils. It’s a result of the Security Council’s refusal to be impartial and serve the interests of all members of international community.
Now at last the African Union decided to raise the question of gradual transfer of the crisis management into its own hands. The Libyan situation and the UN participation in its «management» gave rise to it. Jacob Zuma stressed the fact that a political road map to solve the Libyan crisis was elaborated by the African Union last year. The plan was totally ignored in favor of NATO air strikes. Now the president said directly that the NATO operation in Libya was a preventive strike against the African Union’s initiative.
In fact the UN Security Council prevented peaceful settlement in Libya. Going back to the circumstances the UN Security Council’s resolution N 1973 was adopted in, one could see it was put up for vote straight after the resolution N 1970. A question pops up – why all this haste? Especially taking into account the fact that the previous resolution hadn’t been carried out? The matter is – it’s exactly this time the African Union’s peaceful initiative was put forward. The one worked out with active participation of South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma.
The idea that it was Somalia that gave impetus to the African Union’s decision (headed by South Africa) to start gradual withdrawal from the UN Security Council’s guardianship has solid substantiation. The situation in Somalia is not only a result of a unique special operation to destroy the state (such examples are numerous), but rather a long term destruction of statehood as such leaving no hope for restoration. The reconstruction efforts in Somalia have been in vain for twenty years now. And there are no visible reasons why.
More over the causes for instability, that are most typical for African states, are absent there. Like multiethnic population, for instance. Unlike other Black continent states, Somalia is a mono ethnical country, the titular nation – the Somali, makes up almost 90% of the population. True, there is a strongly rooted clan system, but it doesn’t hamper statehood restoration (it was not the division along clan lines that caused the Somalia’s collapse). The collapse of Somalia is a special case of unique methods used and unique results received. It’s not excluded Somalia was a test ground for Libya’s destruction.
Russia extended support to South Africa on many issues with some exclusions. Vitaly Churkin, the Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, said Russia supported African organizations efforts to maintain peace on the continent. But he also stressed the African Union’s endeavors were to be supported by the Security Council’s authority. Actually the words about the authority may have a rather broad meaning.
The new and old world order made the African continent suffer, perhaps even more than others. Africa has always been an object, not a subject of international law. It still is. A short period (since 1960s) when the situation looked to be turning for better, only emphasizes the fact the many centuries history restarted in the 1990s is still very much a reality.
But what started to take place after the existing world order destruction process was launched is intolerable. Africa has become a test ground for all kinds of «international» operations, while a number of victims has no significance. The UN participation in African crises management has been gradually becoming crises maintenance or even fueling. That’s why the aspiration of Africa and the African Union to get rid of such «guardianship» is naturally determined and lawful. The process has just started and its direction is clear to see.