Remarks by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and former chairman of the African Union calling for the reform of the United Nations and going a step further to threaten to pull out of the UN, have caused a lot of divisions locally and internationally.
President Mugabe received a standing ovation from his peers Saturday after delivering a no-holds barred speech at the AU summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as he handed over power to Chadian strongman, Idriss Deby.
The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council also known as the Permanent Five, Big Five, or P5, include China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States. The members represent the five great powers from the victors of World War II. Each of the permanent members has the power to veto, enabling them to prevent the adoption of any "substantive" draft Council resolution, regardless of the level of international support for the draft.
But reactions to Mr. Mugabe’s remarks have been varied and Johannesburg-based international relations expert David Monyae says this is a dilemma for Zimbabweans as their leader is very much loved by outsiders yet he is loathed by some at home.
Makonde legislator Kindness Paradza says Mr. Mugabe was spot on.
But opposition MDC-T spokesman Obert Gutu says President Mugabe was merely playing to the gallery.
International relations expert Clifford Mashiri, a former Zimbabwean diplomat in Addis Ababa, argues that Mr. Mugabe must first reform his country before taking the gospel of democracy to the UN.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition regional coordinator Joe Mabenge, says Mr. Mugabe’s call is not new as many developing countries have been pushing for such reforms.
Though there is no consensus on President Mugabe, the messenger, many say there is a growing push by developing nations to reform the all-powerful Security Council. In a paper titled ‘Expert takes on Expanding the UN Security Council’, Graham Allison (Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School) said, ‘’If you are trying to make the Security Council reflective of the world we live in today, it should include at least India, but also a state from Africa (Nigeria or South Africa), and one from South America, most likely Brazil.”
In 2005, Africa established a united position on UN reform in the Ezulwinin Consensus. Ezulwini called for the inclusion of two permanent and five non-permanent seats for African countries on the Council and extension of veto powers (should they remain) to new permanent members.
According to the Centre on International Corporation, With 54 member states, Africa has the most countries in any member state reform grouping and the potential for major influence on UNSC reform discussions. Support from all African group countries on a reform initiative would provide 54 votes, making up 42% of the 129 votes required to pass a UN General Assembly resolution expanding the U.N Security Council.
In the past, non-African member states have contributed to the inability of African states to build upon their position. They have done so by either overlooking the significance of African support or leveraging economic and political power to pressure African countries, which has had a negative impact on African unity.