Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, affirmed that his country is in favor of giving Africa a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. The Foreign Minister also concurred with Ethiopian officials that the Security Council should undergo reform in a bid to take into account the current state of the world.
Lavrov arrived in Addis Ababa on July 26, 2022 for a two-day trip, where he met President Sahlework Zewde; Demeke Mekonen, deputy prime minister and foreign minister, and other high officials. Lavrov also traveled to Egypt, Congo, and Uganda, before wrapping up his Africa trip by conferring with the diplomatic community at the AU headquarters.
“Ethiopia and Russia share similar stances on issues on the global and regional agenda. These approaches rely on adherence to international law, particularly the tenets of the UN charter and the respect for the sovereign rights of states,” said Lavrov.
During the 35th ordinary session of the AU summit in February 2022, PM Abiy Ahmed (PhD) exceptionally raised the urgent topic of reforming the UN and securing a permanent seat for Africa in the UNSC.
As a result, the AU passed a resolution that requests “full representation of Africa in the United Nations Security Council, including not less than two permanent seats in the United Nations Security Council with all the prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership, including the right of veto.
The AU also proceeded to request the Committee of Ten Heads of State and Government to continue to intensify its engagement at the highest level with other interested and regional groups and key stakeholders, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, with a view to building on progress made in advancing, canvassing and promoting the Common African Position.
The AU’s quest for reform of the UN began in 2005 when African states approved the Ezulwini consensus and Sirte Declaration on the Reform of United Nations Security Council.
In 2010, President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, told the UN General Assembly, “The exclusion of Africa from the permanent member category of the Security Council can no longer be justified. We urge the UN to quicken the pace of its reforms. Not only to better reflect the current global realities but also to ensure that it enjoys genuine legitimacy.”
Africa does not have a proportional representation in the global body.However, the consideration has become critical, as Africa is frequently impacted by decisions over which it has no say.
In particular, both Ethiopia and Russia have been haunted by the UNSC particularly since last year. In the past year, the UNSC discussed sanctioning Ethiopia in relation to human rights violations in the Tigray war. However, the considerations were vetoed by Russia and China. Ethiopia also paid back by refraining from voting, when the UNSC introduced emergency voting in March 2022 to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Demeke appreciated Russia’s “unwavering support during difficult times of need, particularly in the recent struggle to safeguard Ethiopia’s sovereignty.’
The major purpose of Lavrov’s trip to Africa, amidst a propaganda war with the west, is also to secure Africa’s support in similar UN voting scenarios in the future.
Gaining a permanent seat on the UN Security Council will position Africa as a balancing force between the power struggles of the east and west, as well as the rapidly changing global geopolitics. However, reforming the western-dominated organization might not be easy, according to scholars. But once the UN begins processing the AU’s request, Russia and China can play a decisive role in making Africa earn its place in the UN structure.