Tuesday, January 24, 2023
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How can Africans have a stronger voice at the UN?

The United Nations General Assembly is going to be held in September in New York, the United States. Both state and non-state entities participate in this significant multilateralism ceremony. This worldwide gathering is expected to resolve or address the majority of the development bottlenecks in multilateral initiatives in developing countries, particularly in Africa.

The event’s theme this year is “Gender equality now for a sustainable tomorrow.” Climate change, environmental protection, and disaster risk reduction are significant challenges in the twenty-first century, and ensuring gender equality in these areas by 2022 is critical.

The significance and importance of Africa’s unique connection with the United Nations should be examined and investigated further. The two most significant themes that should be stressed in all debates at various levels are “development and security.”

I believe the 17 “sustainable development goals (SDG)” may be summed up in two words: development and security. The SDG agenda is most likely to be realized through multilateral negotiations between developed and developing countries.

Since these issues are widespread across Africa, a solution may only be found if Africans can unite under a single voice.


Africa and the UN must emphasize food security as a development concern, which can only be accomplished by embracing the technological revolution. One of the key causes of instability is a lack of access to and scarcity of food.

Fundamentally, securing the attainment of such a critical goal entails assuring complete beneficiary engagement. Notably, the implementation of the socioeconomic development plan from the bottom up and top down is critical.

The method must be inclusive, taking indigenous knowledge systems into account. Aid from the UN or wealthy countries should not be based on the donor’s or recipient’s perspectives but rather on a shared priority for both parties.

The feasibility of such big undertakings in Africa should lead to ownership of the continent’s development and security goals. Access to cash, significant debt, shortage of agricultural inputs, instability, implementation, and inadequate governance are the key impediments to Africa in order to achieve its sustainable development goals.

At the heart of these concerns is the urgent need to modernize and mechanize agricultural processes that are currently labor-intensive and subsistence-based. There are more elements to consider, in addition to the obvious truths of poverty, insecurity, and climate change, which is compounded by deserts and deforestation.

The UN and donor countries can then provide financial and technical assistance. With a feeling of responsibility and perseverance, all stakeholders can participate in the development, implementation, and evaluation of the results.

As we have seen, research-based development concepts demonstrate that any development should be local and environmentally friendly. This must take into account all African development measures, notably those related to agriculture.

The UN General Assembly offers recommendations to governments on international issues that fall under its purview, including the review of SDG implementation plans. Furthermore, it has intervened across all UN pillars, including political, economic, humanitarian, social, and legal issues.

As a result, Africa should actively participate and advocate for a reconsideration of the SDGs in light of their shortcomings.


How can the UN Security Council and the peace architecture be modified to be more inclusive, particularly of Africa’s 1.3 billion people?

The reform of the UNSC will assist Africans, who have suffered unfair treatment for decades. The possible consideration will also help to restart the collaboration in a positive way.

This claim is supported by two major arguments.

The only major region without a permanent seat at the UN is Africa, which is home to more than a quarter of the world’s governments. The loss of Africa’s veto power in the UNSC demonstrates the UN’s level of injustice. Second, the vast bulk of UN peacekeeping missions are situated in Africa.

There is clearly an urgent need to increase African representation on the UNSC, and Africans’ full participation in decision-making cannot be compromised.

The UN and other world countries will undoubtedly support an African seat on the Security Council. The African Union (AU) and the African states that it represents must also take the lead in the struggle for the seat.

I am optimistic that the AU will not make a historical blunder by proposing or supporting a single nation for membership. The pursuit of an African representative on the Council is unavoidable.

Given the vacuum in Africa, the dominant nation may adopt a variety of techniques to divide Africans. For this reason, the political elite should actively contribute to overcoming the current isolation from the global power struggle in order to avoid such drama and complexity.

Every two years, the AU Assembly of Heads of State meets to establish priorities and submit a cohesive agenda to the UNGA. A rotating country delegation must also be included in the strategy to represent the African agenda at the UN. The implementation of decisions and accords, in particular, is necessary to support the development and security agenda.

Africa and the UN must transform their relationship from one of disillusionment to one of productive partnership.

The method will help Africa be heard more clearly, avoiding a dispersed and discordant voice. Similarly, we must question why 55 African countries send delegates to the Assembly in New York every year rather than speaking with one voice.

Why is a scarce resource supplied by taxpayers being wastefully squandered? The spectacle must be limited, and Africa must exhibit a sense of duty and obligation not only to the UN but also to the electorate. While Africa is home to millions of people living in poverty, it should rigorously evaluate the use of taxpayer cash.

Finally, the prospect of cooperation between Africa and the UN is an issue that needs to be revisited on a regular basis in order to break the cycle of poverty and insecurity.

By 2030, Africa should aspire to stop receiving food aid from USAID, JICA, KOICA, the EU, and other donor countries. Africa must establish an agreement and make a firm commitment.

As long as food aid exists, it will continue to degrade our lives and keep us in a lower evolutionary stage. Remember, if Africa continues to be used as a dumping ground for “food aid,” we will never be able to restore our pride or properly utilize our natural and human resources.

(Seife Tadelle Kidane is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Johannesburg’s Institute of Pan African Thought and Conversation.)

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