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Ethiopia for Permanent Membership in the United Nations Security Council

The United Nations, formally established on October 24, 1945, is celebrating its diamond jubilee this year. Its main objective is to maintain peace and security in the world.

This intergovernmental organization has five organs of which the Security Council shouldered the major responsibilities in decision making for international peace and security. The Council has five permanent members and another ten non-permanent members.

Veto power should not be possessed only by well developed countries. The world is not composed of only rich countries. Least Developed countries should get chance of veto power in the Security Council. Especially Africa which has many least developed countries and also origin of mankind should not be excluded from major decisions concerning human beings. There are many reasons why Ethiopia should be considered for the permanent Seat in the Security Council. I argue Ethiopia, which is the only country not to be colonialized in Africa, should be present at the Council. Ethiopia is also the most populous country in the Horn of Africa and the second in Africa. It is home to half of population in the Horn region, one of the strategic blocks in the continent.

Signatory of the UN Charter

The United Nations was established after the end of the Second World War. The conference of its establishment was held in San Francisco in 1945. There were only 51 countries that signed on the Charter. Representing Ethiopia, Ato Aklilu Habtewold, the then Foreign Minister, signed the Charter. Ethiopia is one of the earliest signatory countries of this charter. Apart from that, Ethiopia has ratified many of the United Nations conventions and also served as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security council. Unlike many African countries, Ethiopia also was member of the former League of Nations.

Contribution to Peace Keeping Missions

As a founding member of the United Nations, Ethiopia also supported the United Nations Principles of Collective Security that focus on the global peace and security. By supporting the principle, Ethiopia has participated in different peace-keeping operations starting from the 1950s. Subsequently, Ethiopia has actively participated in operations organized and led by the United Nations and the African Union. 

Ethiopia sent troops to South Korea, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia, Abiye and Darfur (in the Sudan), Somalia in peace-keeping operations. Currently (September 2020) Ethiopia has contributed 6397 troops to the Peace Keeping Missions of the United Nations in the world. This makes Ethiopia first from the world.

Ethiopia as a founder and seat of the African Union

In the permanent membership of the Security Council, Africa is not represented. Rather it is expected to implement the decision made by the five veto powers. Ethiopia played a great role for the establishment of the Organization of the African Union (OAU). This continental organization was formally established in the conference of the heads of state and heads of government in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. Some compare her role as a midwife to its born on 25 May 1963. The founding of the OAU became a single achievement for the entire unity. Addis Ababa has become the Head Quarter of the OAU. In the new millennium, the organization is changed into the African Union (AU). Moreover Ethiopia is the seat of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Ethiopia is supporting troops through UN-AU hybrid peace keeping forces. Besides Ethiopia is a logistic base of the East African Stand by Force. She is playing a great role in maintain peace in the region and the continent at large.

Ethiopia is origin of Mankind

Various researches of scientists are showing that East Africa is the origin of mankind. Lucy, a 3.2 million-year old fossil skeleton of a human ancestor was found in Ethiopia on November 24,1974. It is regarded as one of ancient fossil that indicates East Africa as the place where the first human being originated. One can argue that in ancient time few Africans “possess” the whole world but now segregated from decision making process in the Security Council as permanent member.

Ethiopia Won Injustice of Colonialism

The Scramble for Africa on paper was formulated by the Berlin Conference in 1884-85. In implementing the partition on the ground European colonial powers moved into most of African countries. Ethiopia which won the battle of Adwa in the fight against the Italian colonial power in 1896 secured the sovereign status of the country. Again the Italian force invaded Ethiopia in 1936. After five years of struggle Fascist Italy was defeated by the combined forces of Ethiopian patriots, Britain and France military officials in 1941.

In 1945 almost all African countries were colonized by European countries. At a time of the United Nations establishment, Ethiopia was an independent country that gave right to sign on the Charter. Ethiopia could be part of the global history because of maintaining its own independence and was on the side of winners of the Second World War.

Ethiopia Supported the Struggle for Independence in Africa

As a sovereign country, Ethiopia was supporting many African countries in their fight for independence. Being a member of the United Nations, Ethiopia could get an opportunity to be voice of colonized countries and to the people under Apartheid. In 1960 Ethiopia and Liberia brought suit against South Africa in the International Court of Justice to stop Apartheid. Nelson Mandela who was the freedom fighter in South Africa also got military training in Ethiopia.

Since Ethiopia got its independence through fierce straggle, the color of its flag (Green,  Yelow and Red) became popular and regarded as a Pan African color. Twenty nine African countries adopted these three colors as their national’s flag color.

Ethiopia Hosts Largest Refugees

Currently (2020) there are 26 million refugees in the world. Because of volatile situation in the Horn of Africa there is immigration of peoples from neighboring countries to Ethiopia. In this year there are about 750,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers that make Ethiopia one of the largest refugee hosting countries in the world. The refugees come from nineteen countries, with the majority from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and the Sudan. Ethiopia is praised in handling these peoples. This shows her commitment to respect and implement the international conventions of the United Nations.

Gender Representation in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is party to many international conventions that focuses on gender. She is expected to fulfill its commitments. The present government of Ethiopia is promoting gender as one of its priorities. Women are getting highest political posts in the country. The current president of Ethiopia is Ms. Sahelework Zewdie. Moreover half of the Cabinet Ministers are women. It is difficult to get such gender balance in political spheres in almost all countries of the world. Similarly, about forty percent of the members of parliament in Ethiopia are women. Even if these measures are commendable, there is a long way to go to make men and women equal in the political, social, cultural and economic arena in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia and Nobel Peace Award

Ethiopia is working for world peace. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia won the 2019 Nobel Peace Award. This award made him the 100th winner of the Nobel Prize. According to the Nobel Committee he got the award "for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighboring Eritrea."

He broke the no peace no war situations between Ethiopia and the neighboring Eritrea that continued for the last twenty years. The prime minister said that he accepted the award on behalf of Ethiopians and Eritreans. Recognizing Ethiopia as the cradle of mankind the Nobel Committee underlined that “we are all Ethiopians”.

In Africa very few prominent persons have got this prestigious award. He has been praised by the United Nations Secretary General “for creating a pathway to stability in the Horn of Africa”. The government has also established Ministry of Peace that shows the commitment of Ethiopia to have peace in the country, the region and the world at large.

Ethiopia as ancient Country

Ethiopia has an ancient history. During the Aksumite period in Ethiopia, there were only four “great powers” in the world:- Rome, China, Persia and Aksum. Ethiopia was also mentioned in the Bible for more than 40 times. Unlike other African countries, Ethiopia has her own script for writing system called Geez. Ancient Ethiopia had also minted coins for trade. Beginning in the late third century, the kings of Aksum minted gold, silver, and bronze coins. During this time there were few governments in the world.

Ethiopia and Religious Tolerance

More than 95 percent of Ethiopians are followers of religions mainly Christianity and Islam. In the fourth century Ethiopia adopted Christianity during the reign of King Ezana. The first followers of Prophet Mohammed who had been persecuted by the ruling Quraysh tribe of Mecca sought refuge in the Christian Kingdom of Aksum, present day Ethiopia. This historical event has contributed a lot to establish religious tolerances in the current Ethiopia.

Conclusion

So far the Security Council is not reformed so as to be inclusive to many nations in the world. Africa which has about one billion people is not represented in the Security Council as permanent member. This injustice should stop in celebrating the 75th year of the United Nations. There are many reasons to consider Ethiopia as permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations.

Ed.’s Note: Melaku Mulualem is an associate of the Institute of Strategic Affairs, based in Addis Ababa, writing on a personal capacity. He can be reached at [email protected] The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the view of The Reporter

Contributed by Melaku Mulualem