Statement by Ambassador Felix A. Aniokoye
Amb. Felix A. Aniokoye, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the United Nations|
Washington DC, United States
October 23, 2007
I want to thank you for this opportunity to speak to you this afternoon on the US-UN relations. I hope my addressing the subject from an African perspective will meet your expectations.
Ambassador Aniokoye of Nigeria
Let me start by stating the obvious, and that is to opine that the United States of America is the most powerful economic, military and political entity on earth. By this endowment, events associated with the United States, even the relative decline of the dollar, directly or indirectly affects the lives and overall development of each member state of the United Nations.
It therefore follows that for the stability and peace of the world, the United States foreign policy bears relevance to the destiny of the members of the United Nations. On the other hand, one thing the United States may not ignore, as they say in Africa, is that "no rich man, for fear of the unknown, sleeps well when he is surrounded by people living in abject poverty." That is to say that the peace and the good image of the United States depend conversely on the well-being and stability of the less privileged members of the United Nations.
Since the founding of the United Nations, the world body has kept faith with the Charter, in particular its Article 1, which states, inter alia, that "the purposes of the Organization are to maintain international peace and security, address international, social, economic and cultural problems and promote fundamental freedoms.' Today, although tremendous progress has been made, arising from relations between the organization and its members, every Member State needs the UN, perhaps more than ever before, to realize the vision of the founders.
In order to achieve this vision, many countries, from the inception of the organization, began to align their foreign policy objectives with the goals and mandate enshrined in the Charter. The Untied States of America was very instrumental to the creation of the United Nations, and thus the American Constitution reflects the major ideals and principles embodied in the Charter. This has to do with the commitment of the United States to and belief in multilateral cooperation in foreign policy.
As for Africa, the story was different at the beginning of the founding of the United Nations in that only two African countries could consider themselves independent and able to benefit from a foreign policy of an international standard, carrying along with it the ideals of the United Nations.
In this regard, let us take a moment to reflect on Africa's situation at the time. It was then a continent divided, famished and ruled by colonial interests. It had no economy of its own to benefit from the UN and the United States' development agenda. Africans had no rights to life and freedom as to benefit from the United Nations' magnanimous Declaration, making human rights issues inalienable rights. However, with the establishment of its Decolonization Committee, sustained efforts were made to grant independence to a whole range of countries constituting the African Continent. Before then, the question of the US relations with Africa in the context of the UN Agenda was neither here nor there.
It must be remarked that the United States was the only major country in the Western hemisphere that did not colonize any country in Africa. Therefore, the US support of the UN Decolonization agenda was total, and if there was any slight interest attached relating to the Cold War, the important thing to note was that the US' foreign policy allowed the UN Decolonization policy to prevail, and today there are no colonial states in Africa.
The immediate United Nations' relations with Africa following independence were highlighted by the quest for the economic emancipation of the continent, principally through the establishment of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, which broadly aims at promoting the socio-economic development of the continent. The United States foreign policy recognized this positive role of the United Nations, and the US effectively partnered with the UN in focusing the development agenda in the continent, in some respects through bilateral ties with governments.
Indeed, America's impact on the UN development agenda for Africa, which includes capacity building and environmental projects, is significant and commendable. There is little discrepancy between the UN and the US policy for Africa's development. In recent times, the United States of America seems to have come out eminently to contribute more meaningfully to the socio-economic development of Africa, through massive injection of funds into the critical areas of Africa's needs and quest to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals. Such areas of collaboration between the UN and the US include the UN Habitat, Guinea Worm Eradication program, President George W. Bush's multi-billion dollar assistance towards the fight against HIV/AIDS, Bill and Melinda Gates' fund for HIV/AIDS Control and Global Fund for Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Although the United States has, in collaboration with the UN, done quite a bit to provide succor to Africa, yawning gaps exist, crying to be filled in the critical areas of infrastructural development, energy, road transportation, communications, technology transfer and foreign direct investment desperately needed, to stand Africa where it should be, in consonance with the UN development agenda.
One of the broad goals of the United Nations remains the intervention of the world body in armed conflict situations that threaten international peace and security. It is unfortunate that about 75 percent of these conflicts occur in Africa and require funding for their effective control and post-conflict management. While it may be argued that the views of the United States and those of the majority members of the UN on the basic principles of peacekeeping operations may not always be on the same plane and between the same parallels, the US has been very effective and supportive of the United Nations Peacekeeping operations in Africa.
A major challenge before the United Nations today is the question of Reforms of the UN system, aimed at bringing about more efficiency, openness and transparency in its operations. This has become necessary because, although the goals of the UN have remained the same since its inception, a lot of changes have taken place requiring recognition in the framework and structure of the organization. These include the growing number of members from 50 countries at inception to the present number of 192 member states in the Organization. Not the least but very important is the fact that Africa is the only region that has no representation at the permanent category of the highest decision-making body of the UN, the Security Council.
It is indeed praiseworthy that the US Government is one of the major stakeholders that called for the Reforms of the United Nations. At the 60th anniversary of the UN General Assembly in September 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for Reforms of the United Nations. Since then, the United States has made it clear that its top priority is management reforms. This was emphasized by President George W. Bush during his address before the General Assembly in September 2005, where he noted that meaningful institutional reforms "must include measures to improve internal oversight, identify cost savings and ensure that precious resources are used for their intended purposes.' However, the expectation of developing countries, particularly in Africa, goes beyond management reform, but rather looks towards comprehensive reforms of the vital organs of the United Nations, including the Security Council.
IN this connection, one can safely assert that in view of the US's consistent collaboration with the UN on Africa, it is no longer expedient to isolate Africa's interests from the UN mechanism. Therefore, it is recommended that the United States go the whole hog to advocate and support these Reforms which will ensure permanent membership status of Africa in the Security Council. Indeed, it is no longer fashionable to emphasize bilateral relations with Africa and not pay adequate attention to Africa's benefits, derivable from multilateral mechanisms like the UN.
At least, this is the expressed wish of the majority of the Member States of the Organization, and its implementation or otherwise is bound to make a difference in the United States' relations with the UN. We pray for a positive outcome for all sides.
I thank you.
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