On Monday, 25 January 2021, the newly accredited South African Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) in New York, Ambassador Mathu Joyini, delivered a statement on South Africa’s long-held position calling for reform of the UN Security Council.
Ambassador Joyini, who presented her credentials on 22 January 2021, delivered her maiden address in the UN General Assembly Hall during the opening session of the Intergovernmental Negotiations on ‘the Question of Equitable Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and other Matters Related to the Security Council’.
The Intergovernmental Negotiations on Security Council Reform is an annual process in which Member States exchange views with the aim of delivering tangible results on reform. This process is in line with the unanimous decision of their Heads of States during the World Summit in 2005 that agreed on an early reform of the Security Council in order to make it more broadly representative, efficient and transparent and thus to further enhance its effectiveness and the legitimacy and implementation of its decisions.
Addressing the opening session, Ambassador Joyini stated, “In 2005 with the adoption of the Ezulwini Consensus, Africa made clear that our goal is: ‘to be fully represented in all the decision-making organs of the UN, particularly in the Security Council, which is the principal decision-making organ of the UN in matters relating to international peace and security’ – this remains our primary goal as we address the issue before us.
South Africa’s recent experience serving as an elected member of the Security Council has proven to us that the non-representation in the permanent category and under-representation in the non-permanent category of Africa adversely affects the Council’s ability to adequately address matters of peace and security on the Continent”.
South Africa’s position is in line with the Common African Position as enshrined in Ezulwini, namely that Africa calls for not less than two permanent seats with all the prerogatives and privileges of permanent membership including the rights of veto. Furthermore, Africa demands five non-permanent seats. While Africa is opposed to the veto in principle, it demands the right to the veto for as long as it exists.
A key foreign policy aim of South Africa remains the comprehensive reform of the Security Council as the composition of the Security Council no longer represents the contemporary realities of the world we live in. South Africa remains gravely concerned that 75 years after the founding of the UN, key decisions on peace and security are de-facto the domain of only five countries. Twenty years of discussions on reform of the Security Council have yielded no movement towards a more representative and inclusive Security Council, despite the overwhelming support by the membership for the Common African Position. We therefore need to invigorate the negotiations on reform at the Intergovernmental Negotiations, including by initiating text-based negotiations.
Ambassador Joyini concluded, “We have an obligation to deliver on the mandate given to us by the Heads of State in 2005, to urgently reform the United Nations Security Council”.