…urges Africa, Asia to harness numerical supremacy

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AU Chair - His Excellency President R.G. Mugabe

AU Chair – His Excellency President R.G. Mugabe

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Caesar Zvayi in JAKARTA, Indonesia
\nAFRICA and Asia must harness their numerical superiority at a multilateral level to push for a reform of the United Nations system so that their voices can be heard in the international system, President Mugabe has said.

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Officially opening the Asia-Africa Commemoration Conference at the Jakarta Convention Centre here yesterday, President Mugabe hailed historic ties between Africa and Asia, but warned that unless these translated to practicalities, they were bound to remain ritualistic.

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Notable among the leaders of 93 nations who attended the opening ceremony was Chinese president Xi Jinping and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

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The UN system, particularly the powerful Security Council, has remained a virtual spoil of war for the victorious allies of the Second World War: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States to which other UN members get membership on a rotational, temporary basis.

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Only the five permanent members enjoy the veto power on UN decisions.

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Even the global financial architecture mirrors Western hegemony, with the US choosing the president of the World Bank while Europe picks the boss of the International Monetary Fund.

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President Mugabe, who co-chaired the conference, decried this power imbalance calling on Africa and Asia, that together constitute 75 percent of the global population or 5.4 billion of the world’s 7.1 billion people, to harness their strength and claim their stake in international affairs.

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Of the 192 UN member states, Africa and Asia constitute 107, fifty-four for Africa and 53 for Asia.

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‘‘African and Asian countries are a formidable force in numerical terms at a multilateral level yet that numerical strength counts for little when it comes to the running and control of the multilateral system. In the United Nations, the voice of the five permanent members of the Security Council carries more weight than that of the rest of us, the majority. And I am glad Your Excellency (referring to host President Wido Widodo) made reference to the imbalance in the United Nations system in your own speech,’’ President Mugabe said.

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The Security Council is not representative of the geopolitical realities of the modern world. Both Africa and Latin America, with 54 and 33 member-states, lack a permanent seat on the Council, while Europe with 52 member-states is overrepresented with three permanent seats and Asia is underrepresented with one seat.

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Africa’s position on the reform of the UN Security Council is enshrined in the Ezulwini Consensus, named after a valley in central Swaziland where an agreement was reached in 2005 before its adoption at an Extraordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2005.

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Africa wants at least two permanent seats, with veto power, and five non-permanent seats on the Security Council with the African Union choosing the countries to occupy the seats.

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Asia, which already has representation through China, does not have a unified position with several leading countries angling for membership.

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‘“Our calls for a reform of the Security Council review have yielded nothing so far, we must remobilise for this success. One of the essential ingredients in doing so will be strengthening of our unity in continuing to fight for a United Nations that recognises all its members as equal not only in terms of the Charter but more crucially, in practice,’’ President Mugabe said.

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The Anglo-Saxon alliance has been abusing the UN system for selfish ends, and occasionally by-pass the UN when it suits them to violate, invade or depose sitting governments in countries that do not toe the western line. Their latest escapade in Africa was the flagrant violation of Security Council Resolution 1973 that was issued to effect a no-fly zone over Libya but which the Nato forces used as cover to invade Libya and kill Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in cold blood.

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To this end, President Mugabe said, the Asia-Africa Conference should offer the two continents greater determination to fight for justice.

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‘‘And this Conference at this stage, with Bandung 1955 behind us, and our basis should offer us greater determination to fight for justice at the United Nations. Our unity is founded on the enduring 10 principles of the Bandung Conference and that unity cannot thrive of itself; we have to act it out by being faithful to and being advocates of the principles in our actions and in our pronouncements,’’ he said.

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The conference enters its second and final day today.

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The leaders are expected to adopt a declaration on reinvigorating the Asia-Africa partnerships.

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“Let us reinvigorate it in solidarity, in friendship and in concrete co-operation for the greater benefit of the peoples of our two regions. Regions that are linked by history and geography, and enriched by the diversity of our cultures. And regions really that carry the majority of the people of this world,’’ President Mugabe said.

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The conference was opened by the host president and co-chair Wido Widodo before President Mugabe took the podium in his capacity as co-chair.

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Other leaders then took turns at the podium to address the conference running under the theme, “Enhancing South-South co-operation.’’ – The Herald