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Africa's Underrepresentation on UN Security Council 'No Longer Sustainable,' Says Zimbabwean Expert

© AP Photo / John MinchilloVasily Nebenzya, Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, speaks during a meeting of the UN Security Council
Vasily Nebenzya, Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations, speaks during a meeting of the UN Security Council - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 29.05.2024
Recently, the UNSC held an open debate on strengthening the role of African states in addressing global security and development challenges. During the debate, Russia's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Dmitry Chumakov, called on the international community to correct the historical injustice of Africa's underrepresentation in the Council.
Africa's under-representation in the UN Security Council is "no longer sustainable, almost 80 years after the United Nations was formed," Dr. Alexander Rusero, Head of the Department of International Relations and Diplomacy at Africa University in Zimbabwe, told Sputnik Africa in an interview.
Echoing calls for increased African representation in the UN Security Council, Dr. Rusero argued that the current structure is a relic of the past and needs to be reformed. He highlighted the historical context of the creation of the UNSC in 1945, when no African nation had achieved independence.

"As you'll recall, the current scenario, as much as Africa's representation is concerned, is still pretty much a reflection of the immediate post-1945 design, which demarcates between the losers and the winners," he explained. "The UN, because of that, has pretty much remained a racially designed organization that purports to represent the world. But in a sense, it's a 'club of white men' that then presides over the global architecture."

Dr. Rusero pointed out Africa's significant geopolitical and socio-economic potential, emphasizing that the continent's voice is crucial in shaping a more equitable and peaceful global order.
The academic applauded Russian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Dmitry Chumakov, for his call to correct "the historical injustice of Africa's underrepresentation" in the UNSC.

"So that kind of truth that has been confronted by the Russian diplomat, Ambassador Chumakov, I think needs the support and to be rallied because it's a wake-up call to say it's a high time we remember Africa, which has been dismembered ever since slave trade took place," Dr. Rusero stated. "This is now the time to relocate Africa to its position to involve and uplift it on the attic of the menu of the global social, political, economic, technological, and cultural architecture."

Representatives of member countries take vote during the Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Friday, Dec. 22, 2023. - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 24.05.2024
Russia Says Need to Redress Historical Injustice in Africa's UNSC Underrepresentation
Dr. Rusero believes that increased African representation in the UNSC would not only bolster global peace and security but also contribute to a more just and inclusive world. He highlighted Africa's unique approach to conflict resolution, emphasizing the continent's peaceful nature and its capacity for mediation.

"We have never quarreled due to borders that were colonially and imperially designed and imposed on us. Imagine what would have happened if borders were imposed in France, if borders were imposed in the United Kingdom.," he said. "The world has a lot to learn from Africa with regard to peace and security than anyone else because we are the least aggressive continent."

Dr. Rusero expressed optimism that the tide is turning in favor of greater African representation, saying that the so-called "rules-based order," dominated by the Global North, is "coming to an end."

"It's an inevitable reality. We are never going to have a hegemonic superpower," he assumed, adding that the chances of Africa gaining a permanent seat in the UN Security Council are increasing.

Western Dominance in UNSC

The Zimbabwean expert argued that this imbalance in the UN Security Council undermines global decision-making, highlighting the hypocrisy of Western powers in the UNSC.
He pointed to the example of the European Union, saying 28 European states, minus the UK after Brexit, formed the EU, but they "pretend this reality doesn't exist" in the UN Security Council.

"France wants its slice of the cake. The UK wants its slice of the cake. But yet, at the EU level, they are one," Dr. Rusero stated.

He further argued that the US, effectively "an extension" of the UK, occupies another seat in the UNSC, further skewing the balance of power.
"So you have three states that pretend to be separate. They are one occupying separate positions. Then you have China representing Asia and Russia representing broader Eastern Europe. So where do you locate Africa in the scheme of things?" he questioned.
Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Commissioner and the Ombudsmen of Venezuela, Mali, Namibia, Nicaragua, Uganda and the Central African Republic at the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Russian Federation in Moscow on October 19, 2023. - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 19.10.2023
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Dr. Rusero expressed appreciation for Russia's stance on this issue, recognizing Moscow's support for increasing African representation.

"I think Russia has also been grappling with the colonial matrix of power thanks to the Russian government under the leadership of President Putin," he explained. "So they [the Russians] are also first realizing that the only genuine ally that they have in this scheme of things could be Africa, because Africa does not seek disadvantage. Africa does not seek to continue being reduced as a beggar, as a charity case, but to have win-win relations."

Dr. Rusero acknowledged that reform efforts are likely to face significant obstacles from Western powers, who benefit from the current structure. However, he expressed optimism about the future.
"A new generation of Africans is waking up to the call. A new generation of Africa is now wedding off certain colonial contracts, duress contracts that Africans continue to be subjugated under, even when they attained independence right from 1956 with Sudan, 1957 Ghana, followed by a wholesome package of states between the 1960s up to the 1990s," he said.

US Dollar 'Hegemony' & Biased International Financial System

Dr. Alexander Rusero also issued a scathing critique of the Bretton Woods system and the dominance of the US dollar in international trade, arguing that it has hampered African economic development and undermined the continent's financial sovereignty.
He highlighted the "weaponization" of the US dollar, explaining how African nations are often punished economically for not aligning with US foreign policy objectives. Dr. Rusero cited the experiences of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Zambia, which have all suffered negative consequences due to the dominance of the US dollar.

"There is no convincing theory of economics other than to say that the US dollar hegemony is no longer sustainable in the 21st century," Dr. Rusero said. "A US dollar hegemony is a pandemic to Africa, which needs to be immunized in terms of some vaccinations of some sort with respect to progressive policies, bilateral and multilateral relations that will bring the much-needed win-win scenario between Africa and any other progressive partner or player."

The international relations expert also condemned the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, both institutions established under the Bretton Woods system, for imposing harmful policies on Africa.
"They have tried all experiments on Africa, which came with the difficulties, paradoxes and complexities that we are still grappling with. You talk about the structural adjustment program that was imposed as conditions for financial lines of credit in Africa that brought untold suffering," he said.
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Dr. Rusero proposed a solution: a shift towards BRICS. According to him, progressive Africans should seriously consider joining the BRICS economic grouping and solidifying the idea of a BRICS currency.
He added that African nations could also use their vast natural resources to create currencies that reflect their true economic potential.
Dr. Rusero emphasized the need for greater African unity, criticizing the continent's internal divisions. Africa has the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and various regional economic communities, yet it takes 20 hours to travel between some African countries, he pointed out.

"Africa can take care of the whole world, as it has been doing all along," he stated. "We need Africa to revitalize its agency and to take itself seriously in international relations and in the process before anyone can start to take us seriously."

Dr. Rusero also highlighted the African Union's recent permanent membership in the G20 as a positive development, but stressed that this alone is not enough.

"Africa's voice now must be heard. Africa's voice must be taken seriously. Africa's urgency must be felt," he concluded. "The G20 members, some of whom are also complicit because they are part and parcel of those who sit in the Security Council, should see every reason and every right for Africa to be in that very same Security Council by way of a permanent seat."