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Ghana joins UN Security Council

Posted by GhanaWeb on 2005/10/12 | Views: 2536 |

Ghana joins UN Security Council


TOUGH negotiations led by President John Agyekum Kufuor and his Foreign Minister, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, beat back stiff regional competition from South Africa and Nigeria to land Ghana a seat on one of the world’s most powerful and highly sensitive decision-making conclaves.

TOUGH negotiations led by President John Agyekum Kufuor and his Foreign Minister, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, beat back stiff regional competition from South Africa and Nigeria to land Ghana a seat on one of the world’s most powerful and highly sensitive decision-making conclaves.

Ghana is among five countries to be elected today by the UN General Assembly as new non-permanent members of the leading UN decision-making body, the Security Council. This will be the third time Ghana has joined the Security Council in the 60-year existence of the world body.

Ghana first joined the Security Council in 1962-1963; returning to it two decades later in 1986-1987, with Congo and Zambia.

Speaking to The Statesman at the weekend, Nana Akufo-Addo said: "It is very significant for Ghana to be a member of the Security Council at this critical time when the whole UN reform process is on the agenda. Also, it is significant that we are in there as the race to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 faces challenges and opportunities which our interest, experience and influence at the highest level will be brought to bear to steer it through." The Foreign Minister also sees Ghana’s membership of Council as symbolic of its wider achievements. "It is symbolic of the new Ghana. Indeed, both at the regional level, ECOWAS, and the continental level, AU, we managed to win unanimous approval for two main reasons. First of all, it is recognised by our fellow Africans that Ghana has come of age, with our respect for the rule of law, democratic accountability and economic revival.

"Secondly, with Ghana being the first Sub-Saharan African country to achieve Independence, its 50th anniversary to be celebrated in 2007, we got our neighbours to appreciate that there was a greater symbolic element in our presence on the Council. It sends a strong global message that there is a new Africa; and Ghana, once again, represents the hope, aspirations and ability of the African."

The MP for Abuakwa South also gave credit to his predecessor at the Foreign Ministry, the MP for New Juabeng, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang. "It was Owusu-Agyemang’s ambition that we join the Security Council and he spoke passionately to me about it. I inherited that ambition and worked on it."

Other African countries which were also vying for the seat, including Nigeria and South Africa, were eventually persuaded to defer to Ghana according to Nana Akufo-Addo.

Like Ghana, the three other countries that are to be elected today - Congo, Qatar and Slovakia - are the only candidates presented by their respective regional groups. Vying for the fifth seat, earmarked for the Latin American-Caribbean group, are Nicaragua and Peru.

The Security Council currently has 15 members in total - five are permanent members and the other 10 are elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms. The five new members, which will take up their seats from January 1, 2006 for a two-year period, will replace Algeria, Benin, the Philippines, Romania and Brazil.

The five other non-permanent members are Argentina, Denmark, Greece, Japan and Tanzania. Their term runs through December 31, 2006. The five veto-wielding permanent members of the Council are Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

However, the structure of the Security Council is under revision, and Ghana’s entry comes at a time when member states are discussing changes in Council membership and working to reflect today’s political and economic realities. These include a possible expansion of the body to include more permanent members, an issue which has already aroused a great deal of interest in a number of African nations.

The AU has now demanded the right to select African representatives to the Security Council and to set up its selection criteria for African members of the Council. South Africa is widely seen as a favourite to fill one of the permanent seats if the UN agrees to set some aside for Africa at the Security Council in the reform process. Senegal is the latest African country to put forth its name for a permanent seat on the Council and other African countries jockeying for a place are Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and Libya.

In an article on P.7 of The Statesman today, "Africa and the UN Security Council Permanent Seats," the author, Wafula Okumu points out that although the hottest rivalries are in Asia, particularly between India and Pakistan, and between Japan, South Korea and China, Africa is also exhibiting deep divisions along regional and language lines as countries scramble for the coveted seats. Mr Okumu argues that the Security Council is now more important than ever to Africa, particularly concerning matters of intervention in the conflicts occurring within the region. "These decisions will become more legitimate and easier to implement if they are made through democratic processes," he says. The United Nations Security Council is the most powerful organ of the United Nations, charged with maintaining peace and security between nations. While other organs of the UN only make recommendations to member governments, the Security Council has the power to make decisions which member governments must carry out under the United Nations Charter.

On rare occasions, the Council has authorised member states to use "all necessary means," including collective military action, to see that its decisions are carried out. The Council also makes recommendations to the General Assembly on the appointment of a new Secretary-General and on the admission of new members to the UN.

The United Nations Security Council is the most powerful organ of the United Nations. It is charged with maintaining peace and security between nations. While other organs of the UN only make recommendations to member governments, the Security Council has the power to make decisions which member governments must carry out under the United Nations Charter. The decisions of the Council are known as UN Security Council Resolutions.

The United Nations has six main organs. Five of them — the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council and the Secretariat — are based at UN Headquarters in New York. The sixth, the International Court of Justice, is located at The Hague in the Netherlands. When the General Assembly is not meeting, its work is carried out by its six main committees, other subsidiary bodies and the UN Secretariat.

Measures the Security Council, the UN’s most influential organ, can take to enforce its decisions have included the imposition of economic sanctions or the order of an arms embargo. On rare occasions, the Council has authorised Member States to use "all necessary means," including collective military action, to see that its decisions are carried out.

The Council also makes recommendations to the General Assembly on the appointment of a new Secretary-General and on the admission of new Members to the UN.

In an article on P.7 of The Statesman today, "Africa and the UN Security Council Permanent Seats," the author, Wafula Okumu points out that although the hottest rivalries are in Asia, particularly between India and Pakistan, and between Japan, South Korea and China, Africa is also exhibiting deep divisions along regional and language lines as countries scramble for the coveted seats. Senegal is the latest African country to put forth its name for a permanent seat on the Council, should the body be expanded. Other African countries jockeying for the permanent seats are South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and Libya.

Mr Okumu argues that the Security Council is now more important than ever to Africa, particularly concerning matters of intervention in the conflicts occurring within the region. "These decisions will become more legitimate and easier to implement if they are made through democratic processes," says he. The AU has demanded the right to select African representatives to the Security Council and to set up its selection criteria for African members of the Council. However, South Africa is widely seen as a favourite to fill one of the permanent seats if the UN agrees to set some aside for Africa at the Security Council in the reform process.

Permanent membership status is vital. For example, decisions in the 15-member Security Council on all substantive matters, such as a decision calling for direct measures related to the settlement of a dispute, require the affirmative votes of nine members. Yet, a negative vote - a veto - by a permanent member prevents adoption of a proposal, even if it has received the required number of affirmative votes. Abstention is not regarded as a veto.

Under the UN Charter, the functions and powers of the Security Council are: to maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations; to investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction; to recommend methods of adjusting such disputes or the terms of settlement; to formulate plans for the establishment of a system to regulate armaments; to determine the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression and to recommend what action should be taken; to call on Members to apply economic sanctions and other measures not involving the use of force to prevent or stop aggression; to take military action against an aggressor; to recommend the admission of new Members; to exercise the trusteeship functions of the United Nations in "strategic areas"; to recommend to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and, together with the Assembly, to elect the Judges of the International Court of Justice. The United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security

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