Prior to Africa forum meet, India polishes its UNSC pitch

India and Africa must work together to ensure UN Security Council reforms, says External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, calling this a “major issue” for them as the UN celebrates its 70th anniversary. Addressing the Editors’ forum ahead of the India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) in the capital from October 26-29, Ms. Swaraj said that it was necessary to remove the “anomaly” that neither has a permanent place at the UNSC.

“It is inconceivable that the Security Council today does not have any permanent representation from Africa which is the largest continent. It is also incomprehensible that India which represents almost one-sixth of world’s population and has all credentials to be a permanent member of the Security Council, is still out of it,” Ms. Swaraj told editors who have travelled from dozens of African countries as well as local media, in remarks a day after PM Narendra Modi said India and Africa must speak in “one voice” on the issue.

India’s pitch for a UNSC seat is a clear focus as the leaders of about 41 nations including Egyptian President Abdul Fateh Al-Sisi, South African President Jacob Zuma , Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and Sudan President Omar Bashir fly into Delhi for the 3rd India-Africa Forum summit, that is held once every 3 years.

The acceptance this year, of all 54 African nations is the highest such attendance yet. In his meetings with the leaders Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be taking forward India’s campaign, although MEA officials only say the UNSC issue is “sure to feature” in the outcome document to be adopted by the leaders at the end of the summit this week. “Document negotiations only start on Monday, though” a senior official told The Hindu.

The summit will also be a chance for India to build bridges with the African Union members, who along with several developing nations form the G-77, or the group of 133 countries representing the “Global south”. Calling 2015 a “historic year” for South-South cooperation, Ms Swaraj referred to their cooperation during the finalization process of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for 2030. Recently, India had also been part of the G-77+China conference in Bonn, where the developing world had pushed for a more equitable document on climate change, accusing the rich nations or developed world of being unfair on the subject of climate finance.

The unity at the conference had led to a more expanded draft for the upcoming Paris COP21 conference that hopes to fix countries’ climate change commitments. India’s main plank for the UNSC campaign at present is with the G-4 nations (Japan, Germany, Brazil and India), but they support the inclusion of two African nations whenever the UN top body is expanded. The African Union is yet to decide on its criterion for the nomination. Speaking to Editors from African countries on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also underlined the need for UNSC reforms as a key challenge for India and Africa, saying that the present dispensation of the five permanent members and ten non-permanent ones was outdated and represented “world war two” realities.

“That is why we ask for reforms of the United Nations Security Council and global financial institutions. India and Africa, constituting one-third of the global population, must continue to speak in one voice for these reforms,” he told the visiting Editors in Delhi.