On Thursday, the United Kingdom (UK)’s Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, voiced his country’s backing for a comprehensive reform of the United Nations Security Council, calling for Africa to be given a permanent seat. He suggested that such a move would more accurately represent the diversity and challenges of the 21st century.
Speaking at the renowned Chatham House in London, Cleverly said, “We envision a Security Council where Africa has a permanent representation, along with the inclusion of countries like India, Brazil, Germany, and Japan.”
He further added, “This indeed would be a radical reform, but it’s one that would ensure the Security Council evolves in step with the third decade of this century.”
The Security Council at present comprises 15 members. Five of these are permanent members with veto power: the United States, France, Russia, Great Britain, and China. The remaining ten members serve two-year terms.
Previously, US President Joe Biden also advocated for the expansion of the Security Council, suggesting it would allow Africa to have permanent representation and offer the African Union a place within the G20.
Cleverly emphasized the UK’s unwavering commitment to multilateralism, noting that his country was instrumental in establishing the Security Council. He added that the multilateral system needed to be more responsive and inclusive to address global challenges effectively.
Cleverly went on to say, “In my interactions with leaders from Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia, their recurring comments on the impression that the multilateral system often seems to prioritize Euro-Atlantic region’s issues have been notable.”
He expressed his belief that ensuring these leaders have a potent and consistent voice in tackling global challenges would be the optimal way to change this perception.
Developing nations have historically expressed concern over their lack of permanent representation, which they fear could render the UN Security Council ineffective. However, attempts to reform the institution, as per the 1945 United Nations Charter, have been unfruitful, largely due to scepticism over whether the five permanent members would be willing to relinquish or share their privileges.
In recent years, the Security Council’s effectiveness in tackling global challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, has seemingly diminished.