United Nations

  1. Africa deserves permanent security council seat - UN chief

    Ishaq Khalid

    BBC News, Abuja

    Permanent Representative of United States to the United Nations (UN) Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks during the Security Council meeting in February.
    Image caption: At present there are five permanent members - the US, UK, Russia, China and France

    UN chief António Guterres has expressed his support for an African country to be given a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

    "It's entirely fair to recognise that there should be a permanent member of the security council from the African continent," Mr Guterres said in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, at the end of his tour of West Africa.

    He acknowledged that Africa was underrepresented in most international institutions including the UN Security Council, saying the continent is a "double victim of colonialism".

    The UN chief said reform of the security council was essential to reforming the UN as a whole.

    But the head of the global body said it was up to UN member states to deal with the matter saying he does not have the authority to decide alone.

    The UN Security Council currently has five permanent members - the US, the UK, Russia, France and China - with each having veto powers on any issue presented at the council.

    It’s one of the principal organs of the UN with the responsibility of ensuring international peace and security, as well as approving changes to the UN Charter and admitting new member states.

    Over the years, there have been growing calls for the council to be expanded to include permanent representation from Africa to meet the reality of the changing world.

    Africa has three non-permanent seats on the council, which are currently held by Gabon, Ghana and Kenya.

  2. UN chief hits out at UK-Rwanda deal and vaccines

    UN chief António Guterres has told the BBC he does not support the UK’s plan of giving asylum seekers a one-way ticket to Rwanda - something also being considered by Denmark.

    He told BBC Focus on Africa radio presenter Paul Bakibinga:

    Quote Message: I do believe that Europe has responsibilities in relation to asylum that are in the core of European values and European tradition and are by the way the fifth UN convention, which is part of international law.
    Quote Message: I was never a supporter of outsourcing the protection of refugees and especially to do it to a much poorer country, where the [prospect] of integration and of a future are of course much less hopeful."

    The UN secretary general gave the interview at the end of his three-nation tour of West Africa, visiting Senegal, Niger and Nigeria. He pointed out that Africa was the continent that was suffering most in the aftermath of coronavirus and now the war in Ukraine.

    Quote Message: Let’s not forget that Africa was the continent that was growing fastest in the world in the 10 years that proceeded those crises. Then came the Covid - and Africa practically didn’t get any vaccines.
    Quote Message: This is one of the most immoral sources of inequality that I have witnessed in my life."

    He hit out over the fact that Africa was given no debt reduction to help it recover from the pandemic.

    Quote Message: There was debt suspension for least-developed countries. Nigeria… and Senegal… they have not the rights to have even debt suspension because they are considered to be middle-income countries."

    With dramatic price rises on food, fertiliser and energy because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mr Guterres said there were areas of the continent where people were in danger of starving.

    Quote Message: Many of the countries have no fiscal space to buy what is needed to support the population - and we risk to have famine in several parts of Africa if this is not properly addressed."

    He said this was why the UN had just launched The Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance (GCRG) to support such nations.

    Quote Message: We are totally committed to support African countries and to advocate for justice to be made to African countries, in order to be able to find the resources necessary to overcome these dramatic acceleration of a crisis they are already facing."

    Listen to the full interview, which also includes the UN chief's optimistic outlook for Borno state in north-eastern Nigeria where an Islamist insurgency has raged since 2009:

    Video content

    Video caption: UN Secretary General António Guterres was on a three-nation tour of West Africa
  3. Guterres lays wreath for UN victims of suicide bomb

    Ishaq Khalid

    BBC News, Abuja

    Site of the bomb blast at the UN's HQ in Abuja, Nigeria - August 2011
    Image caption: The Boko Haram blast at the UN's HQ in Abuja in 2011 killed 24 people

    UN boss António Guterres has a laid a wreath at the global body’s main office in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, to honour those who died when a suicide bomber targeted the building in 2011.

    At least 24 people were killed and dozens of others wounded in the car bomb attack by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, drawing international outrage and condemnation.

    The victims included many UN staff.

    The Nigerian government later rebuilt the devastated building, known as UN House - where all UN agencies working in Nigeria have their offices.

    The UN chief held a closed-door meeting with UN staff and is now meeting Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and other senior government officials at the presidential palace.

    On Tuesday, Mr Guterres was in the north-eastern state of Borno, where UN agencies and humanitarian groups have been helping thousands of families who have fled attacks by Boko Haram insurgents.

    UN boss António Guterres in a Nigerian hat in Borno state - 3 May 2022
    Image caption: António Guterres, donning a new hat, visited Borno state on Tuesday to meet those affected by the insurgency

    He also met former members of the extremist group at a de-radicalisation camp, where he called for more investment to improve people’s lives as a way to tackle the “enormous” challenges facing the region.

    The UN says the Boko Haram insurgency, which began in 2009, has caused the death of nearly 350,000 people and pushed millions more from their homes in Nigeria and the neighbouring countries of Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

  4. Video content

    Video caption: Ukraine conflict: UN Security Council failed, says secretary general

    Speaking at a news conference with Volodymyr Zelensky, the UN secretary general said Russia's invasion violated the UN charter.

  5. Africa ambivalent on Russia's HRC suspension

    A boy reading messages against the war in Ukraine
    Image caption: Before the vote, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN accused Russia of “horrific” abuses

    The UN General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from its Human Rights Council (HRC) on Thursday following allegations of war crimes by Kremlin troops in Ukraine - but African diplomats did not widely back the move.

    Compared to the vote on the resolution to condemn the invasion that was held in early March, more African countries abstained and voted against the decision this time.

    Out of 54 nations on the continent, 24 abstained, including Angola, Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa.

    Nine voted against the move, including Algeria and Ethiopia, which have both had historically good relations with Moscow. Another 11 had no vote recorded.

    Only 10 countries backed the suspension of Russian from the 47-member HRC. These were Chad, Comoros, the Democratic republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Libya, Malawi and Seychelles.

    So why is Africa seemingly staying on the fence or backing Russia?

    Comments from South Africa, the continent's largest economy that has abstained twice from voting against Moscow at the general assembly, explain some of the ambivalence.

    "The conflict has exposed the inability of the UN Security Council to fulfil its mandate of maintaining international peace and security," AFP quoted South African President Cyril Ramaphosa as saying on Thursday.

    He said that the membership of the UN Security Council, which has five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the UK and the US), was "outdated and unrepresentative".

    South Africa's Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor also defended her country's non-aligned stance, saying the conflict had shown "the glaring double standards of the international community".

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  6. Video content

    Video caption: Ukraine war: Many more cities like Bucha says President Zelensky

    Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the UN Security Council for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine.