- President Cyril Ramaphosa is due to address the UN General Assembly on its first day on Tuesday.
- The UN Security Council will be urged to look at Mali, Sudan and South Sudan as critical conflict hotspots.
- China and Russian leaders will skip the UNGA78 just like they did the G20, but Africa can hope to be taken more seriously than in previous years.
The 78th annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) starts in New York this week, and African heads of state and their senior government officials will be prominent, perhaps more so than ever before.
President Cyril Ramaphosa will be the first African head of state to address a gathering at UNGA 78 on Tuesday, and other African leaders that will address key side events are Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi, Nigeria’s Bola Tinubu, and Kenya’s President William Ruto.
This year’s big meet, running for a week, adopted the theme “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: Accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress, and sustainability for all”.
The African contingent, which comprises more than 40 heads of state, started arriving in New York during the weekend.
They are attending UNGA78 at a time when their voices in international affairs have never been taken more seriously.
Almost two weeks ago, Africa was admitted under the African Union (AU) into the G20 – a group of countries that arguably dominates global economics and politics.
Africa will seek to be heard on issues such as climate change, debt, failure to meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets, conflicts on the continent and outside, global health architecture, the impact of the war in Ukraine on food security, and poverty.
President Cyril Ramaphosa will be the first African head of state to address a gathering at UNGA 78 on Tuesday,
Geopolitical differences between the West and the East might dampen the spirit of global unity. Russia’s Vladimir Putin won’t be there, nor will his ally, China’s Xi Jinping.
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the UNGA78 will not be short of drama.
“As always, we can expect some grandstanding from presidents and prime ministers, keen to show audiences back home they are defending their interests abroad. Leaders of smaller nations will want to be seen with those of larger ones to try to increase their clout. There will be a few minor dramas, inevitable when bigwigs strut for the cameras,” the HRW said in a weekly brief.
The International Crisis Group (ICG) suggested that for Africa, Mali, Sudan, and South Sudan should be the main conflict areas that UNGA78 should address.
In Mali, the UN should “look for limited political openings after peacekeepers leave, but should not abandon Mali altogether”.
The UN Stabilisation Mission in Mali (Minusma) has occupied a lot of the UN Security Council’s policy discussion for most of 2023.
UN officials were at loggerheads with the military government in Bamako over human rights abuses by Malian forces and Russia’s paramilitary outfit, the Wagner Group.
The UNSC weighed its options to either strengthen or downsize Minusma, but Bamako demanded its withdrawal.
For Sudan, “the UNSC should speak up and weigh in behind efforts to end the fighting,” said the ICG in a statement.
But “finding a political foothold from which to help contain crises will be a tall order” because traditional methods such as peacekeeping have failed.
“As the geopolitical picture darkens, the UNSC has managed only lackluster responses to many of the crises of the last year.”
The ICG said:
It has done little more than make statements of concern on cases ranging from the collapse of Sudan in April to the coup in Niger in July.
In the case of South Sudan, ICG said, “The UN should decide whether to support the upcoming elections and how to prevent and mitigate any potential unrest.”
South Sudan President Salva Kiir is also at the UNGA28.
While there’s interest in his own country, where extreme weather is devastating the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people, he is set to unveil his vision for peace in Sudan while highlighting his personal commitment to end five months of the conflict that has displaced more than 5 million people.
The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.
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Publish date : 2023-09-18 17:26:19