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Category Archives: United Nations

The 23rd Ordinary Summit of Heads of States and Governments of the African Union and African Monetary Fund exaggerated ambition, by Chofor Che, 7 July 2014


The 23rd Ordinary Summit of Heads of States and Governments of the African Union (AU) ended on Friday the 28th of June 2014 after two days of discussions in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. In attendance were the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Ban Ki-moon, the Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy and the Vice President of Cuba, Salvador Valdes Mesa.

The official theme of this summit was “Agriculture and Food Security in Africa”, but according to Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari, a Senior Research Fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs in an op-ed dated the 26 of June 2014, few if any of the decisions during the summit focused on farming or food. He added that this is evidence that summit themes are merely symbolic and are hardly followed by intensive discussions around the subject matter. This notwithstanding, certain sources argue that the 23rd Summit is historic because at the end of deliberations, though much did not focus on farming and food, a gigantic step was made towards the financial autonomy of Africa as a continent with the adoption of the Establishing Protocol and Statutes of the African Monetary Fund (AMF) one of the AU’s Financial institutions.

Founded in 2009, the AMF has as aim to contribute to the economic stability and the management of financial crisis in Africa, giving preference to macroeconomic development and business by promoting trade amongst states in Africa. It is expected to create a common market amongst African states by 2017. Having its sit based in Yaoundé, the political capital of Cameroon, this institution is supposed to forge for a single African currency in a bid to encourage rapid regional economic integration which for the moment remains a dilemma especially with the numerous currencies on the continent. Some analysts even argue that the multitude of currencies on the continent has grossly weakened business between African states.

The putting in place of the Establishing Protocol and Statutes of the AMF arrived at in Malabo on Friday the 28th of June 2014, does not in any way mean that the African continent will suddenly become financially independent. 15 African states need to ratify the statues for the institution to go operational. An organigram for the institution needs to be set up before the recruitment of staff including a Director General.

This is indeed an ambitious agenda my Heads of State who have decided to put the cart before the horse. Many African states are still plagued by precarious financial hurdles such as heavy taxes, trade barriers and corruption. In addition to these hurdles, the Central African Republic remains mired in armed and bloody conflict, Nigeria remains tortured by the activities of the notorious Boko Haram Sect and Kenya is still seeking solutions to the Al Shabab dilemma.

In addition to the various hurdles faced by various states on the continent, Africa is still not a force to reckon with in the United Nations (UN) Security Council. Hengari in his op-ed argues that in light of a meeting which took place in May 2014, UN Security Council reform agenda in the AU remains stalled due to the rigid proposals which propped up from the Ezulwini Consensus. Hengari argues further that concerning the current institutional setup, the AU remains state-centric. While the AU accepts regional economic communities as vital building blocks in regional integration, there is no serious formal institutional rendez-vous with the assembly or the commission.

It is high time for states to resolve domestic issues like barriers to trade, over taxation and corruption. African states need to open up their boarders for trade and not close up boarders under the pretext of fighting illegal immigration just as what has been transpiring between Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and Gabon.

It is germane for Heads of State to try and resolve the ongoing conflicts on the continent including terrorists’ attacks from groups like Boko Haram and Al Shabab. It is important for the AU to equally engage heads of communities and officials within the frame work of the commission and assembly, especially in conflict resolution and regional integration.

Considering these suggestions is germane for the AU. If such proposals are not taken seriously then the AMF dream may be another waste of time and Africa’s tax payers’ money.

 

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Rethinking participatory and decentralized rural development in Cameroon, By Chofor Che, 29 December 2013


On the 16th of December 2013, the Government of Cameroon and the African Development Bank (ADB) signed the second phase of the loan agreement termed the Grass field Participatory and Decentralized Rural Development Project (GP DERUDEP). According to the ADB, farmers of the North West region (NWR) of Cameroon are to adequately benefit from this loan. The total amount of the project is estimated at UA 25.600 million. The Government of Cameroon is expected to provide the remaining UA 8.80 million. As a continuation of phase one of the project from 2005 to 2011, it is expected that phase two will be carried out in areas of the NWR with strong production potential like Widikum, a sub division with a growing potential of palm oil production. Apparently phase two of the project is to affect 8 out of the 36 municipal council areas of the NWR. It is hoped that phase two of GP DERUDEP will improve on agricultural production especially the rehabilitation and construction of farm to market roads in the NWR.

The putting into place of phase two of GP DERUDEP has created mixed reactions in the state of Cameroon. Many are optimistic about the success of the project while a lot of Cameroonians home and abroad remain pessimistic about the project. During the weekly broadcast of Cameroon Calling, a prominent programme on political and economic developments in Cameroon on Cameroon’s Radio and Television Coporation (CRTV) on the 29th of December 2013, the coordinator of GP DERUDEP confessed that the State of Cameroon planned to also involve some isolated municipal council areas that were not involved during the first phase of this project; but the ADB imposed a road map for the realization of phase two of this project. All the same he added that concerned municipal councils will be involved as partners in the project especially as they will be called upon to also contribute some small amount of funding towards the effective realization of phase two of the project.

As a keen analyst especially on issues of decentralized development on the continent and in Cameroon in particular, in as much as the intentions of the ADB may be well founded, the impact of GP DERUDEP may not adequately address the concerns of the population of the NWR. First of all several inhabitants contend that several activities earmarked under phase one of this project were not well executed due to lack of technical expertise. Others claim that a lot of money apportioned under phase one of the grant has been siphoned by corrupt government officials.

Financial aid has never been a sustainable panacea for development in Africa. ADB loans and grants as well as financial assistance from other donor organizations have not adequately addressed poverty and development on the continent. Proof of this is that the United Nations (UN) is presently worried about the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on the continent by 2015 because financial assistance has proven to be inadequate for development of the continent. Rather than signing loan agreements, which will only enrich few corrupt officials, empowering municipal councils may be the way to go. Municipal councils definitely need to be given substantial administrative and financial autonomy so as to take charge of rural development. The country does not have an adequate financial equalization formula, which can curb the imbalance between rich and poor municipal council areas. A council like the Widikum Council in the NWR could benefit from training of appointed and elected staff on the conception and the management of rural projects especially in the production of palm oil. This municipal council as well as other municipal councils in the country could also reinforce the role of women in top management of their council areas. Job creation for youth and women should be a priority of such partnerships between international organizations, central governments and municipal councils. Cameroon is blessed with rich natural and human resources and does not have to rely so much on financial assistance from international donors. If only the state could take some of these suggestions into account rather than depend on foreign aid then the state would realize some improvement in participatory and decentralized rural development.

 

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Africa’s renaissance necessitates a permanent seat on the United Nation’s Security Council, by Chofor Che, 11 June 2013


There has been much talk about the reform of the United Nations (UN), particularly its Security Council. There has also been a lot of advocacy on Africa’s demand for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Most of the advocacy has focused on the jostling for permanent seats on the UN Security Council by a plethora of states, with Africa’s demand portrayed as an afterthought. Africa has demanded time and again a permanent seat on the UN Security Council to enable it to effectively contribute to the peacekeeping and conflict resolutions of the UN Security Council, whose agenda is dominated by African issues.

Reform of the United Nations Security Council includes five major issues: regional representation, the question of the veto held by the five permanent members, categories of membership, the size of an enlarged Council and its working methods, and the Security Council-General Assembly relationship.

The reform of the UN Security Council necessitates the agreement of at least two-thirds of UN member states and that of all the permanent members of the UN Security Council enjoying the veto right. Even though the geopolitical realities have changed drastically since 1945, when the set-up of the current Council was decided, the Security Council has changed very little during this long period. The winners of Second World War shaped the UN Charter in their national interests, dividing the veto-power amongst themselves. The imbalance between the number of seats on the UN Security Council and the total number of member States became evident and the only significant reform of the Security Council took place in 1965 after the ratification of two thirds of the membership, including the five permanent members of the Security Council. The reform included an increase of the non-permanent membership from six to 10 members. In all of these reforms, Africa was not given a major say in affairs of the UN Security Council, nor a permanent seat.

Out of the 193 members of the UN, Africa has 54 states, making it the continent with the greatest number of UN member states. Presently the UN Security Council is made up of five permanent members; the United States of America, France, China, Russia and the United Kingdom. The UN Security Council is also composed of 10 non-permanent members, including Togo, South Africa and Morocco from Africa. The non-permanent seats are on a two-year regional rotation basis.

The UN Charter therefore has impartial criteria for the selection of UN Security Council permanent members. The processes that Africa should undertake to secure permanent membership on the UN Security Council and the criteria to be used in selecting its permanent representatives in the UN Security Council, remains wanting.

In September 2012, President Michael Sata of Zambia, addressing the UN General Assembly in New York, urged Africans to put more pressure for a permanent seat on the UN. In May 2013, another African President, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe also said it was high time Africa had a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

President Sata’s statement was in line with the Committee of 10 (C10). The C10 is an African Union (AU) creation advocating for Africa to have two permanent seats on the UN Security Council with veto powers and additionally, two non-permanent seats to look into the historical injustices that Africa suffered and to keep abreast with the geo-political realities of the modern times.

Most of the UN’s peacekeeping activities in the world are concentrated on the continent, which warrants the continent to have a firm say on how peace keeping operations are carried out on the continent. A lot of African countries like South Africa, Nigeria and Tunisia qualify to seat on the UN Security Council. South Africa for instance is the economic giant of Africa. Nigeria is also an economic giant and attracts major oil companies, despite the much talk about conflict and insecurity.

The continent should not only be a hub for land grabbing and economic exploitation. There is need to equally give Africa the chance to decide on major global issues especially affecting their well being. Africa’s renaissance is a reality, there is no turning back. To solidify and hasten this renaissance, it is germane for Africa to have a say in the making of major international decisions. Africa should be able to decide on major missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, rather than allow certain UN Security members, who may have certain economic interests in this country, decide on the lives of Africans. There is need to give Africa a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and the time is now.

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2013 in United Nations

 

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