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Africa counts


January 10th 2018

Africa counts. The twenty-five year old Nigerian pop star Davido is taking over several continents with his brand of ‘afrofusion’. African company Jumia is the first ‘unicorn’: a company worth over 1 billion dollars. Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry, may not produce as many films as the Indian Bollywood, but certainly is leaving Hollywood in the dust.

At the same time, the continent is rife with armed conflict and suffering from a global inferiority complex.

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, put it as follows in a recent issue of the magazine Jeune Afrique: “They are, in a sense, double victims of colonization. They are so poorly represented because the United Nations was founded prior to their independence. Africa deserves a guarantee of a fairer representation in the Security Council.”

As per usual, there are three African countries on the United States Security Council in 2018: Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, where a UN peacekeeping mission has just wrapped up and which is now relatively calm, and Equatorial Guinea. The latter is home to Teodoro Obiang, who came into power following a military coup in 1979, making him the longest-serving dictator in Africa.

Does Guterres have a point? With three seats on the council, the continent is not particularly underrepresented. Even so, the relations in the Security Council, what with five victors of the Second World War holding permanent seats and veto power, do reflect a different era. In this day and age it would make more sense to give Nigeria a permanent seat, given that it has almost 200 million inhabitants. Back in 1945, when the Security Council was founded, the country was still a British colony, however.

For the first time since 1999, the Netherlands gets to once again play in the Premier League of international diplomacy. We have had to fight hard to obtain this. Officially, a term is two years, but we’ve made a deal with Italy. The Italians’ finest hour was last year, and in 2018 it will be up to our Permanent Representative Karel van Oosterom.

What can we achieve on the Security Council? Fairer relations is not one of those things, since the countries with veto power also have a veto regarding the composition of the council. We may be able to help the Council modernize a little. We have got to play smart. We may not have a big army, but we will be able to help out on counter-terrorism, tackling cyber crime, and strengthening international law and order.

It happens to be Africa that benefits from small improvements in this field. The continent where the balance has always been tipped in the favour of crooks will develop into a breeding ground for creativity, progress and hope.

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