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UN Secretary General refutes tension between Africa and the UN

UN Secretary General refutes tension between Africa and the UN thumbnail

The UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon on Monday convincingly refuted speculations of increased tension between the United Nations and Africa over what some observers call the slow pace of UN Security Council reforms and the lack of consensus on resolving the dispute regarding the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Kenya’s trials.  (Photo: UN SEC-GEN Mr. Ban Ki-moon traditional end of year Press Conference 2013 at UN Headquarters in New York)

Mr. Ban made the refutation during the traditional end of year press conference at the UN Headquarters in New York.

“First of all, I would not agree to your generalization of tension between Africa and the United Nations.  I make it quite clear that Africa is a number-one priority for the United Nations.  We are maintaining a very, very good partnership with the African Union.  So, you will not be able to see such a strong partnership, which has been maintained between the UN and the African Union.  Of course, there are some cases when we may have a difference of opinion between the United Nations, any specific cases.  So, characterizing it as tension between the AU (African Union) and the United Nations may not be appropriate,” said Mr. Ban responding to a reporter.

Mr. Ban also said he was deeply concerned at the beginning of this crisis that there may be some conflict between some African countries and the ICC.  Nonetheless, he said was later encouraged that the “African Union leaders have taken very prudent and wise decisions not to take any such premature decisions.  When they call for an extraordinary summit to deal with the Kenyan President and Vice President case, vis-à-vis the ICC, they all gathered and they took very practical decisions.”

Media representatives at UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon traditional end of year Press Conference

Media representatives at UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon traditional end of year Press Conference

The UN Chief highlighted what he calls quite a good solution of the decision of the Assembly of States Parties of the Rome Statute to amend some rules of procedure, where very high responsible persons with extraordinary national political and security responsibilities may not necessarily be physically present at the time of a hearing but can participate via video conferencing.

Though Mr. Ban said he continues to talk with member states about United Nations reform process, stressing two other pillars of management reform including partnerships and mobility, he did not mention the UN Security Council reforms.

Responding to an inquiry on the possibility for the International Court of Justice to intervene or mediate on behalf of the General Assembly over the deferral request regarding the Kenyan appeal and if there is any discussion scheduled by the General Assembly on Security Council reform?  Fanny Langella Deputy Spokesperson/Deputy Speechwriter, Office of the President of the General Assembly released the following statement via email Tuesday afternoon:

In reference to your first question: deferral of prosecution is a matter that falls under article 16 of the Rome Statute. http://www.icc-cpi.int/nr/rdonlyres/ea9aeff7-5752-4f84-be94-0a655eb30e16/0/rome_statute_english.pdf Please see press release issued on 15 November 2013 on the Security Council vote on the resolution seeking the deferral: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2013/sc11176.doc.htm

Regarding your second question: The GA held a meeting on Security Council reform on 8 November. You can find a summary of the meeting here: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2013/ga11451.doc.htm the intergovernmental negotiations have resumed on 12 and 16 December and are chaired by Ambassador Zahir Tanin. He will announce in the new year what will be the next steps.

Meantime, the African Union (AU) maintains that Africa’s goal must be full representation in all the decision- making organs of the UN, with two permanent seats with veto power particularly in the Security Council, which is the principal decision-making organ of the UN in matters relating to international peace and security.

In addition, the AU said it should be responsible for the selection of Africa’s representatives in the Security Council.

By Dennis Kabatto

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