Why Nigeria Deserves a Permanent Seat at UN Security Council

The high level panel set up by the United Nations Secretary General, submitted its reports in which it recommended for consideration, two models for the reform and expansion of the UN Security Council.

Two permanent and four none permanent seats were proposed for the African region in Model A, while in Model B, the proposal was for two four year renewable seat and four two year non renewable seat for Africa. There is a growing consensus that Model A is widely preferred by Africans.

Accordingly, Nigeria has declared interest in one of the two permanent seats meant for Africa. Nigeria is very qualified for this seat, in terms of population; one in every four Africans is a Nigerian. Nigeria is Africa’s most prominent and consistent defenders of African liberation.

Nigeria has shown willingness and capacity to assume responsibilities in finding solution to regional and global problems, and in the promotion of the political, social and economic well-being of other groups outside its borders.

Nigeria has played a great role in the peacekeeping and peacemaking effort of the United Nations, OAU now AU and ECOWAS over the past four decades. Nigeria has also contributed more than any other African countries, both in men and material, towards ensuring regional and global peace.

The role of Nigeria in the resolution of the Liberian and Sierra Leonean crisis have led to the redefinition of the UN traditional conflict resolution methodologies since the mid 1990s.

The United Nations Secretary General has argued that members of the Security Council should be those nations which “contribute more financially, militarily and diplomatically to the United Nations; participate in mandated peace operation and contribute to the voluntary activities of the United Nations in the area of security and development and diplomatic activities of United Nations objectives and mandates”.

Speakers at the sensitization colloquium on UN reform agreed that Nigeria has met the criteria defined by the high level panel for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council. Africa deserves to have Nigeria as one of its two permanent members on a reformed security council.

UNITED NATION SECURITY COUNCIL

The Security Council is the most powerful body in the United Nations. It is responsible for maintaining international peace and for restoring peace when conflict arises. Its decisions are binding on all UN members and have the force of international law.

The Security Council has the power to define what threat to security is, and to determine how the UN should respond and to enforce its decision by ordering UN members to take certain actions.

For instance, the council may impose economic sanctions, such as halting trade with a country it considers an aggressor. The council convenes any time there is a threat to peace.

A representative from each member nations who sit on the Security Council must be available at all times so that the council can meet at a moment notice. The Security Council also frequently meets at the request of a UN member, often a nation with grievances about other nation actions.

The Security Council has 15 members, 5 of which hold permanent seats. The General Assembly elects the other 10 members for rotating two year terms. The 5 permanent members – the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China have the most power.

These nations were the winning powers at the end of World War 2, and they still represent the bulk of the world military might. The decision of the council requires nine votes. But any one of the permanent members can veto an important decision.

This authority is known as the veto right of the great powers. As a result, the council is effective only when its permanent members can reach a consensus.

The council has a variety of ways it can try to resolve conflict between countries. Usually the council first step is to encourage the countries to settle their disagreement without violence. The council can mediate a dispute or recommend guidelines for settlement. It can send peacekeeping troops into a distressed area.

If war breaks out, the council can call for ceasefire. It can enforce it decision by imposing economic sanctions on a country or by authorizing joint military actions. 

In recent years, there has been growing controversy over which country should have permanent seat on the council. Some nations believe that other countries beside the original five should be included. For example, Japan and Germany are powerful countries that pay large membership dues and make substantial contributions to the UN, yet they do not have permanent seats.

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