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African leaders say UN Security Council must be reformed to include voice of their continent

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NEW YORK, NY – The Vice-President of Angola, Manuel Domingos Vicente, was the first of several African leaders to address the United Nations General Assembly today, spotlighting, among other issues, t

NEW YORK, NY – The Vice-President of Angola, Manuel Domingos Vicente, was the first of several African leaders to address the United Nations General Assembly today, spotlighting, among other issues, the possibility of Security Council reform and the growing threat of terrorism.

Noting that this year’s General Debate comes as the Organization marks its 70th anniversary of the UN, Mr. Vicente said the occasion should provide an additional incentive to accelerate reforms aimed at revitalizing the United Nations system.

Such efforts could aim to reform the Security Council by extending the number of its permanent and non-permanent members, “thus making the body more representative and better equipped to address the challenges and opportunities that the world faces.” He added that Angola reaffirms the right of the African continent to be represented among the Council’s permanent members.

Turning to the rise of terrorist activities perpetrated by extremist groups in Africa and elsewhere in the world, he called the scourge a serious security issue that required a global coalition to combat. He also referred to the creation of the Task Force of the Lake Chad Basin Countries and Benin to combat terrorism in Africa, noting it that the coalition deserved the support of the international community.

As for the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR), Mr. Vicente said that Angola supported the efforts of the transitional government to “restore public order and restructure State institutions.”

He said that he welcomed the recent compromise reached between the Government of South Sudan and the armed opposition, and said of Guinea-Bissau that, with its institutional crisis over, political developments indicate economic growth and political stabilization.

Turning his attention to climate change, he said the upcoming agreement in Paris “should include a commitment to limit the increase in average global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.”

Meanwhile, in his remarks, the Prime Minister of Cabo Verde, José Maria Pereira Neves, also noted the need to come to an understanding on enlargement of the Security Council’s membership, “which in our view should reflect the changes that have occurred in the world, with a more equitable and appropriate representation.”

Referring to Cabo Verde regarding its status as a small island developing State (SIDS), he noted with concern threats to the survival of SIDS including climate change, their vulnerability to natural disasters, the risks of loss of biodiversity, the high costs of transport and energy, and other issues, noting that for these reasons they deserve special attention from the UN system in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Speaking on the subject of terrorism, Mr. Pereira Neves urged the international community to increase its efforts to combat extremism in all forms and expressions. “We firmly condemn all forms of terrorism and, in particular, the barbaric actions of extremist groups in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa,” he underscored.

In his remarks, the Prime Minister of Lesotho, Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili, spoke of the ongoing violence in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and parts of Africa from the Sahel to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“Sadly, the human origin of many of these problems cannot be doubted,” he said. “The refugee problem facing Europe today, will test the limits of the continent’s resolve and generosity.”
Turning his attention to the problem of terrorism, Mr. Mosisili noted that it had become “more brazen and lethal than before.”

“Terrorist networks are expanding across Africa, the Middle East and Asia,” he continued. “Even as we remain vigilant against the threat of terrorism, we must move beyond a mindset that this menace can be defeated by force of arms alone. We may strike blows against terrorist networks, but if we ignore the fact that political instability and religious and other forms of intolerance fuel extremism, our efforts to root out this menace will be futile.”

He also raised the issue of UN Security Council reform, saying that the call for the Council to be more transparent, inclusive and democratic needs to be echoed with even more vigour and clarity. “A Security Council, that has the voice of Africa and other marginalized regions in the Permanent Category, will increasingly acquire legitimacy and unconditional acceptance of its decisions.”