German, French Ministers Call for African Permanent Seats on UNSC

The foreign ministers of France and Germany have voiced support for Africa to receive two permanent seats on the powerful U.N. Security Council.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said she and French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna added their support to an African push for permanent seats on the Security Council.

Baerbock spoke after she and Colonna met with African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.

“As European partners and I, as a German foreign minister, we see that the world in 2023 is not the same than that after World War Two, and therefore we are supporting two permanent seats for the African continent,” Baerbock said. 

African leaders have for years called for a permanent seat on the powerful U.N. body.

Outgoing African Union Chairman Macky Sall, also the president of Senegal, reiterated that demand at the September U.N. General Assembly.

He said Africa should also have a seat in the G-20 group of the world’s largest economies.

U.S. President Joe Biden backed both efforts at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington last month.

Currently, the Security Council has five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States. Other countries are elected to the Council for two-year terms by the U.N. General Assembly.

Having permanent seats on the Security Council would for the first time give African countries veto power over U.N. resolutions.

Meanwhile, Baerbock said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine underscored the importance of relations between the European Union and the African Union.

“As Russia is attacking the European peace order this needs more support from our friends,” Baerbock said. “We need you and we need Africa in defending our European peace order.”

Baerbock on Thursday made a visit to a World Food Program warehouse storing donated Ukrainian grain and condemned Moscow for using food as a weapon of war.

She was referring to Russian forces blocking some Ukrainian grain exports as the Horn of Africa suffers through a record drought that has tens of millions struggling with hunger.

The two foreign ministers also met with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Thursday and called for accountability for atrocities committed during the war in the northern Tigray region.

Rights groups accuse all sides of committing rapes, torture, and extra-judicial killings during the two-year war.

The EU suspended some support for Ethiopia over the abuses and says accountability in the war is a condition for normalizing relations.

French Foreign Minister Colonna’s visit will include a grant of about 30 million U.S. dollars to aid people affected by the war.

The foreign ministers are in Addis to support a November peace deal between Ethiopia’s federal government and Tigray authorities.

Since the agreement, Ethiopia has restored the flow of humanitarian aid and some basic services to Tigray, while Eritrea has withdrawn its forces from parts of the region.

On Tuesday, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front began turning over heavy weapons to the Ethiopian army.   

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