For Africa, the visit of the UN chief is cut short
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio visited Dakar, Senegal this week on his first trip to the African continent since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The ongoing impacts of the pandemic, including its multiplier effect on public health, the economy, conflict, climate action and political stability, have been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and the collective response to that conflict, a major theme of Guterres’ visit to West Africa.
During his three-country tour of Senegal, Niger and Nigeria, which started last weekend and ended on Wednesday, Guterres called on rich countries to increase their investments in African countries, at a time when the continent’s recovery from the pandemic has been upended by the rising cost of food, energy and other essentials due to the war in Ukraine.
“This war is aggravating a triple crisis: food, energy and finance, for the region and well beyond”, António Guterres before a Sunday Iftar dinner with Senegalese President Macky Sall, who is currently the rotating chair of the African Union. Guterres added that Africa’s food security challenges will not be resolved without “reintegrating agricultural production from Ukraine and food and fertilizer production from Russia and Belarus into global markets”, saying “determined to do everything to facilitate a dialogue that can help”. reach this goal. »
The global multilateral system – including organizations like the UN and the European Union as well as international institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund – has come under heavy criticism since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, in particular for the double standards displayed in the outpouring of international support and assistance to Ukraine which rarely welcomes crises in the Global South. For his part, António Guterres seems to be attentive to these criticisms of the international system and even echoed some of them in his own remarks. His visit to West Africa – where he called for bolder action by wealthier countries on vaccines, financial aid and reform, conflict prevention and climate action – is a recognition of the concerns expressed by African and Southern countries.
In April, António Guterres launched a new Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance to deal with the consequences of the war in Ukraine as well as the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on developing countries. The 32-member group is co-chaired by Sall and includes heads of UN agencies, development banks and international organizations. For his part, Sall lamented “the dramatic impact of the war on the economies of developing countries”.
Furthermore, António Guterres reiterated its previous calls for the reform of a global financial system he called it “morally bankrupt,” saying that all available mechanisms should be used to benefit low- and middle-income countries, especially African countries. During his visit to Senegal, he visited Diamniadio, a new town about 20 miles from Dakar where he saw an office building intended to house a new UN compound in the country. Guterres also stopped at a vaccine manufacturing plant at the Pasteur Institute in Dakar which will soon produce COVID-19 injections, where he called for equity in vaccines to help Africa recover. of the pandemic.
Again, Guterres condemned vaccine nationalism that has hampered African efforts to acquire the doses needed to vaccinate the continent’s estimated 1.4 billion people, calling it “unacceptable” that the majority of Africans have not yet been fully vaccinated. He called on rich countries and pharmaceutical majors to step up coronavirus vaccine donations and invest in vaccine production in Africa. The lack of local vaccine manufacturing on the continent has recently come to the fore again in light of reports that Africa’s first COVID-19 vaccination factory, located in South Africa, is at risk of closing after failing to receive a single command.
Guterres left Senegal on Monday, arriving the same day in Niger, where he was received by President Mohamed Bazoum, who awarded him the Grand Cross of the National Order of Niger. During the visit, it was announced that former Nigerien President Issoufou Mahamadou had accepted a request from Guterres and AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat to lead a AU-UN Joint Strategic Assessment on Security in the Sahel, focusing on better coordination of the international response to the security crisis in the Sahel. The assessment will be undertaken in consultation with the Economic Community of West African States and the Five Eyes.
Guterres concluded his trip with a two-day visit to Nigeria from Tuesday, where he met President Muhammadu Buhari and other senior Nigerian government officials. He also met with religious leaders and attended a wreath laying ceremony held at the United Nations compound in Abuja, in honor of the victims of a bomb attack on the building in 2011. António Guterres also visited Borno in northeastern Nigeria, where he visited internally displaced people and called for their safe return to their homes, while praising a UN-backed reintegration program for former Boko Haram fighters.
Guterres’ visit to West Africa at an important time in the region’s trajectory is a significant – albeit symbolic – step by the UN chief to assuage African leaders’ concerns that the continent’s priorities will yet pass. more in the background compared to Ukraine and other geopolitical problems. prioritized by the major powers, a notion Buhari alluded to when they met. But that will not erase doubts on the continent that Africans will be on their own in the event of an emergency that ostensibly calls for international cooperation.
Already there are reports that the large volume of humanitarian resources destined for Ukraine is diverted from other underfunded crises in Africa and elsewhere. The Sahel region continues to be one of the biggest humanitarian hotbeds in the world, with famine, displacement and armed violence now a way of life for millions of people in the region. The UN Security Council must decide whether it is appropriate renew the mandate of the Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, or MINUSMA, one of the largest UN peacekeeping operations. There are reports that the mission could be supplanted by an AU force backed by a stronger mandate, an idea that Guterres himself appears to support.
Whatever Guterres’ intentions, the limits placed on his office and the United Nations system largely restrict his ability to take action to address the disparities in the multilateral system that he himself denounces. Given this reality, it may be that the only role it can play in making the international system fairer is to be a leader of reforms, even if they are unlikely to materialize.
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Civil society monitoring
The second phase of a mobile biometric voter registration exercise in Zimbabwe by the country’s election management body was completed last week. The registration drive will help determine the number of registered voters in each province of Zimbabwe, which will then be used to map the country’s 210 National Assembly constituencies.
Despite the closing of the window for the second phase, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says voter registration will continue in all of its district and provincial offices nationwide.
The continuation of the biometric voter registration exercise at local ZEC offices follows calls from civil society groups and political parties in Zimbabwe for the ZEC to extend the deadline to allow more members of the public to register in time for the 2023 general election without traveling long distances. do this.
Afro-pop feel Burna Boy demolished the house in an extravagant two-hour performance last week at New York’s Madison Square Garden, becoming the first Nigerian to headline the famous venue. The music superstar sold out his highly anticipated ‘One Night in Space’ show, with many other fans tuning in to the performance via a YouTube live stream of the performance.
Grammy-nominated Burna Boy also invited Busta Rhymes and Senegalese music legend Youssou N’Dour on his set, to the approving tone of the MSG crowd.
During the show, Burna Boy revealed that his new album will be titled “Love, Damini”, which according to a press release will be released on July 2, the singer’s 31st birthday.
Top reads on the web
Wole Soyinka vs. Caroline Davis – The CIA Controversy. Adekeye Adebajo writes in the Johannesburg Review of Books about a book by Caroline Davis claiming that three famous African writers, including Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, enjoyed patronage from the Central Intelligence Agency. Although Adebajo concludes that the insinuations of Soyinka’s collusion with the CIA are unfounded, pointing to his longstanding opposition to US-backed regimes in Africa as well as the book royalties received from the Soviet Union. and his relationship with then-Cuban President Fidel Castro, he nevertheless writes that “this controversy is far from over”.
Do you remember #Kony2012? We still live in his offensive and outdated vision of Africa. Dipo Faloyin writes in The Guardian about the 10th anniversary of the viral Kony 2012 campaign by white American filmmakers who tried and failed to get the West to intervene in Uganda to capture Joseph Kony. The campaign immediately captured popular attention, but drew criticism for promoting what has been described as “white saviorism”. The leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, who has been accused of multiple human rights violations, remains at large.
Chris O. Ogunmodede is associate editor of World Politics Review. His coverage of African politics, international relations and security has appeared in War on The Rocks, Mail & Guardian, The Republic, Africa is a Country and other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @Illustrious_Cee.