On Monday, 19 September 2022, images of Heads of Sovereign States on a coach to attend the late Queen Elizabeth’s funeral emerged and provoked a variety of reactions and debates surrounding the correctness of such treatment, while equally stirring up anger towards the Presidents for agreeing to attend the funeral in the first place.
Conversations ensued regarding two possible case scenarios. The first was that it would be a logistical nightmare to attend to each President’s security needs at the same time, ensuring they make it to the funeral on time, and the second was rather inclined to fundamental issues such as racism and pure disregard for the Heads of Sovereign States. While our leaders were on a bus to Fungurani [if you are yet to, we are judging you for not listening to Bacardi and encouraging you to do so expeditiously], it prompted the question of security as it pertained to their being on a coach. Together. At once. An unfortunate incident would have rendered many countries without executive heads, and thrown our continent into a serious kerfuffle.
Coincidentally, within the same week, during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, H.E Dr Hage Geingob called for the inclusion of Africa on the UN Security Council. These were his exact words: “I always say inclusivity spells harmony and exclusivity spells conflict. Africa is a continent of 1.2 billion citizens, and the exclusion of Africa from the Security Council is an injustice. For as long as the Council fails to reflect in stature and composition current global realities, it will not be able to adequately address global concerns. We, therefore, reiterate our call for the reform of the Security Council, in line with the Common African Position.” The UN Security Council is primarily responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, and comprises 15 member states, each with one vote. It is equally burdened with determining what is to be considered as a threat or an act of aggression. China, France, Russia, USA and the United Kingdom are all permanent members of the Security Council, while 10 non-permanent members serve on the Council for two-year terms. Although the overture to this article is seemingly predicated on state security services, it is merely a pretext to a discussion relating to peace and security. Overall. Simplistically, security can be defined as the state of being secure, that is free from danger. Peace is freedom from disturbance – tranquility. One can tell there is a correlation in the meanings of these two words, and some might consider them synonymous. In International Relations, peace is either negative or positive.
Negative peace refers to the absence of war and imminent danger, albeit it ignores the presence of other adverse factors such as hunger, lack of access to proper healthcare and education, prevailing gender-based violence and generally, a low standard of living. Positive peace, on the other hand, does not only refer to the absence of direct violence such as conflict, but equally so the existence of social systems that are responsive to the needs of people. President Geingob rightfully expressed this in his speech by indicating that peace is more than the absence of war; that it is about inclusivity, and the development of all nations. The UN Security Council has faced criticism over the years for having permanent membership that is not a reflection of the world, and one that grossly under-represents developing countries like Namibia.
A call to reforming the UN Security Council is fundamental as it could potentially answer the question that probes the importance of international organisations such as the United Nations. It would not only change the way international politics is organised, it would grant us an opportunity as Africans to have direct influence on how matters relating to peace and security are responded to by the rest of the world. And we have quite the peace and security problem on the continent. It was a call that required boldness to make, and one which demonstrates that Namibia means business. More so because we have the chairmanship of the SADC Organ Troika, which further indicates our commitment as a country to promoting peace and stability across the southern Region. Fellow Namibians, here is your weekly reminder and reason to be a proud Namibian. *Esther Shakela studied Public Management (Political Science) at the University of Namibia.