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Is Obama Warming to a Permanent U.N. Security Council Seat for Africa?

Will Africa finally get a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council during the Obama administration? James Warlick, acting assistant Secretary in the State Department's Bureau of International Organization Affairs told the Foreign Press Center in Washington last week that the clamor for a permanent Security Council seat for Africa was a legitimate concern.

In a question and answer session, Warlick reportedly said while the U.S. has not taken a position on whether Africa should get a permanent seat, there was no question Africa needed to have a voice in the Security Council.

Kabiru Mato, chief of the political science department at Nigeria's University of Abuja told VOA that democratizing the Security Council to involve Africa would be a welcome development giving the continent's immensity.

"I think (a permanent seat for Africa) is possible only to the extent that the United Nations itself continues to remain relevant in international politics, and the relevance of the organization in international politics, I think, must be understood from the perspective of the efficacy of decisions that the council normally takes. Not the United Nations organization that we have seen in the recent which basically has become a toothless bulldog where one or two superpowers within the Security Council may decide to behave unilaterally as America has behaved in Iraq in 1991," he said.

Mato said Africa will benefit significantly from a permanent seat on the Security Council.

"Africa is the only continent that does not have a membership in the United Nations Security Council, that is permanently, and the real benefit of course would be that an African member of the Security Council will have a veto power. Apart from the veto power will have also leverage to participate in the very sensitive decisions that are taken by permanent members of the Security Council," Mato said.

He said democratizing the United Security Council involving Africa is a welcoming development, and Mato said the Obama administration has a serious challenge in retaining the sanctity of the United Nations Security Council.

Mato said the International Criminal Court would not have been able to issue an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir had Africa been on the U.N. Security Council.

"I really think an African membership on the Security Council would have frowned at that because the position of the African Union as far as the arrest warrant is concerned is that it is illegitimate, and that it simply explains the nature of double standard that international capitalism apparently subjects to other countries that are economically less advantageous to them," Mato said.

He said the International Criminal Court (ICC) cannot enforce an arrest warrant against Sudan because just like the United States, Sudan is not a member of the ICC.