By Mustapha Darboe
Japan said Thursday that it will support calls by Africa – and Turkey – for UN Security Council reform when it takes the council's helm next month.
Masakazu Hamachi, the Japanese parliament’s vice-minister for foreign affairs, made the remarks in Gambia, at the opening session of the preparatory ministerial meeting of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD).
The ministerial meeting which started in Banjul today was held in preparation for the first-ever TICAD conference to be held in Africa in Nairobi, Kenya in August.
Outspoken African leaders like Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia have always advocated permanent seats for African countries in the powerful 15-member UN body, which has only China, France, Russia, Britain, and the United States as its permanent members.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also pushed for a more inclusive Security Council.
Jammeh last year told the UN general assembly that “African Nations represent over 1 billion people in this body and constitute 54 sovereign states and countries here, making her ever-more qualified for the allocation of the two permanent seats and two non-permanent seats Africa rightly deserves”.
Speaking on behalf of Japan’s government, Hamachi said, “In July, Japan will assume the presidency of the UN Security Council and will convene an open debate on ‘Peacebuilding in Africa’. The partnership with Africa we have built through TICAD will be further reinforced in our efforts on promoting peace and stability in the region, as well as other global issues including Security Council reform”.
In a speech delivered on behalf of President Jammeh, Gambian Vice President Isatou Njie Saidy hailed the first TICAD conference to be held in Africa as a “major milestone,” adding that Africa must have a say in the direction of whatever partnership it might have with any development partner.
“Africa is rising; Africa is growing; and Africa is also transforming itself despite the daunting challenges that it continues to encounter. Our continent is resilient and we must continue insisting that if a partnership is about us then we must equally be drivers of the process,” Njie said.
“Africa’s Agenda 2063 and its First Ten-year Implementation Plan must be a major inspiration for the outcomes of our engagement with partners from now on,” he added.
The forum, which ends tomorrow, is expected to deliberate upon the draft Nairobi declaration which focuses on “economic transformation, diversification and industrialization; building resilient health systems in Africa and social stability”, said Gambian Foreign Minister Neneh MacDouall-Gaye.
Japan’s Masakazu Hamachi also revealed that over 100 Japanese companies are expected to participate in TICAD VI.
“It is my firm belief that their insights and technologies will be of great value to deepen the discussions on the priority areas of TICAD VI, namely, industrialization, health and social stability,” Hamachi said.
The forum was organized by Government of Gambia, in collaboration with Japan, United Nations office of special adviser on Africa, UNDP, World Bank and the African Union
TICAD development initiative for Africa was launched in 1993 by Japan with the aim of promoting African development including peace and security through international and bilateral cooperation with African countries.
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