Nigeria became a full member of the United Nations following its attainment of Nationhood in 1960. In the past one year, Nigeria has been very proactive in her response to many global developments that were brought to the floor of the United Nations. These developments included challenges of peace and security which the world body, in Particular the Security Council had to deal with.President Goodluck Jonathan attended the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which held in New York in September 2011. His address highlighted Nigeria’s concerns especially in the area of terrorism, on which he informed the world body of efforts of government in tackling the menace. He also shared Nigeria’s views on preventive diplomacy as an effective tool for the resolution of conflicts in various parts of the world, proposing the establishment of a Conflict Mediation Commission in this regard. The President was elected into the High Level Body on Maternal Newborn and Child Health. In addition, he also participated in other high level meetings including the meeting on non-communicable diseases as well as co-chairing the meeting on Desertificationand Land Degradation.
As regards gender issues within the UN, it is remarkable to note that Nigeria was also elected as the First President of the new body, the UN Women and also the co- chair of UN Commission for Women and Children’s Health.In June 2012, the UN Secretary-General appointed Mrs. Amina AI-Zubair, as his Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning in furtherance of the implementation ofthe Milleml.ium Development Goals.
Nigeria, having being at the time elected as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, was actively engaged in trying to find solutions to the many conflicts that engulfed different regions of the world, in particular, Africa. Some of the developments in Africa that engaged the Security Council at the time were the situations in Chad, the Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic,Republic of Congo, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Mali and Sudan. Others include Bosnia and Herzegovina and Cyprus; developments in the Middle East such as the Israeli/ Palestinian Question, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait and Yemen, all of whicb constitute a recurrent theme in the agenda ofthe CounciL. Other developments included situations in Timor-Lesteand the Cambodia/ Thailand border dispute.
On Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria was at the vanguard of ensuring a proactive engagement by the Security Council on the political crisis in that country following the inconclusive elections that pitched the former President Laurent Gbagbo against the current President Alassane Ouattara. Nigeria, as the President of ECOWAS at the time, was very consistent in ensuring that the position of theorganisation on the outcome of the election prevailed, a position which was acknowledged by the Security Council and the AfricanUnion.
Concerning the situation in Libya, Nigeria in the Security Council supported resolutions 1970 (2011) and 1973 (2011) primarily onthe need to protect the civilian population that at the time were bearing the brunt of the heavy handed approach of the thengovernment in power to forcefully quell the rebellion. Nigeria eventually accorded recognition to the opposition Transitional NationalCouncil (TNC) which provided the impetus for further recognition by many other African countries.
On Somalia, Nigeria remained committed to the search for peace in that country. Subsequently, Nigeria gave support to the Djibouti process that gave birth to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) including putting pressure on the Security Council to assume its full role as the agency with the primary responsibility for global peace and security. In supporting the efforts of the TFG and the troop contributing countries, Nigeria had in 2011, redeemed its earlier pledge of US$2 (two million dollars) through the provision of weapons equivqlent to that amount. Nigeria recently commenced the process of of fulfilling the pledge to contribute a model hospital to the Somali peace process. In addition, concerning the growing insecurity in the North and Horn of Africa and in particular the situation, in Somalia and the suspected complicity of the Republic of Eritrea, accused of subversive activities in support of the Al Shabab insurgent group in Somalia, Nigeria working in concert with Gabon, both members of the Security Council, proposed a resolution before the Council putting forward the imposition of additional sanctions against Eritrea. The proposal was eventually adopted by the Council.
On Sudan, Nigeria has continued to be part of the evolving process in efforts at peaceful resolution of the persisting multiple conflicts in the Sudan. As the country contributing the largest contingent of peace keepers to the United Nations peace keeping force in Sudan, especcilly in Darfur, Nigeria has remained actively engaged in the process of peaceful resolution of the myriad of crisis confronting the Sudan. Having played a prominent role in the evolution of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), Nigeria has remained engaged at the Security Council any time the situation in Sudan was brought before the Council. Consequently, Nigeria applauded the eventual attainment of Independence by South Sudan, in line with the provisions of the CPA. It is pertinent to note that a Nigerian, Major General Moses Obi, is currently the Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UN MISS), a position he assumed in 2011.
On the situation in Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, as the chairperson of the ECOWAS Contact Group on Guinea Bissau, has continued to champion the move for a return of constitutional order following the Coup d’ etat that obstructed the Presidential re-run elections after the death of former President Mallam Bacai Sanha. At the Security Council, Nigeria has continued to work with the Council to ensure inclusiveness in the efforts for a return to law and order in the country. Consequently, Nigeria facilitated statements by the Council including two resolutions renewing the mandate of the UN Integrated Peace Building office in Guinea Bissau (UNIOGBIS).
Nigeria was equally active in the global search for peace and security by the Council during the period of its membership of the Council. These efforts were prominent during debates on the Arab Spring of early January, 2011 in Yemen and Syria. Nigeria continued to advocate restraint by all the parties while encouraging efforts that would ensure the safety of the civilian population in both c.ountries.
It is noteworthy that Nigeria, for the period of its stewardship succeeded in refocusing the Council to fully embrace preventive diplomacy in its efforts to stem the tide of global insecurity. These efforts resulted in the Council instituting a monthly briefing on preventive diplomacy efforts in various crisis hot spots.
It was therefore no wonder that Nigeria was elected four times as the Chair of the Special Committee on Peace keeping operations, as a result of its proactive engagements in the global search for peace and security.
Following the decision of the General Assembly in 2009 through resolution 64/48 calling for a Conference on Arms Trade Treaty, towards the development of a legal framework establishing acceptable standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms, Nigeria was elected into the working group preparatory to the hosting of the conference. Similarly, as a measure of the importance Nigeria attached to efforts for the total elimination of illicit transfer of arms and ammunition. Nigeria was elected as the Chair of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE), to conduct informal consultations including elaboration of documents for the Second Review Conference on the Programme of Action (PoA) on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) scheduled to hold from 27th August to 7th September, 2012. As a result of the success of the GGE, Nigeria has been elected as President of the Review Conference which will be presided over by the Nigerian Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof (Mrs.) Joy Ogwu.
Similar strides were recorded in other fronts such as Gender, where Nigeria in the United Nations had continued its advocacyfor comparative gender representation in the programmes and processes of the United Nations. It is therefore not surprising that Nigeria was elected as the first President of the new body, the UN Women. Recently, Nigeria was also the eo-Chair of UN Commission for Women and Children’s Health.
Mention should also be made of the election of Nigeria’s Chile Eboe Osuji, as a Judge of the International Criminal Court in 2011. The struggle for the election of Eboe Osuji as a judge of the ICC started in Addis Ababa, where the Nigerian Mission in Addis Ababa, successfully secured African Union endorsement for his candidature. However, the emergence of other contenders during the election at the 66th General Assembly of the United Nations demanded extra work by the Permanent Representative as the voting went through several rounds before the election of the Nigerian candidate was finally secured.
The past one year has therefore been very eventful for Nigeria, marked with tremendous achievements, including proactive engagements that have endeared Nigeria to the hearts of many other contemporaries. It is remarkable to note that President Barrack Obama, while addressing the United Nations 66th General Assembly, singled out Nigeria for praise for its contribution towards the resolution of the political crisis in Cote d’Ivoire.
Nigeria concluded her fourth tenure as an elected member of the UN Security Council for the period 2010-2011. During this period, the Council provided a viable platform to engender greater visibility and goodwill within the UN. Nigeria served as a voice of reason, by being strident in addressing threats to international peace and security in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. Nigeria contributed effectively to the Council’s efforts to address thematic and cross-cutting challenges. Over 75 % ofthe issues on the agenda of the UN Security Council were African matters, ranging from the challenge of poverty and socio-economic issues to the situations in Burundi, Chad, the Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, the DRC, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Libya, among others.
Nigeria chaired the thematic debate at the UN Security Council during the 66th Session of the UN General Assemblydevoted to preventive diplomacy as a means of stemming the tide of conflicts across the globe. As Chair of the Security Council Working Group on Peace-keeping Operations, Nigeria also institutionalised the triangular Cooperation between the Security Council, the Secretariat, and the Troop- contributing countries. For the first time, the voice of the troop contributing countries waselevated and their perspectives taken into account concerning the renewal of mandate and the welfare of peace-keepers. As at today, Nigerian troops are participating in several UN peace- keepmg Missions in various parts of the world notably in Dafur Suddan (UNAMID), South Sudan (UNMlSS), Liberiai, Sierra Leone, amongs others.
Yet Africa is the only continent riot represented in the UN Security Council in the permanent seat category. Nigeria wishes to reiterate its call for the reform, expansion and democratisation of this vital organ of the world body, to reflect current realities in line with the principles of equity and justice.