Ethiopia starts its term as non-permanent member of the UN Security Council

Ethiopia began its two-years term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council this week on Sunday (January 1, 2017), recommitting itself once again to the noblest aspirations of the human community – the safeguarding of international peace and security.  The United Nations General Assembly elected five non-permanent members to the Security Council in June at United Nations Headquarters in New York. Ethiopia was elected by 185 votes out of 190 members of the General Assembly. The election provided Ethiopia, Bolivia, Sweden and Kazakhstan, with Italy and the Netherlands splitting the fifth seat, with a two-year mandate for membership of the Security Council. Ethiopia now joins Egypt and Senegal on the Security Council as representatives for Africa. They both have one more year to serve.

The letter and spirit of the UN Charter have always inspired Ethiopia, a UN founder member as well as a member of the previous League of Nations. Equally, fully aware of current trends, Ethiopia remains committed to share African thoughts, values and ideas, mediated through regional conditions. It is also very conscious of the changing circumstances and interests within this important organ of the United Nations, which is dedicated at preserving peace through cooperation and coordination despite the myriad of challenges facing the humanity in this 21st century.

Election to the Security Council offered clear recognition of Ethiopia's increasing reputation for helping to maintain international peace and security. Ethiopia's participation and experience in peacekeeping in Africa also played a significant element in its successful bid. It currently provides a total of 8,321 personnel, both men and women, in UN peacekeeping duties. It also provides peacekeepers for AU Missions and is currently the largest provider of peacekeeping forces in the world. Dr. Cilliers from the South African Institute for Security Studies noted that Ethiopia was an important player in terms of peace and security on the African continent, adding, "It has been for a number of years the largest troops contributor on peacekeeping in Africa. It hosts the African Union; and in the Horn of Africa, it is extremely significant in Somalia, in Sudan and elsewhere. So I think that this reflects in a sense Ethiopia's status as an emerging peace and security power in Africa." Ethiopia has certainly been a strong force in mediating in the South Sudan political crisis and in neighbouring Somalia. It has been in the forefront of IGAD's activities for regional peace and security. Indeed, overall, Ethiopia has been a major pillar in the continent's peace and security architecture.

Ethiopia's election to the Security Council for the 2017–2018 term is a success for Ethiopia's foreign policy and diplomacy. It underlines Ethiopia's interest to contribute to and defend the international order, at the heart of which lie the United Nations and the Security Council. Ethiopia's candidacy was based on knowledge and involvement in international peace and security, as well as its strong belief in dialogue and diplomacy, and its respect for international law. Ethiopia's foreign policy is guided by the principles of collective security, equality and mutual understanding, as well as the spirit and philosophy of Pan-Africanism for the advancement of peace. It remains determined to improve international security architecture and advance peace, the goal and guide for any international community of nations.

Ethiopia will exert every possible effort to make meaningful and constructive contribution to the work of the Council, in close cooperation and collaboration with other members. The United Nations cannot handle today's peace and security challenges alone, Ethiopia will continue to advocate for greater strategic coherence, dialogue and coordination between regional mechanisms, the African Union and the United Nations in addressing the peace and security challenges in Africa.

Ethiopia is also conscious that it represents IGAD and Eastern Africa, as well as Africa as a whole, in the Security Council. Africa provides an important part of the Council's agenda. The UN has its largest peacekeeping operations in Africa and is deeply involved in peace and security on the continent. Ethiopia strongly believes in the importance of UN cooperation with the African Union, especially with the Security Council's interests and involvement in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. It will work to increase cooperation between the Security Council and the African Union particularly in the areas of peace and security.

One of the major issues for the Security Council today is combatting terrorism. Ethiopia believes in the necessity for a strong UN that will act confidently to enable coordinated international action against terrorism and violent extremism. UN bodies must work together, particularly with young people, to prevent the spread of terrorism. It is committed to safeguard human rights and democracy and work for the elimination of the causes of violent extremism and terrorism.  It also supports increased transparency and dialogue in the operations of the Security Council to help build support and confidence in its operations. Indeed, dialogue and consultation are vital as are other considerations for the improvement of the Council's operations, including expansion in the number of permanent members.

Ethiopia believes a strong confident UN is of critical importance to combat terrorism and deal with other major challenges: climate change including the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, peace and security, prevention of conflict, terrorism, migration and gender equality. The various bodies of the UN must work together and give concerted support to measures to deal with these issues at national and regional level.