The United Nations Security Council is the most powerful global governance forum in the history of humankind. In a rapidly globalising world its constitutive mandate addressing issues of international peace and security is expanding and becoming increasingly diffuse as human security concerns transcend political borders. Nowhere is this more evident than in Africa, which dominates the Council's agenda in terms of its sheer number of unresolved conflicts and humanitarian crises.
Africa therefore has a fundamental stake in the deliberations of the Security Council, yet remains of all regional groups the largest without permanent representation on the Council. For these and many other reasons, the latter's anachronistic composition has become the subject of activism within the United Nations community for structural transformation of its executive core. Progress has thus far been elusive, mainly due to competing formulae that mask a host of foreign policy agendas. The dilemma also applies to Africa: notwithstanding the continent's decade old 'Common Position', the issue of Security Council reform has caused deep rifts and a paralysis of strategy.
This article highlights the imperatives of permanent African membership on the Security Council. It, however, argues that the continent's prospects in this quest are limited by the African Union's obsession with continental consensus. It is therefore incumbent upon the various African middle powers who have expressed ambition in this respect notably South Africa to pursue this objective by exploring alternative diplomatic strategies.