Mozambique takes “historic” UNSC seat

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June 7, 2022 was “an historic date,” according to Mozambique’s Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Pedro Comissário Afonso, when his country won its Security Council (SC) seat.

The UNSC is the UN body responsible for the maintenance of global peace and security, Mozambique’s two-year term started this January 2023.

This week (Tuesday, 3 January) Mozambique, along with Ecuador, Malta and Switzerland received an official welcome to the UNSC. It was historic because, for Mozambique and Switzerland, it was their countries’ first-ever terms on the UN’s most powerful body. It is Malta’s second time while for Ecuador, it is a fourth and Japan’s marks a record 12th time.

It is not unusual for a UNSC seat to raise a small nation-state’s global profile in a positive way, but it can also put the country under the spotlight as world SC watchers check the country’s performance. This scrutiny may be more than otherwise received on issues of global peace and security.

What will Mozambique do with its new power on the UNSC? How will Mozambique work with other countries on advocating for and promoting African continental, regional and thematic issues and balance them with advancing its own national interests? This is still to be seen.

After being elected, the High Commission for Mozambique published a press statement. It said, “In his first reaction to the vote, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi pledged that, during its two years as a member of the Security Council, Mozambique would do its utmost to prove a constructive and effective partner in the construction of peace, adding that President Nyusi said, ‘We shall be the voice of African countries who are seeking to build a peaceful and prosperous future for all’.

When he was in Washington in December, Nyusi met US Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken at the State Department offices. At this meeting, Blinken said, “We are looking forward to our collaboration when Mozambique becomes a member of the UNSC in January, but we’re also strong partners — strong partners in helping Mozambique build stability, strong partners in building out global health together, dealing with food insecurity and we really welcome that partnership.” Both principals discussed, “shared global and regional priorities, including areas for co-operation during Mozambique’s first and historic UNSC term,” according to State Department spokesperson, Ned Price.

To win a seat on the UNSC, “a country must receive a two-thirds majority, or 128 votes, even if they run uncontested,” confirmed the UN. Mozambique ran uncontested and faced no other country from Africa. The UN confirmed ballot results: “In the African and Asia-Pacific group, Mozambique received 192 votes, marking its first time serving on the Council.” Of the 193 UN member countries, Venezuela did not vote because it was in arrears with its UN membership, according to the Mozambican High Commission. Japan garnered 184 votes, and Mongolia three. Both Russia and Ukraine voted in Mozambique’s favour. Mozambique replaces Kenya, which vacated its seat on December 31, 2022.

China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the US are permanent, veto-wielding members of the council. The other two-year members from Africa are Gabon and Ghana, if co-ordination is done closely with Mozambique for Africa, this would make them the A3 (three African countries on the council). The UN Security Council consists of 15 member states.

Pearl Matibe is a Washington, DC-based foreign correspondent and media commentator with expertise on US foreign policy and international security. You may follow her on Twitter: @PearlMatibe