If the views of the 15 countries taking part in the Africa-India Forum Summit here this week are indicative of the overall mood on the continent, the biggest political payoff for New Delhi from its renewed engagement with Africa could well be an accelerated process of reform at the United Nations, when the 66th session of the General Assembly starts in September.
The Summit resolutions to be adopted on May 25 will include one in which Africa takes note of India's position and aspirations to become “a permanent member with full rights” in an expanded U.N. Security Council. More importantly, the 15 African participants and India will “emphasise that member-states should exert utmost effort on the UNSC reform [process] during the current session of the U.N. General Assembly,” according to the draft text finalised by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his African counterparts on Monday.
This is a reference to the ‘text based negotiation' effort for UNSC reform currently being pushed in New York by India and its ‘G-4' partners, Brazil, Germany and Japan. India has the written support of around 85 countries for its plan to put a short reform framework resolution to vote in the forthcoming session of the UNGA. If more African states were to sign up, the two-third support needed to move ahead could be within reach, Indian officials say.
On Monday, African Union Commission Chairman Jean Ping urged all African countries to support India's bid to become a permanent member of the UNSC. A previous effort to push for U.N. reform floundered due to the active opposition of some permanent members like the U.S. and China. At the same time, the lack of consensus within the AU on who should represent the continent in an expanded Council also meant the G-4 were unable to count on significant African support.