According to a report published in the Times of India, January 29, 1984, the African member of the United Nations, although often riven by differences and disagreements on international matters at home, do possess an ability to reach a consensus on such affairs within the Framework of the U.N.
The African position does, in fact, represent a factor of consi¬derable importance in the workings of the U.N. The African countries represent nearly one-third of the total 159 nation memberships in the General Assembly; with that kind of voting strength, any agreement among the African countries is virtually certain to be adopted by the members as a whole.
Mrs. Jeanne J. Kirkpatrick, chief U.S. delegate, and others have contended that other regional groups, in comparison to the Africans, are far less able to achieve agreement among their members.
For example, the Africans have already decided that the dele¬gate From Zambia, Mr. Paul Lusaka, will be the president of the 39th General Assembly, which opens in September, it will be the turn of an African to serve in the post, which rotates among the major regional groups.
By contrast, in the General Assembly concluded last month, when it was up to the Latin American group to choose the presi¬dent. They were unable to agree on a candidate, and the issue had finally to be settled by a vote on the full membership.
How do countries as diverse as radical Libya and moderate Egypt, Marxist Mozambique and conservative Zaire manage to find common positions.
Some diplomat in the U.N. contend that African unanimity is achieved only by avoiding potentially contentious issues, such as the Libyan occupation of parts of Chad, over which the African countries themselves are deeply divided.
But surely if unity among disparate groups is considered a worthy goal, the only sure ways of achieving it are concentration on consensus-building questions and avoidance of contentious issues. It is in this, surely, that Africa has led the way.