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Asia, Africa leaders call for U.N. Security Council reform

Kyodo

Asian and African leaders on Thursday called for “a comprehensive reform” of the U.N. Security Council so it can better represent the realities of the international community in the 21st century.

“We call for continued efforts to reform the United Nations, including the revitalization of the General Assembly and a comprehensive reform of the Security Council,” the leaders said in a declaration adopted at the end of the two-day Asian and African Summit in Jakarta.

Such reform “corresponds to the collective interests of developing countries,” while a reformed Security Council would “significantly increase representation of Asia and Africa,” said the Declaration on Reinvigorating the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership.

Japan is a leading advocate of Security Council reform, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe saying last month, “With pride quietly in mind at having built up a record of one achievement after another, Japan stands ready to take on the role of a permanent member of the Security Council.”

In collaboration with Brazil, Germany and India, Japan is pushing for expanding the number of both permanent and nonpermanent members of the 15-member Security Council, especially because this year marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ founding.

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who chaired the summit, said Wednesday that people suffer because the United Nations “becomes powerless” in the face of violent acts taking place across the globe in the absence of a mandate to effect change.

Calls have been made by many countries for U.N. reform since the late 1990s. No consensus, however, has been reached among its member countries.

Speaking at the end of the summit, Jokowi said the Asian and African leaders have come up with concrete steps to develop a new world order that is more just and peaceful and to encourage mutually beneficial cooperation in order to bridge the development gap.

“The voices expressed in the summit were the awakening voices of the Asian-African nations. Therefore, our voices and decisions can’t be ignored by anyone,” he told the delegates of more than 100 countries from the two continents.

“The conference has sent a message to the world that the condition of the world is still imbalanced and far (from) justice and peace,” he said later in a news conference.

The leaders also condemned extremism and terrorist acts in the name of religion and underscored the need for dialogue among people of different cultures and religions, according to Jokowi.

Regarding economic development and cooperation, the leaders “agreed to foster trade and investment as the engine of growth,” and that maritime cooperation “will become one of the main pillars of the new strategic partnership of Asia and Africa,” he said.

The leaders welcomed Abe’s announcement Wednesday of Japan’s assistance in the training of 350,000 people in Asia and Africa over the next five years as part of efforts to ensure “quality growth” and eradicate poverty in the two areas, according to the strategic partnership declaration.

The declaration contains an action plan to implement the Bandung Message 2015, a separately adopted visionary document.

Another document adopted at the summit focuses on the Asian-African countries’ support for the struggle of the Palestinian people and their independence.

The summit was the second of its kind since the Asian-African Conference was held in April 1955 in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung. The first took place in April 2005 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of what is commonly known as the Bandung Conference.