Calls for a more inclusive leadership role for African members at the UN, and a review of foreign state military intervention in Africa, were key themes from the Africa Summit of the Future Dialogue.

With the theme of “The Africa We Want and the United Nations (UN) We Need”, the Summit took place on March 4-6 in Abuja, Nigeria as a regional precursor to the anticipated United Nations ‘Summit of the Future’ 2024 in September. The dialogue brought together notable individuals and civil society leaders from Africa, academics, policy experts and think tank researchers for a three-day conference to discuss the key issues facing Africa and the necessary reforms to UN multilateralism in the continent.

Participants in Abuja called for institutional reform for more effective and inclusive global multilateralism. In preparation for the UN summit, the Africa Summit of the Future Dialogue aimed to ensure that the collective concerns of African states could be communicated to the international community. The series of panels, debates and submissions during the event formed the ‘Abuja Declaration’ included a restructuring of the UN Security Council (UNSC) and UN peacekeeping operations, an end to foreign state military intervention in Africa and the establishment of an African Research Network.

It recommends increasing UNSC permanent membership to include representation from underrepresented regions, offering two permanent seats for African states as an example. The declaration also calls for the unconditional funding of UN Peacekeeping operations, with the operations pushed by African states and imposed voluntarily. Approximately half of all UN peacekeeping troops are deployed in Africa, with many states relying on their presence for civilian protection. 

The epicenter of terrorism has shifted into the Central Sahel … exacerbated recent military coups, posing an ongoing challenge in Africa.

Ensuring that peacekeeping initiatives are constructed by African states and increasing cooperation with African Union peacekeeping forces may reduce domestic opposition and therefore improve effectiveness. IEP’s Global Terrorism Index 2024 found that the epicenter of terrorism has shifted into the Central Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa, exacerbated by the series of recent military coups, posing an ongoing challenge to the continent. While participants reflected support for expanded UN peacekeeping, they took a strong stance against foreign state military intervention; 

“Africa rejects external interference in the sovereignty of its nations and peoples. To this end, all foreign powers with a military presence must evacuate.” 

Participants viewed this presence as a significant barrier to African agency and sovereignty.  Africa has had a tenuous relationship with foreign military presence in its modern history. The continent hosts military bases from a range of foreign powers, including the US, France, China and Russia. 

Africa is the largest regional recipient of China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ investment, positioning China as an immensely important economic partner. This has been accompanied by plans to establish military installations around the continent. China’s first military base was built in Djibouti in 2017 and Beijing reportedly plans to establish an additional base in Gabon. 

Africa has experienced nine successful coups since 2020, which in several cases have led to the withdrawal of Western and UN peacekeeping forces, and the increasing involvement of Russian mercenaries and military. Russia has been involved in the continent through counter-terrorism forces and military aid. This has been achieved through the Wagner mercenary group, and after its collapse, the newly established ‘Africa Corps’ which reports directly to the Russian Department of Defense 

The Alliance of Sahel States have shed their longstanding French military presence, through a mixture of French withdrawal and junta demands. This phenomenon has been felt by the US, which despite its long-term military investment in Niger, has agreed to withdraw its forces from the state after 2024 pressure from the junta. Similarly, Chad threatened to end their security partnership with the US, aligning with their demonstrated intent to join the alliance.  

Despite the consensus in this article of the declaration, consensual Russian military presence in the Sahel region and Chinese bases appear to be on the rise, making the vision of an Africa free of foreign military forces unlikely in the short term. 

In response to the need for collaborative regional research, the attending groups agreed to develop an African Research Network. This initiative aims to connect researchers and policymakers to develop more effective responses to the challenges faced in the African continent, centered around policy research, policy dialogue and community of practice. This proposal is expected to be expanded further in the upcoming May UN-Civil Society Conference in Nairobi, continuing the theme of increasing African agency and the regional development of solutions to solve regional problems.  

The Summit of the Future in September will discuss global governance and effective multilateralism and will develop a collaborative “Pact for the Future”, which promises significant reform to global governance practices and institutions to accelerate progress on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The UN summit will cover;  

  • Sustainable development and financing for development;   
  • International peace and security;  
  • Science, technology and innovation and digital cooperation;  
  • Youth and future generations;  
  • Transforming global governance 


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