A United Nations Security Council meeting at the UN headquarters in New York. Picture: Li Muzi/Xinhua
Three months after the Nato bombing of Libya began in 2011, the AU presented Africa’s position on the attack to the UN Security Council.

The bombing was carried out by the traditional imperial aggressors France and Britain, joined by the US and, marginally, some other nations.

It should be recalled that there were two interventions.

The first, under UN Security Council Resolution 1973, adopted on March 17, 2011, called for a no-fly zone. Then a ceasefire was cast aside as the imperial triumvirate joined the rebel army, serving as its air force.

At the outset of the bombing, the AU called for efforts at diplomacy and negotiations to try to head off a likely humanitarian catastrophe in Libya. The AU was joined by BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and others, including major regional Nato power Turkey.

The triumvirate was isolated in its attacks - undertaken to eliminate the mercurial tyrant who they had supported when it was advantageous. The hope was for a regime more likely to be amenable to Western demands for control of Libya’s rich resources and, perhaps, to secure an African base for the US Africa Command (Africom), so far confined to Stuttgart in Germany.

No one can know whether the relatively peaceful efforts called for in UN Resolution 1973, and backed by most of the world, might have succeeded in averting the terrible loss of life and the destruction that followed in Libya.

On June 15, the AU informed the UN Security Council that “ignoring the AU for three months and going ahead with the bombings of the sacred land of Africa had been high-handed, arrogant and provocative”.

The AU went on to present a plan for negotiations and policing within Libya by AU forces, along with other measures of reconciliation - to no avail.

The AU call to the UN Security Council also laid out the background for their concerns: “Sovereignty has been a tool of emancipation of the peoples of Africa, who are beginning to chart transformational paths for most of the African countries after centuries of predation by the slave trade, colonialism and neo-colonialism.

“Careless assaults on the sovereignty of African countries are, therefore, tantamount to inflicting fresh wounds on the destiny of African peoples.”

This is a direct challenge to the current minister of international relations and co-operation in South Africa to bring back the hope of African people and ideologically redirect the continent to the correct trajectory of the reawakening and rebirth, as she has been echoing former president Thabo Mbeki’s African Renaissance in her recent speeches.

Her political credentials and security background (defence and intelligence) affirm her as an ANC deployee capable of raising the profile of South Africa and Africa at large, continuing with the legacy of Nelson Mandela, to fulfil the mission of Patrice Lumumba and Kwame Nkrumah.

Chairing the AU and UN Security Council, which are geo-strategic positions, comes in handy for both South Africa and Africa to reposition itself in global politics.

The African appeal can be found in the Indian journal Frontline, but was mostly unheard in the West.

That comes as no surprise: Africans are “unpeople”, to adapt George Orwell’s term for those unfit to enter history.

On March 12, the Arab League gained the status of people by supporting UN Resolution 1973. But approval soon faded when the league withheld support for the subsequent Western bombardment of Libya.

On April 10, the Arab League reverted to “unpeople” by calling on the UN to impose a no-fly zone over Gaza and lift the Israeli siege - virtually ignored.

That, too, makes sense. Palestinians are prototypical “unpeopled”, as we regularly see. Consider that year’s November-December issues on foreign affairs, which opened with two articles on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The one written by Israeli officials Yosef Kuperwasser and Shalom Lipner blamed the continuing conflict on the Palestinians for refusing to recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

The second, by American scholar Ronald R Krebs, attributes the problem to Israeli occupation (the article is subtitled: “How the occupation Is destroying the nation”).

Which nation? Israel, of course, harmed by having its boot on the necks of “unpeople”.

Another illustration: In October, headlines trumpeted the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who had been captured by Hamas.

We learnt nothing about the hundreds of other detainees held in Israeli prisons for long periods without charge.

I think that, given time and a chance, South Africa can change the complexion of the UN Security Council, especially from the witticism and composure they demonstrated in winning the vote for AU chairmanship.

* Mdekazi is a PhD candidate at Stellenbosch University.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.