By: Onifade Bello A.
Amb. Peters Emuze, Nigeria’s candidate has been elected to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) in a keenly contested election held at the UN Headquarters, New York.
He is to represent the African continent on the Rights Panel for a four-year tenure; from 2019 to 2022, reported the correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
His victory into the panel signals “prestige” and adds a ‘feather’ to Nigeria’s cap; as being a member of such UN committee is expected to enhance the nation’s diplomatic influence in the future.
A body of 18 independent experts, the CESCR monitors countries’ compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of citizens by its States parties. The Committee was established under ECOSOC Resolution 1985/17 of 28 May 1985 to carry out the monitoring functions assigned to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Part IV of the Covenant.
Amb. Emuze beat the candidates of six other countries to clinch the first of the two seats for the African continent; although he entered the race at the last minute. The seats were keenly contested against Nigeria by Algeria, Cameroon, Niger, Sudan, Mauritius and Uganda.
While other countries’ candidates had been campaigning for almost one year, Nigeria’s Emuze joined the race barely two months to the election. Mauritius’ candidate defeated Algeria’s in a run-off to clinch the second seat for Africa; while Cameroon withdrew at the last minute.
Fielding candidates for CESCR would require the country’s permanent mission to the UN. In this case, the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the UN at New York and Geneva, in conjunction with all the 54 Nigerian missions in ECOSOC member states, coordinated the process and canvassed for votes for the position.
Prof. Tijjani Bande, Nigeria’s Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN personally wrote to all the 54-Member States of ECOSOC, to seek their support for Nigeria’s candidate. This was also followed with reminders to the countries.
Samson Itegboje, Nigeria’s Ambassador/Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN said it became impossible to get other countries to step down for Nigeria, as they all wanted to “go for broke”.
“The victory has raised our profile on the international stage. I don’t think there are many countries that can pull such outing, two months to the election. We can call it a miracle but it was a result of hard work, strategy and good relations. Also, we presented the best, as our candidate has got the required experience including being the former Charge d’Affaires at the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the UN Offices in Geneva,’’ Itegboje said.
A retired career diplomat for 33 years, Emuze served as Head of Mission at Nigeria’s Permanent Mission in Geneva and also had risen to become a Special Grade Director at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Speaking with NAN after his victory into the Committee, Emuze pledged to ensure that Nigeria complies with its treaties on economic, social and cultural rights of the citizens.
“Nigeria long signed the treaty and that means Nigeria is ready to comply with various international human rights instruments as a responsible member of the international community. It is also fulfilling one of its foreign policy options. Nigeria is also in tune with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Charter and the African Human Rights Charter. So, Nigeria cannot be aloof to these issues of human rights because they are contemporary, modern times. Nigeria has always believed in the covenants of the United Nations with regards to human rights,’’ Emuze said.
Emuze is believed to be proficient in human rights issues as he had also served in Nigeria’s diplomatic missions in Zambia, the Netherlands, Italy and Hong Kong.
He was President, Conference on Disarmament and Coordinator of the African Group of Ambassadors on World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), leading to the establishment of WIPO offices in Nigeria and Algeria.