Country: Republic of Benin
Event: AAGIAC 2005
Student: Sarah Fakhral-Deen
Links to other sites on the Web: Back to the 2005-2006 Team page
The Republic of Benin, formerly known as Dahomey, was once a French colony, and since then it has changed its government parties or types a couple of times. Today, its government is a republic under multiparty democratic rule. Benin got its independence from France on the 1st of August, 1960; however, the constitution was only written in December of 1990 after the form of government known as Marxism-Leninism was dropped in December of 1989. There are 12 departments of administrative division, which are: Alibori, Atakora, Atlantique, Borgou, Collines, Kouffo, Donga, Littoral, Mono, Oueme, Plateau, and Zou. The president of Benin is President Mathieu Kerekou, who is also the person in charge of the government, hence, he is also in charge of making the final decisions. He has been in both these positions since the 4th of April, 1996.
In other words, Benin can technically be considered a dictatorship since the final decisions lie in the hands of one man, their president. The elections are held every five years, and on the 22ND of March 2001, President Kerekou was re-elected to serve another five years. The cabinet is appointed by the president. There are many political parties in Benin, some of which are: African Congress for Renewal (DUNYA), African Movement for Democracy and Progress (MADEP), Alliance of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Coalition of Democratic Forces, Impulse for Progress and Democracy (IPD), Key Force (FC), Union of Tomorrow’s Benin (UBF), and Presidential Movement (includes UBF, MADEP, IDP, FC, and four small parties).
The Republic of Benin’s neighbor that it shares the longest border with is the major power of the ECOWAS, Nigeria, it is located in Western African and bordered by three other countries and a seacoast. To the south it is bordered by the Bight of Benin (sea), to the north is Burkina Faso and Niger, to its west is Togo, and to its east is Nigeria. Its land boundaries are 1,989 km; also, about 773 km are Benin’s borders with Nigeria. The only bordering body of water is to the south, with a 121 km coastline, lies the Bight of Benin. The land of Benin is mostly flat plain, there are, however, some small hills and low mountains. Its lowest point is at the southern border at the Bight of Benin, which is a part of the Atlantic Ocean, its elevation is at 0 m, while its highest elevation is at Mount Sakbaro at 658 m. An important geographical note in Benin that affects the country are the hazardous sandbanks, which in effect causes the coastline to be inaccessible where there are no natural harbors, river mouths, or islands.
Benin does not have many natural resources, and they do not take full advantage of their existing resources, unfortunately. Benin’s natural resources include small offshore oil deposits, limestone, marble, and timber. Of these natural resources, it is unfortunate that Benin does not export any of them except a small amount of oil. Benin also has some mineral resources, which include: chromium, clay, iron ore, phosphates, and rutile (a mineral consisting of titanium dioxide in crystalline form; occurs in metamorphic and plutonic rocks and is a major source of titanium – WordWeb). Unfortunately, Benin has yet to use and develop all of its natural resources completely.
Benin’s large population is quiet diverse in certain aspects, and not really diverse in other aspects; however, its somewhat diverse population is suffering from certain health risks which are killing large numbers of people in short periods of time. Benin has a population of 7,460,025, this estimation takes into consideration the fact there is a high mortality rate due to AIDS, which leads to all of the following: lower life expectancy, lower population, lower growth rates, higher death rates, higher infant mortality, changes in age distribution, and changes in gender ratios.
The people of Benin are called Beninese people. Of the entire population, over 99% is African and only 5,500 of the entire population are Europeans, which counts for much less than 1%. The Beninese people have 3 main religions, which are: 50% of the population have local beliefs and religions, 30% are Christians, and 20% are Muslims. Because of the French colonization of Benin, their official language is French, there is the language of Fon and Yoruba (which is the most common slang in the south), and there are at least six major tribal languages in the north alone. Overall, there has been no history of any conflicts among the religions or the ethnic or cultural groups. A minor quarrel or argument in Benin’s ancient history, during the time of the kingdom of Dahomey, is that its economy was mainly based on slave trade. Dahomey started to embark on a quest of expansion of its land by using the rifles and other firearms they traded with French and Spanish slave traders. However, once the Republic of Benin was formed such quarrels no longer existed.
Benin has a fairly strong military force, and it spends a significant amount of money on military expenditures to a certain extent. Benin’s military is composed of an Army, an Air Force, and a Navy. For both compulsory and voluntary military services, the Beninese people have to be 21 years of age or older. Nonetheless, for military practice, Beninese as young as 18 years old are taken in. As for the gender of those serving in the military, there is no discrimination, seeing as both males and females are allowed to serve. The Beninese government spends about $96.5 million (USD) for military expenditures, which is about 2.4% of the GDP.
Despite the great effort of Benin in keeping a strong and well-equipped military, it technically has no one to fight; hence, this money is going to waste, basically. However, the money is not being wasted from France’s point of view, seeing as Benin has no reason to spend so much on a military force it has no need for. In other words, most probably Benin is spending all of its military expenditure to satisfy France. This makes a lot of sense because Benin has no one to fight yet it is spending a lot of money and sacrificing man power for an otherwise useless military force. Just in case of any war, which is a possibility that is very far-fetched seeing as Benin has managed to maintain a fairly reasonable relationship with other countries; nevertheless, Benin is prepared, as the saying says, "better safe than sorry." Benin is no longer in a border dispute with any neighbor; hence, it is not strengthening its army in order to win anymore border disputes of any sort with any neighbor.
Benin’s economy has always been underdeveloped; however, the government in Benin has plans that will increase the growth of their economy. Currently, their GDP is $8.338 billion (USD), and today their growth rate measures around 5% of their GDP. This is a very promising rate, especially taking into consideration that other countries in Africa come no where near this growth rate. Nonetheless, unfortunately, their increasing population is not helping in increasing this growth rate, on the contrary, the increasing population growth is stunting and decreasing Benin’s growth rate.
Some of Benin’s plans to increase their stunted growth rate are: to attract more foreign investment, increase their emphasis on tourism, facilitate the development of new food processing systems and agricultural products, and encourage new information and communication technology. Despite the fact that some of its creditors have eased the external debt situation, Benin’s external debt is $1.6 billion (USD). Benin’s industrial production growth is 8.3%, and its current industry includes: cement, construction materials, food processing, and textiles. Benin’s revenues are $869.4 (USD), while its expenditures are $720.4 million (USD). Benin’s economy is based a lot on agriculture, and its agricultural products include: beans, cassava (tapioca), corn, cotton, livestock, palm oil, peanuts, and yams. Benin exports cotton, crude oil, palm products, and cocoa with its following export partners: China 28.7%, India 18.4%, Ghana 6.3%, Thailand 6%, Niger 5.8%, Indonesia 4.2%, and Nigeria 4.2%. On the other hand, Benin imports foodstuffs, capital goods, and petroleum products from its following import partners: China 32.2%, France 13%, Thailand 6.7%, and Cote d’Ivoire 5.3%. Finally, Benin’s currency is the Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF).
Views on World Problems:
Benin, generally, has very little disputes worldwide. Nonetheless, typically, there are still a few problems it has with its neighbors. To start of with, for example, there is still a dispute between two villages along the border with Burkina Faso, and there have been a few accusations that Burkina Faso has been moving the boundary pillars. Moreover, most of the boundary between Benin and the Niger, including a third region with Nigeria, has still not been set exactly, and the ICJ is expected to bring forth a ruling in 2005. Another boundary dispute with Togo and Nigeria was resolved in 2004 due to the establishment of a joint task force. Other than boundary problems, Benin has problems of transportation of narcotics that are most commonly destined for Western Europe and the USA. In other words, simply, Benin is fighting over land because it thinks it has a scarce amount of it, and wants and needs more land to support it’s population. Furthermore, due to the Nigerian trade protection, which bans imports of a growing list of products from Benin and elsewhere, Benin remains affected. Unfortunately, this trade protection is doing more harm than it is providing help, seeing as because of it there have been many cases of smuggling and criminality along the Benin and Nigeria borders, and these cases of smuggling and criminality are not decreasing, in fact, they are increasing.
Benin does not have a very long history, however, it is highly significant and substantially important to Benin’s status in our world today. It was known as the Kingdom of Dahomey, which was founded in the 17th century by natives, and it lasted until around the late 19th century. In the 1720s Dahomey was able to conquer two Portuguese and French coastal trading forts known as Allada and Whydah.
The early origins of Dahomey were traced to a group of people known as Aja who came from a coastal kingdom called Allada, the Aja moved northward and settled with the locals, a group of people called the Fon who were the majority of the people in Dahomey. It became a French colony from 1862 up until its independence on the 1st of August in 1960. In 1972, they established a government based on the Marxist-Leninist principles, and ruled by Mathieu Kerekou. In 1989, however, it became a representative government; hence, it technically became a democracy.
In 1991, Benin made African history by being the first African country to successfully transfer from being a dictatorship to being a democracy. The democracy formed when free elections resulted in promoting former Prime Minister Nicephore Soglo to the position of president. In 1996 and 2001, Kerekou was elected as president.
Issue: Eritrea and Ethiopia
"Ethiopia's Haile Selassie was supported for decades by the United States for geopolitical and Cold War reasons. The Soviet Union had supported Somalia in their claim that parts of Ethiopia and Kenya were part of Somalia. There was actually a reversal of support by the two superpowers in the 1970s as well."
In other words, this issue has been going on for a very long time, in fact, it has been a conflict long before the 1970s, it was probably started around 1952 when Eritrea’s colonial ruler, Italy, left and in 1962 when Ethiopia took possession of their own land and kicked Italy out. Ever since 1962 up till 1993 Eritrea was ruled as a province of Ethiopia, but in 1993 "when Eritrea and Ethiopia separated amicably in 1993, no one paid too much attention to the details of the divorce settlement - least of all to a few hundred square kilometers of sparsely populated land in a region called Badme." Later on after that, a war erupted in 1997 when Eritrea introduced its own currency. Now, however, the conflict, basically, is over the seacoast along the Red Sea seeing as Ethiopia no longer has a border along the Red sea; hence, it has to go through other countries, such as Eritrea, to be able to send ships to trade goods along that line. Ethiopia accused Eritrea of invading a piece of Ethiopian-ruled land, but the Eritreans simply proclaimed that land was legally theirs. The war that went on from May in 1998 until June in 2000 resulted in 100,000 deaths and the wasting of millions of dollars on war necessities for the militaries, that money, if it hadn’t been for the war, would have been used for development of both countries. In other words, this conflict is costing both countries significant losses of citizens (hence, military power, too) and loss of money.
Benin is concerned with this issue seeing as the African Union (AU) is mainly based in Ethiopia. Thus, this conflict can be fatal to the AU’s fate. Benin strongly believes that the SC members must reach a solution, and that the only solution to solve this conflict in a short period of time is intervention. Intervention on the side of the world’s powers. Hence, the five permanent countries of the SC. It is their responsibility, in the eyes of Benin, to make sure this conflict ends as soon as humanly possible. Intervention has solved other problems that have aroused in the past. For example, intervention in the Rwandan civil war help, intervention in the case of Saddam (most recently) has indeed helped.
Intervention may have also caused some problems within the country, such as those problems we see within Iraq now-a-days, but without intervention then only God knows what Saddam could’ve done. Hence, intervening in this case is the only possible quick solution. Also, Benin will be ready to provide any needed military force, seeing as its military is a strong, well-equipped, and very well-trained army. Moreover, Benin is an active member of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and has been ever since the organization was founded in May of 1975.
ECOWAS will only be called upon for help if needed seeing as it is not in ‘good’ economic shape to help unless its intervention and help are absolutely crucial to solving this conflict. Benin believes that the SC acting from the outside will not help, at least not this far in the conflict, it won’t.
Believing the fact that this conflict started around the mid 1900s according to information from Global Issues’s website the part concerned with conflicts in Africa (http://www.globalissues.org/Geopolitics/Africa/EthiopiaEritrea.asp), Aware of the fact that the conflict, today, is because of the fact that Ethiopia no longer has a border along the Red Sea, which makes it have to go through other countries such as Eritrea in order to be able to trade along that line according to Global Issues’s website the part concerned with conflicts in Africa, Bearing in mind that according to Global Issues’s website the part concerned with conflicts in Africa, Ethiopia and Eritrea were in a state of war for about 30 years from 1962 until 1993 when Eritrea was trying to gain its independence from Ethiopia’s rule, Affirming that, according to BBC, in 1993 when Ethiopia and Eritrea separated, it was a "amicable" or "friendly" separation, Further believing that, according to BBC, the relationship between the two countries later deteriorated and Ethiopia started accusing Eritrea of "invading a piece of land that was under Ethiopian administration," but Eritrea simply replied "land in question was rightfully theirs, Contemplating the fact the war that occurred from May, 1998 to June, 2000 COST them about 70,000 or so lives and millions of dollars that could have been used for the development for of both the countries, according to Global Policy Forum, Confirms that intervention in previous cases on the behalf of SC countries has worked, according to the Chief of Defense staff of the Republic of Sierra Leone, the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) which was set up by member states of the ECOWAS and whose main external economic investors are France, the UK, and the USA has indeed helped in the evolution and conduct of ECOMOG operations, and which is "currently engaged in the process of re-establishing the authority of the democratic order and ending a nine-year savage civil war in the "Republic of Sierra Leone,"
1) Resolves the intervention of the five permanent countries of the Security Council (SC) with the help and support of the ten alternating countries of the SC, the intervention will be carried out as follows: A. Sending a significantly large size force of UN peacekeepers (no less than 600 peacekeepers) who will: i) be protecting the AU headquarters in Ethiopia just in case of any possible attacks against the AU headquarters as a way of fighting back or mutiny, ii) be making sure that no guerrilla attacks and inside terrorism is spreading, B. The five permanent SC members will assess the danger of the situation in the area of conflict, which is the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia, a piece of land that also borders the Red Sea currently being a part of Eritrea, and i) assessing or reviewing how high the risk of yet another war is in order to be able to take further necessary action based on their assessment, C. Sending troops from any of the three permanent SC members who are the main economic investors in the ECOMOG, France, UK, and USA, and any other countries that are willing to fully extend their arms in aide these troops will: i) be in charge of making sure that no more wars erupt between the parties involved, ii) be working alongside UN peacekeepers, the size of the peacekeeping force will be determined later by the five countries after they have finished their assessment and review of the conflict, D. The 15 ECOWAS members will also help by sending any needed military or peacekeeping forces as deemed necessary according to the SC’s review and with the overall review of the both the ECOWAS alongside the ECOMOG, E. Accepting the help of any nations willing to aide in all possible ways in this conflict.
In the eyes of those present today, the Republic of Benin, may be considered just another European colony. Nonetheless, Benin is proud of the early Kingdom of Dahomey, which was Benin up until the late 19th century when the Republic of Benin was officially formed. Also, believe it or not, in the 1720s, Dahomey was able to conquer Allada and Whydah, which were Portuguese and French coastal trading forts; hence, Dahomey fosters a great sense of African victory.
MOREOVER, today the Republic of Benin, is extremely honored to be the sole voice of Africa in this Security Council. Benin is very much concerned with this issue seeing as it involves the safety of the African Union's headquarters in Ethiopia. This border conflict has been going on for long enough, and Benin is here today to provide Africa's opinion, support, and to help in solving the issue at hand.
Seeing as this conflict has, in truth, been going on for what seems like almost half a century, it is much too far deteriorated to be solved without an intervention. The United Nations Security Council must take immediate action and intervene in this conflict, and Benin has every reason to believe that intervention of the SC is the ONLY way to solve this conflict so far in. Intervention has indeed worked before in more than one situation, and with the aide of the SC and all those willing to help save Africa and ensure the African Union continues its progress, intervention will work yet again.
In addition, the ECOWAS is inquired to provide any REQUIRED help as deemed necessary by the SC, and Benin will be sure to STRONGLY urge the other 14 members of ECOWAS to help seeing as this conflict could significantly aide in further deteriorating the conditions in Africa. Ladies and gentlemen, let us give all African nations a chance to progress like we have given many other countries the chance, we have all suffered at least one point in our histories, let us aide those suffering today and give them a chance that every country has the right to have. The SC has failed to aid the Rwandans in the 1990s, let the SC be successful in aiding the Ethiopians and Eritreans in this conflict. Let us be their unforgettable light that directs them through the path towards development, progression, and evolution.
In AAGIAC 2005 SC event, I represented Benin in forum 1. Generally, for all of our hard work (at BBS), I do not think that we got our due respect. That is because no one was taking the event seriously, to them it was all about declaring war and doing such things that the GA cannot do. The event was ridiculous on some of the delegate’s parts, however, our chair was a great chair and she was serious and at the same time she did give a chance for some humor to a certain degree. Nonetheless, Benin’s clause was not debated as the crisis situation took most of the debate time. The SG’s idea, yes it did add humor; however, some delegates were taking it too far and making up so-called resolutions. Fortunately, the forum I was in was fairly serious compared to other forums. We passed a few clauses, most of which were passed as friendly clauses. Being Benin I was able to represent the only African country in that forum that remained behind its policy.