Issue 86 | 15 November 2013
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South Africa’s term on the Geneva-based HRC begins
on 1 January 2014. South Africa’s election to this auspicious body coincides with the country’s celebration of its 20th year of democracy and reaffirms our commitment to the
achievement of human rights for all our citizens, the citizens of the continent and the citizens
of the world.

The UN General Assembly has elected South Africa, together with 14 other member states of the UN, to serve on the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). The election took place during the 51st Meeting of the 68th Session of the General Assembly, in New York on 13 November 2013. South Africa received an overwhelming 169 votes from a total of 193, reflecting the important role that the country plays in the development and shaping of the international human rights agenda.

The HRC is the UN’s intergovernmental body that deliberates on issues pertaining to the development, promotion, protection and fulfilment of international human rights law, norms and standards. South Africa previously served on the erstwhile Commission for Human Rights, and played an active role in the reform processes of that body, which culminated in the creation of the HRC in 2006.

South Africa is firmly committed to work towards the strengthening of the international human rights system, particularly through the democratic Government’s principled position, which affirms the inextricability between economic, social and cultural rights on the one hand, and civil and political rights on the other. To this end, South Africa has pledged to use its position within the council to advance a rules-based, just and equitable human rights system that is dedicated to the respect for the promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights, and to ensure that the UN human rights system affords maximum protection to victims of human rights violations.

South Africa has extended its gratitude to the member states of the UN for their invaluable support of our candidacy.



The theme for CHOGM 2013, developed by the host country, emphasises the importance of equity in economic development and that inclusive development should provide opportunities to all members of society.


President Jacob Zuma is leading a South African delegation to the CHOGM that will be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from 15 to 17 November 2013.

CHOGM 2013 is taking place against the prominent international focus on the 2015 target date for achieving the millennium development goals (MDGs) and a number of initiatives examining the post-2015 global development agenda. Due to a large number of small, developing and vulnerable states among its membership, the Commonwealth has a special interest in both the MDGs and the Post-2015 Development Agenda. This interest is reflected in the theme and focus of CHOGM 2013: “Growth with Equity: Inclusive Development”.

Discussions at the meeting will cover a number of global issues affecting Commonwealth members, including the global financial crisis; attainment of the MDGs; development of sustainable development goals; the Post-2015 Development Agenda; access to employment; youth unemployment; education; entrepreneurship; international trade and investment; the Doha Development Agenda of the World Trade Organisation; and climate change financing.




According to reports, Typhoon Haiyan is one of the most powerful storms on record to make landfall.


On behalf of the Government and the people of the Republic of South Africa, President Jacob Zuma has expressed his deepest condolences to his counterpart, President Benigno Aquino, the Government and the people of the Republic of the Philippines, in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines on 8 November 2013, killing thousands of people and leaving hundreds of thousands displaced.

President Zuma said: “During this time of pain and suffering, particularly in the case of those who have lost loved ones, please be assured that the Government and people of South Africa share in your sorrow. We trust that the resilience of the people of the Philippines, that has seen them through very difficult times in the past, will help them overcome this great loss and devastation.”

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s Consular Services is in contact with our Embassy in the Philippines for regular updates.

Haiyan made landfall in northern Vietnam early on Monday, 11 November, as a tropical storm, just days after leaving massive destruction in the Philippines.


South Africans living abroad will be able to register for the 2014 elections as soon as new legislation governing out-of-country registration and voting has been approved, says the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

The draft law does not require South Africans living abroad who are already registered as voters in South Africa to register again, and they will, as before, be able to cast a special vote in the 2014 elections.

However, those who have not yet registered to vote will have to wait for the new legislation, which is expected to be enacted in November.

“Only once the Electoral Amendment Bill 2013 is approved by Parliament and signed into law by the President can arrangements for registering South Africans abroad be finalised,” the IEC said in a statement.

The Bill has been approved by the National Council of Provinces and is currently before the National Assembly.

“It is hoped the Bill will be approved and enacted before the end of November. In the meantime, advance planning for the process is proceeding in conjunction with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation,” the commission said.

In terms of the draft legislation, South Africans will have to register in person at South Africa’s high commissions, embassies or consulates abroad. They will need to be in possession of a valid South African Identity document (either a green bar-coded South African ID book, a new smart ID card or a valid temporary identity certificate), as well as a valid South African passport, in order to be registered.

The IEC said it would announce further details of the registration process for South Africans abroad on its website and via the media once the legislation has been enacted. Source:



The visit, which came at the invitation of the DPRK Government, took place in the context of the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.


The Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ebrahim Ebrahim, paid an official visit to the DPRK from 4 to 8 November 2013 to hold political consultations and review bilateral relations. The Deputy Minister was accompanied by the South African Ambassador accredited to the DPRK, Dr Bheki Langa.

During the visit, Deputy Minister Ebrahim held consultations with Vice Minister Kim Hyong Jun, and paid courtesy calls on the Foreign Minister, Pak Ui Chun, and Kim Yong Nam, the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly. In his engagements, the Deputy Minister shared South Africa’s experience of denuclearisation, highlighting the great benefits that accrued to South Africa from its decision to dismantle its nuclear weapons in 1994. The South African side also related its experience of resolving conflict through negotiations and dialogue, and encouraged the DPRK to resume participation in the six-party talks at the earliest opportunity.

Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim noted the negative reports on human rights in the DPRK emanating from international organisations and offered to share South Africa’s own experience and technical expertise to assist the DPRK in this area. The DPRK was also encouraged to recommence the family reunion programme with the ROK, both on humanitarian grounds and as a confidence-building measure to build trust with South Korea.

As part of the programme arranged by the DPRK Government, the South African delegation visited the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) at Panmunjom as well as various newly constructed social amenities in Pyonyang showing the progress that the DPRK has made over the past few years.
Issues such as strengthening collaboration between BRICS universities, partnerships and knowledge exchanges on Technical Vocational Education and Training, portability and transferability of qualifications between BRICS countries were highlighted as important for the cooperation.
The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, hosted the first meeting of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) Ministers of Education on 5 November 2013, in Paris, France, on the margins of the 37th Session of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) General Conference.

The meeting provided a platform for BRICS education minsters to explore areas of collaboration in the fields of education and training between their countries. The meeting also discussed potential areas of cooperation between BRICS and UNESCO in line with the resolution of the 2011 Sanya Summit, held in China.
The BRICS health ministers met in Cape Town from 4 to 7 November 2013 on the sidelines of the 66th Session of the World Health Assembly.
The conference focussed on identifying ways to accelerate collaborative efforts to achieve existing global health commitments and to overcome underlying challenges linked to non-communicable diseases, maximising collaboration on priority trends for BRICS in support of the millennium development goals and Post-2015 Development Agenda.
South Africa’s coastline, which spans about 3 000 km, has a threat and challenge of abandoned wrecks due to the high traffic volume of ships that pass through.
Cabinet has ratified the Nairobi International Convention on Removal of Wrecks, 2007, which provides the first set of uniform international rules aimed at ensuring the prompt and effective removal of wrecks located beyond the territorial sea.

The convention aims to achieve the right of a coastal state to remove wrecks from their exclusive economic zone, ensure strict liability of the ship owners for the costs of reporting, marking and removing a wreck, and imposing the compulsory or other financial security to ship owners.
Hosting the event will help to promote awareness and encourage African states to share information regarding aircrew performance, the safety of aircrew and passengers in flight as well as safety management.
The South African Civil Aviation Authority, together with the International Civil Aviation Organisation, will host the first African Aerospace Medicine Conference in February 2014. The conference will bring together regulatory authorities and health practitioners in the aerospace environment to discuss challenges confronting the sector.



The office, which will open for business in February, will serve as a base for becoming familiar with Francophone West Africa and identifying opportunities for growth within the region.

South Africa’s Standard Bank Group is to expand its presence in Africa with the opening of a representative office in Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire.

“Establishing a presence in the Côte d’Ivoire fits in with our Africa-focussed strategy,” Standard Bank joint group chief executive, Sim Tshabalala, said in a statement recently.

Initially, the main function of the office will be to source business for Standard Bank and to promote trade between various African countries and Côte d’Ivoire.

Tshabalala said the new office would benefit the bank’s corporate clients who had already established, or were considering establishing, operations in Francophone Africa. Source:
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