South African Submission to the United Nations regarding Global Security Threats and the Security Doctrine of Uni-lateral Pre-Emption






Whether South Africa has made or will make any submissions to the 16-member panel of experts appointed by the UN Secretary-General which is examining ways and means of making the United Nation system more effective in countering global security threats and in addressing the new security doctrine phenomenon of unilateral pre-emption prompted by the coalition-led war on Iraq; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?



South Africa is indeed making input to the work of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, that was appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan "to recommend clear and practical measures for ensuring effective collective action" on "future threats to peace and security". South Africa's inter-action on the work of the Panel is guided by the broad principles that guide our commitment to a strengthened UN driven multilateral system. Some of those principles are:

  • That the UN (and for that matter, multilateralism) is of primary importance to South Africa.
  • The necessity to maintain the UN's pre-eminent role in the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • That broader multilateral approaches provide legitimacy and ensure that solutions to questions of international peace and security are more sustainable over the medium to long term.
  • Global poverty and under-development are the principal problems facing the UN and there is a direct inter-relationship between the maintenance of international peace and security and poverty and under-development.
  • The multilateral system needs to be enabled to adequately address concerns of major powers with regard to perceived new threats such as terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, especially in the hands of so-called "rogue States" and non-State actors. If this is not done, States that have the power to do so, will act unilaterally or in ad-hoc coalitions outside the UN system to neutralise such perceived threats.
  • The UN Security Council (UNSC) needs to be enlarged in order to reflect the composition of the modern global community, to democratise the international system of governance, as well as giving it more legitimacy.

South Africa is also a strong supporter of the need for UN reform in general. Three distinct elements can be identified in this regard:

  • The first element consists of numerous UN reform activities, which have been addressed for some time, including the revitalisation of the UN General Assembly as well as the UN Economic and Social Council.
  • The second element of this reform, which relates to the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs), is being conducted in a parallel process. South Africa's involvement in the reform of the BWIs is managed by the National Treasury.
  • The third element, which concerns the role and authority of the UNSC, relates to the work of the High-level Panel. This has in fact now become the primary focus of UN reform.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Mission of South Africa to the United Nations in New York are also engaged in extensive diplomatic and other consultations regarding the work of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.

The Panel met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 30 April to 2 May 2004, during which it had consultations with bodies such as the African Union, sub-regional organisations, civil society and African think tanks on peace and security issues. The following issues were discussed:

  • Threats posed by internal violence, civil war, gross violation of human rights, conflict and the role of conflict prevention and peacekeeping in dealing with such threats;
  • Threats posed by interstate conflict and rivalry and the authorisation and use of force in dealing with such threats; and
  • Threats posed by economic and social issues such as poverty, underdevelopment and communicable diseases.

The Panel is scheduled to meet next in Vienna, Austria, (tentatively) from 14 to 16 July 2004, where it expected to debate issues such as weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), nuclear proliferation and terrorism. The Panel is also expected to exchange views with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other multilateral agencies dealing with issues such as international crime. It is anticipated that the debate on the reform of security related institutions might also be more clearly defined at this meeting.

South Africa will continue to engage the Panel at all available opportunities guided by the above-mentioned principles.


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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa