Notes Following Briefing by Minister Dlamini Zuma on Outcomes of African Union Extraordinary Summit Regarding United Nations Security Council Reform, Tshwane, South Africa, 1 November 2005

Questions and answers session

Question Minister, would there have been more movement in New York during September this year had the African position with regard to veto rights, etc been waived?

Answer No, I don't believe it would have. As you know, the outcome document of the 2005 Millenium Review Summit instructed Heads of State to review progress on the matter by the end of the year. As far as I am concerned this is alive and an ongoing issue. This is work in progress.

In December we must see where we are, how far we have progressed. Indeed, the matter may even spill over into next year.

The last Extraordinary Summit of the AU in August 2005 decided that, although the Committee of Foreign Ministers of the AU had done all that they could to solicit support for the African position, this was not enough to achieve the outcomes desired by the African Union.

The Summit then established the Committee of 10 Heads of State, consisting of two representatives per region of the AU, and chaired by President Alhaji Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone to popularise and gain support for the African position.

This group reported back yesterday, Monday 31 October 2005. They are of the view that enough has been done and achieved in terms of their mandate in soliciting support for the African position - they believe that enough support exists for the African position.

If this is the case, then the only way forward to test the support for the position is by putting it before the United Nations General Assembly for a vote. This is the next step - to objectively test whether there is enough support for the African position - there are some who still believe there is not enough support for the African position.

A decision was also taken to revert to the original grouping of Foreign Ministers who will now try to convince other member-states of the AU position and and at the appropriate time put it to the UN General Assembly for a vote.

Question Minister, where does the AU feel it has support (outside of Africa)?

Answer The Committee of 10 Heads of State thought is has the support of some of the P5 (5 permanent members of the UN Security Council). No other countries were specifically mentioned.

It was however stressed that while the matter of Security Council reform is important for Africa, African unity is equally important. We will have to move in unity also after the vote. The vote will allow us to move forward whatever the outcome. This would end all need to squabble amongst ourselves.

Question Minister, what are the implications of this African position for co-operation with the G-4?

Answer This is an African resolution and can be co-sponsored and supported by anyone who wants to. However, this is not a joint resolution.

Question Minister, are all African countries bound to support this resolution because they are part of the African Union? When will the resolution be tabled?

Answer We are hopeful that all members of the African Union will support the resolution and perhaps some outside the continent.

I am not certain when the matter will be tabled before the General Assembly. We must however be mindful of the timetable accepted at the Summit- ie. that the matter must be reviewed by the end of December 2005.

Question Minister, a German diplomat was quoted as saying that Africa's position is impossible and that it cannot work.

Answer As I've said, the matter will be tabled before the General Assembly by the end of the December this year. We cannot be distracted by what other people are saying. We want the process to move forward and we want to remain united as Africa.

It does not help to argue amongst ourselves.

The very objective way in which this matter can be resolved is to put it before the General Assembly for a vote. We will then be able to test the support we have or otherwise for our position. The outcome of the vote will determine the next stage.

Question Minister, there has effectively been no change in the African position since the August Summit. How long did it take in Addis to decide that the position should remain unchanged? What was the mood in Addis?

Answer The mood in Addis was very congenial - we believe a lot has been achieved. Although the position remains unchanged, we can now move forward to put the matter before the General Assembly to determine the international support for this position. We are confident that a lot has been achieved and progress made although the position has remained the same.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs

Private Bag X152

1 November 2005

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