Comments by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, at the Press Briefing of the International Relations, Peace and Security (IRPS) Cluster, Cape Town, 2 November 2005

Context

  • This is the last IRPS media briefing for this year. Since our last report, there have been a number of developments.

  • We note with grave concern the acts of terror committed over the weekend in India where more than 50 civilians were killed. The South African government condemns these acts and hopes that the perpetrators of this heinous act will be arrested and persecuted by the Indian authorities.

  • I also want to take this opportunity to pass our condolences to the people of Nigeria for one of its worst aviation accidents in recent times when an airline destined for its capital crashed in mid-air killing all on board. We also express our condolences to President Obasanjo on the untimely death of his wife.

  • Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Pakistan who are still recovering from the devastating earthquake that has killed more than 50 000 civilians.

THE UN REPORT ON THE OIL FOR FOOD PROGRAMME

  • The South African government welcomes the release of the UN report on the oil-for food-programme on Thursday 27 October 2005 as commissioned by the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.

  • In this regard, the government has noted allegations of payment of surcharges levelled against more than two thousand companies internationally which participated in the oil-for-food programme including several South African entities.

  • Consequently, the Ministry of Justice is studying the contents of this report and will advise the government on the best course of action.

  • The government rejects the insinuation that its foreign policy has been compromised by the alleged activities of the few South African companies involved in the oil-for-food programme.

  • Accordingly, the government reiterates its oft-stated position that its foreign policy has always been principled and will remain consistent in pursuit of South Africa's national interests and in keeping with international law.

United Nations Reform

  • The UN Millennium Review Summit has taken place with some progress made, but agreement on a number of areas affecting the African continent and the developing world was not forthcoming. In this regard, as South Africa we continue to contribute to the resolutions of these issues as part of the progressive movement for change in the world.

  • It is disappointing that there was not enough agreement with regard to developmental challenges facing Africa. The latest UN Social Development Report is very dire in that it reports that at the current pace, Africa will be the only continent that will fail to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

  • Among the issues that need finalisation are some that were considered pillars of the overall reform package namely, the Human Rights Council (operational modalities), the Peace-building Commission, the reform of the Security Council as well as UN Secretariat and management reforms.

  • This is again a serious indictment on the developed countries in their lack of political will to deal comprehensively with issues that affect the underdeveloped countries.

  • South Africa has participated actively in the various negotiating forums leading up to the UN Millennium Review Summit, including the Africa Group, the Group of 77 and China and the Non-Aligned Movement.

  • In order to proceed on the outstanding issues, Sweden, which is the current President of the UN General Assembly, has invited South Africa to join a new core group to lead the consultative and negotiation processes.

  • We hope that the various committees established to deal with the outstanding issues would be able to successfully complete their tasks within the next 12 months.

  • Many of the outstanding issues are of great importance to Africa. In this regard, the Chairperson of the African Union Assembly called for an extraordinary Session of the Assembly that convened on 31 October 2005 at the AU Headquarters.

  • The extraordinary session of AU Assembly in Addis Ababa concluded that sufficient support exists for Africa's original position of demanding two permanent seats with veto rights on the UN Security Council and five non-permanent seats.

  • It was also agreed that the resolution adopted should be tested at the UN General Assembly by requesting the Assembly to vote on the resolution to determine its support.

  • After such a vote, African Union members will then determine what step, if any, to take next.

  • It is still uncertain as to when the resolution will be presented at the UN General Assembly.

  • On matters of UN reform, we remain committed to the Ezulwini Consensus of the AU. The Ezulwini Consensus remains two permanent seats for Africa with all the prerogatives and privileges including the right of veto and five non-permanent seats.

  • We continue to take a multilateral approach to world affairs and to be guided by our decisions in the AU on the matter of UN reform. South Africa will continue its active and positive engagement in efforts to reform and revitalise the United Nations to ensure that the Organisation is able to adequately meet the global challenges of the 21st Century

CONSOLIDATION OF THE AFRICA AGENDA

  • The African Union is in the process of consolidating its organs of governance through reorganising its resources so as to strengthen capacity within its various institutions.

  • The 4th session of the Pan African Parliament will take place from 21 November to 2 December 2005 at its headquarters in Midrand. South Africa continues to fulfil its obligations in terms of the Host Agreement and provide additional personnel and logistical support.

  • Issues not approved by the Bureau but on the agenda are as follows:

    • Strategic Plan for 2006-2010

    • Consideration and approval for the Pan African Parliament Budget of the Community

    • Consideration and Adoption of the Commission Reports, debates on the oversight of the Pan-African Parliament

    • Reports of the AU on Peace and Security in Africa

    • Debates on the Great Lakes region Declaration

    • Report on the Pan-African Parliament Mission to Mauritania

    • Debates on the reports of the Blair Commission on Africa in relation to the NEPAD and the African Peer Review Mechanism

Operationalisation of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM)

  • Rwanda and Ghana have been assessed. Reports were finalised in June 2005. A detailed a discussion will take place at the African Peer Review Forum Summit in Abuja in December 2005.

  • As you are aware, it is South Africa's turn to be assessed in terms of the APRM. in this regard, The first national consultative conference took place from 28-29 September 2005 and will be followed by a series of provincial consultative conferences and community level workshops where many constituencies will have the opportunity to make their inputs.

  • A national governing council of 15 members (civil society, government, business) has been established. The Secretariat of the APRM will interact with this body during the process of assessment.

  • There has been engagement with representatives of Higher Education institutions and bodies that protect the constitutional rights of South African citizens and residents.

  • In line with the APRM guidelines, the review process will culminate in a country assessment report and a Programme of Action (PoA). The APRM questionnaire has been posted on the website of the Department of Public Service and Administration.

Peace, Security, Stability and Post-Conflict Reconstruction

DRC

  • DRC elections have been scheduled for March/April 2006. In this regard, preparations for these processes are at an advanced stage to ensure successful implementation. However, insufficient funding remains one of the major obstacles to the successful implementation of these processes.

  • Co-operation agreements between our various government departments and their counterparts in the DRC have been entered into with the objective of building capacity and strengthen service delivery in that country. This includes bilateral co-operation in education, immigration, migration, local government as well as training of personnel in the public and police services.

  • The integration of the armed forces.

  • However, challenges in the form of safety and security are still prevalent in the Eastern part of the DRC where foreign armed groups mainly from neighbouring Rwanda have infiltrated that part of the country causing instability among the local population. On Monday the Congolese forces supported by the UN forces began an operation to forcibly disarm the FDLR.

  • South African Troop Deployment as at Wednesday, 2 November 2005:

    • 859 Troops supporting the UN Mission in the DRC

    • 28 SANDF Members supporting DRC government with regard to the integration of the armed forces

  • There have been reports by UN forces of sexual misconduct of our troops - this matter is being investigated by the Department of Defence - a report in this regard is being awaited.

Burundi

  • Burundi is now in its post-conflict reconstruction and development phase. This must be the emphasis of the international community.

  • However, South African Troop Deployment as at Wednesday, 2 November 2005:

    • 924 as part of the UN Mission

    • 378 offering VIP Protection under the auspices of the UN

  • Outstanding challenge remains: to integrate the FNL rebel group that is refusing to join the negotiations.

  • The new Burundian government has offered to enter into negotiations. Committee established to conduct these negotiations. Led by current chair of the ruling party - accompanied by four cabinet ministers.

  • The deadline for the FLN to disarm and join the peace process expired on the 31st of October 2005. The government has announced its intention to forcibly disarm the rebel group.

  • The FNL has issued a statement saying they do not recognise the current government.

  • However, there a big divisions within FNL because of this movement by the government with some factions refusing to negotiate. Result = FNL has been split into three groups (2 opting for negotiations).

  • There have been unconfirmed reports that the leader of FNL has been couped.

  • On the development front, the new President has been visiting provinces and has come up with a new plan for development - part of which is the promise to provide free education to primary school learners.

  • We as SA have indicated we will deploy inter-departmental teams of experts to Burundi to investigate government-to-government co-operation projects to implement post-conflict and reconstruction.

Ethiopia and Eritrea

  • Less than a week after Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned that a serious deterioration between Ethiopia and Eritrea could lead to "another round of devastating hostilities," the United Nations mission monitoring a ceasefire between the two countries reported today that the situation on the ground is tense.

  • The UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) said restrictions on its freedom of movement were continuing in both the central and western sectors on the Eritrean side following the ban imposed by the Asmara Government on UN helicopters.

  • Night movement of patrols is also being curtailed, seriously limiting the mission's ability to monitor the remaining 40 per cent of the Temporary Security Zone and adjacent areas, UNMEE said.

Cote d'Ivoire

  • In our last media briefing in September, we mentioned that on 31 August 2005 the South African Minister of Defence presented a report of the mediation team on Cote d'Ivoire to the Security Council.

  • The report outlined progress made by the mediation team in its engagements with the various Ivorian role-players.

  • A central concern is that the Disarmament and Demobilisation of 50,000 fighters, that was due to start on 31 July 2005, has yet not commenced. Also the disarmament of militias has not started.

  • Although President Gbagbo had, at the request of the Mediator, effected amendments to the laws on nationality, immigration and the IEC in order to bring these into line with the Pretoria Agreement, Former President Henri Konan Bedié of the Parti Democratique' de Cote d'Ivoire continued to promote the broad opposition strategy of establishing an interim government, which excludes President Gbagbo.

Decisions of the PSC meeting on 5 October 2005 in Addis Ababa

i. President Gbagbo shall remain Head of State during the abovementioned period,

ii. a new Prime Minister acceptable to all the Ivorian parties signatories to the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement shall be appointed. The Government, which he will lead, shall be composed of personalities proposed by the Ivorian parties signatories to the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement,

iii. the Government shall continue to discharge the responsibilities and tasks assigned to it by the Linas-Marcoussis and Accra III Agreements. The Ministers shall be accountable to the Prime Minister, who shall have full authority over his cabinet,

iv. the Prime Minister shall not be eligible to stand for the elections to be organised, in accordance with the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement,

v. in order to assist the Government in the implementation of its programme and consolidate and strengthen the existing follow-up Mechanisms, an International Working Group (IWG) shall be established at ministerial level, which shall meet once a month in Côte d'Ivoire to evaluate, monitor and follow-up the peace process, including the roadmap agreed upon in Pretoria and any other subsequent agreements, by stating the degree of co-operation of the parties and other actors concerned, their respect of the commitments made and, if necessary, any attitude likely to hamper the successful conclusion of the peace and reconciliation process in Côte d'Ivoire, and make appropriate recommendations to the AU Peace and Security Council and to the UN Security Council. The IWG shall receive regular reports from the Mediation Group mentioned in paragraph 10 (viii) of this decision,

vi. the IWG shall be chaired by the Foreign Minister of Nigeria, in his capacity as the representative of the Chair of the AU. The office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, the Special Representative of the Executive Secretary of ECOWAS in Côte d'Ivoire and the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission in Côte d'Ivoire shall serve as secretariat. The Secretariat shall be co-ordinated by the United Nations,

vii. the IWG shall be comprised of the following: Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa, France, United Kingdom, USA, United Nations, African Union, ECOWAS, European Union, the International Organisation of the Francophonie, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund,

viii. the day-to-day mediation shall be undertaken by the following representatives of the IWG: the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, the High Representative of the United Nations for elections in Côte d'Ivoire, the Special Envoy of South Africa, the Special Representative of the Executive Secretary of ECOWAS and the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission in Côte d'Ivoire. The Mediation Group shall be chaired by the Special Envoy of South Africa, as the representative of the AU Mediator

The Way forward

  • President Gbagbo remains President, the opposition have rejected this.

  • F-N has announced that their leader Soro is the new PM.

  • The new PM is expected to be announced soon.

FOOD SECURITY

  • Nearly 10 million people in six southern African states face severe food shortages and many will die unless the international community provides aid soon.

  • Still $157 million short of some $400 million it needs to help Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

  • The six countries, which are facing their fourth consecutive year of food shortages, have been hit by a combination of poor rains, inadequate fertilisers and seeds and the devastating AIDS epidemic.

  • The worst affected areas were Zimbabwe, where some 4.3 million people needed help, and Malawi where 2.9 million require assistance.

  • The United States has been the biggest donor so far, giving more than $104 million, while European Union states had contributed $64 million.

SOUTH SOUTH CO-OPERATION

  • The India, Brazil and South Africa Dialogue Forum (IBSA) during a consultative session on 14 September 2005 in New York, have concluded to streamline its activities to further pursue UN Reform and work closely together on the WTO negotiations.

  • It was also agreed to hold the IBSA forum at Summit level with the next meeting scheduled to take place in Brazil to discuss among other issues the: establishment of a multidisciplinary sectoral working group to work on a strategy on alternative sources of energy. There is also a proposal on concrete programmes to advance the MOU on Air Services Agreement as well a proposal on maritime transport; and the establishment of a Working Group Climate Change so as to afford continued engagement on the matter including the Gleneagles agenda.

WTO

  • As we approach the 6th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2005 in Hong Kong, South Africa's objectives are to enhance market access for products of export interests of developing countries; eliminate industrial country subsidies and support to inefficient producers; re-negotiate rules that perpetuate imbalances in the international trade regime and ensure appropriate policy space for developing countries to pursue development including by meaningful implementation of special and differential treatment.

  • On the non-agricultural market access, South Africa's immediate focus is on finalising technical work to clarify the parameters of a possible tariff reduction formula.

  • On services, South Africa's focus will be on finalising its initial offer to the WTO and forging a common approach with other developing countries to counteract pressure to those that seek greater ambition by altering the agreed negotiating format.

  • On development, the 6th Ministerial Council will need to deliver a package of measures that include: decisions in favour of lower developing countries (bound duty free access to industrial markets, flexibility on some rules); a final resolution to the issues of TRIPS and Public Health; addressing the issues of the impact cotton subsidies on African countries expeditiously; and a clear vision of advancing aid for trade for those Members (many in Africa) who will obtain immediate benefits in the round and who will face adjustment costs from preference erosion.

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