We will continue to work for peace and security in the world by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (www.sundayindependent.co.za, 20101212)
South Africa was on October 12, 2010 re-elected by 182 countries as a non-permanent member of the UN’s Security Council (UNSC) for the period 2011 to 2012.
As a country, South Africa will do everything in its power not to betray the confidence of the UN Member States or the International community at large in our ability to contribute and further advance the course of international peace and security and international law during our tenure in the Security Council.
South Africa acknowledges that its membership on the Council brings with it heavy responsibilities and challenges, as UNSC members find themselves at the forefront of the international community’s efforts to resolve some of the most pressing peace and security issues facing the world. South Africa will be expected to chair at least one, subsidiary body and be a lead national on one of the country-specific agenda items of the UNSC.
We therefore will need to balance the often divergent expectations of domestic constituencies and international audiences. As such, South Africa will have to contend with the formidable limitations that exist within the Security Council including a pre-determined agenda, and the reality of power and influence that are unevenly distributed within the council.
South Africa will be serving on the Council at a time of many challenges, such as the holding of a referendum in Southern Sudan, debates on the Iranian nuclear programme, the deteriorating condition in Somalia, the longstanding crisis in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question, and the eminent draw-down or exit of key UN peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad/Central African Republic. Countering terrorism is another priority in the international arena.
Our role in the Security Council will be informed by the central thrust of our foreign policy, which stands on four pillars:
- Promoting and advancing the interests of our continent, including the SADC sub-region;
- Working with countries of the South to address challenges of underdevelopment, our marginalisation in the international system, and promote equity and social justice globally;
- Work with countries of the North to develop a true and effective partnership for a better world; and
- Do our part to streghthen the multilateral system, including its tranformation to reflect the diversity of our nations, and ensure its centrality in global governance.
In this regard, we will continue with our efforts that are aimed at bringing greater alignment to the work of the Security Council and that of the African Union, especially the AU Peace and Security Council of which South Africa is currently a member. Closer co-operation between the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council will contribute to enhancing the convergence of perspectives and approaches of the two bodies in the tackling and responding to peace and security challenges in Africa.
We will continue our firm resolved to strengthen effective partnerships between the UN and regional organizations in the maintenance of international peace and security. This, we hope, will also help intensify the work SA has already undertaken in conflict prevention and resolution, peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction in many African countries.
In addition to working for peace and security in the world, we believe the UN is a leader in advancing development at the global level, promoting human rights, and protecting our planet and its people. Indeed, for us, peace and security development, and good governance, go hand-in-hand. This is a thinking that informs our approach to the integration of our continent for greater unity. This is the thinking that gave birth to Nepad, and its African Peer Review Mechanism.
As South Africa, we are privileged to have been, and continue to be, an active part of these initiatives aimed at contributing to the global effort to promote peace and security, development, and human rights. South Africa’s vision of the African continent is one that is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and united and which contributes to a world that is just and equitable.
Accordingly, in anticipation of our election to the Security Council, we have taken necessary measures to ensure that we indeed learn from our 2007/2008 experience. We are going to need a strong co-ordination effort on the part of the government to enable us to improve on our capacity to respond rapidly and effectively when required to do so.
We will be communicating more, better and faster with our people, every step of the way, especially regarding positions we will take on debates within the Security Council. Important though, is that we will not trade our constitutional values and the rich tradition of struggle against injustice for political point-scoring. South Africans have to trust our judgment and never doubt our loyalty to our Constitution.
All in all, South Africa recognises the importance of continuing to work together with all members of the AU and the UN in pursuit of an effective system of global governance.