Media Statement

24 December 2018

South Africa to continue to play significant role in the multilateral arena in 2019

Following the passing of the resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar on 22 December 2018 in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said that South Africa's vote in support of the resolution is a demonstration of a new dawn in South African foreign policy and a return to its founding principles of standing against human rights violations.

The Minister added that South Africa's support for the resolution is in line with its new way of approaching resolutions in all multilateral bodies.

“All resolutions on country-specific situations will be assessed with different stakeholders involved,” Minister Sisulu said.

The Minister will hold a seminar with diplomats early next year to discuss the UN Security Council (UNSC) programme and South Africa's obligations within the UN system.

“2019 is an exciting year for South Africa as we take our non-permanent seat in the UNSC for the next two years. I will engage diplomats early next year to discuss our approach and the issues we should focus on during our tenure, among them being silencing the guns in Africa; addressing the scourge of extremism and terrorism; and protecting women, children and civilians in conflict situations," Minister Sisulu said.

The Minister added that 2018 was an outstanding year for South African diplomacy, from chairing various bodies and groupings such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) to hosting the SADC Council of Ministers Meeting, the 10th BRICS Summit and the IORA Ministerial Meeting.

“South Africa used all of these platforms to celebrate the legacy of former President Mandela and to highlight the plight of women and children in conflict areas across the world, IORA also launched the Mandela “be the legacy” scholarship to encourage young people within IORA to follow in the ideals of former President Mandela,” Minister Sisulu said. The world also welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa's maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and more than hundred leaders addressed the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit convened by the UNGA in honour of the centenary of the birth of former President Mandela. South Africa, as co-chair of FOCAC, made the African agenda of free trade and connecting the people of Africa a priority during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) where South Africa handed over the FOCAC Africa co-chairship to Senegal.

“Our diplomats across the world have done a great deal of work in promoting and protecting the image of South Africa. As we approach 2019, our diplomats will continue to lead in mobilising investment and promoting South Africa as an investment and tourism destination, thus contributing to job creation and poverty eradication.  In 2019, we will also continue to focus on development, peace and security on the continent,” Minister Sisulu said.

The Minister added that Africa and the SADC region remains a strategic foreign policy priority for South Africa. “We believe that stability in the SADC region and the continent is the cornerstone for socio-economic development in our country and in Africa. We will work with all in the region and continent to achieve an Africa free of conflict and to fast-track the implementation of the African Union's Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (CFTA) so that business people in the SADC region and the rest of the continent can do business easily with one another. South Africa is striving to become the business capital on the continent and a transport and technology connection hub. Our sophisticated financial and modern transport sector is playing an important role in developing the SADC region's infrastructure. SADC must be connected through road, rail and air transport, as well as technology and communications for business to grow,” Minister Sisulu said.

South Africa will continue to highlight the plight of the people of Palestine and Western Sahara and support all efforts for total liberation of the people of Western Sahara.

Enquiries: Mr Ndivhuwo Mabaya, / 083 645 7838


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