Media Statement

24 October 2019

Statement by the South African Government on the occasion of the United Nations Day

The Government and people of South Africa join the international community today, on United Nations (UN) Day, 24 October 2019, in celebrating the 74th anniversary of the United Nations and to mark the entry into force of the United Nations Charter in 1945.

South Africa was one of the 51 founding member of the United Nations in 1945. Since its inception, UN membership has grown to 193 States. The United Nations General Assembly, on 12 November 1974, suspended South Africa from participating in its work, due to international opposition to the policy of apartheid. The adoption by consensus of the General Assembly resolution on the “Declaration of Apartheid and its Destructive Consequences in Southern Africa,” in 1984 called for negotiations to end apartheid and establish a non-racial democracy.

Following South Africa’s first democratic elections on 27 April 1994, South Africa was re-admitted to the UN and has pursued a foreign policy based on the centrality of the UN in the multilateral system.

This year, South Africa celebrates its 25th anniversary as a democratic state. The contribution that the United Nations has made to the people of South Africa, through its role in the dismantling of the inhumane and oppressive system of apartheid, will always be hailed and appreciated. The United Nations as a system of global governance has made an immense contribution in maintaining international peace and security, fostering cooperation among states, promoting development, the adherence to the rule of law and respect for human rights.  It has also played a pivotal role in educating and informing the global community about challenges the world currently faces.

In an era where multilateralism is being challenged in favour of populism, unilateralism, tensions over control of strategic resources and geopolitical influence, it is imperative to note that although the sovereignty of states need to be respected, no country is an island and, as such, needs to work with other countries to achieve its objectives, better the lives of its people and the world at large.

The current challenges faced by the world and the transnational nature of new and emerging threats to global peace, security and development, render it impossible for states to effectively respond individually, thus requiring collective action.

South Africa welcomes this year’s call by the Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres of observing this day by calling upon world leaders to commit to immediate action against the devastating effects of climate change.

This year’s celebration of United Nations Day is as relevant today is it was at its inception on the 24th of October 1948. Multilateralism remains the only way to achieve equality, common purpose and action in world affairs today.

In line with the theme of the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly, Member States recognize the importance of “Galvanizing multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion.” It is, therefore, vital that the UN, as the premier universal intergovernmental organization, remains effective and relevant to ensure that the objectives set out by its Member States, through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, are achieved.

This landmark agreement adopted in 2015 highlights the interconnected nature of human rights, peace and security and development and outlines Member States’ aspirations for global sustainable development through justice, peace, human rights, protection for the environment, inclusiveness and equality.

South Africa will, in this regard, continue to defend and promote the primacy of the United Nations as a system of global governance through which current challenges facing the international community, including in the areas of peace and security, sustainable development and human rights, could be resolved.

As Minister Pandor has said during her address at the General Debate of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly: “South Africa stands ready to work with all Member States to promote the United Nations and its objectives of promoting international peace and security, development and human rights so that all our people can live together in the larger freedom the founders sought”.

Enquiries: Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for DIRCO, 082 884 5974

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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