Joint Communiqué of the Inaugural Meeting of the South Africa – The Netherlands Joint Commission for Cooperation, 3 February 2020

1. South Africa and the Netherlands signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of a Joint Commission for Cooperation on 19 November 2015, which provides for regular meetings chaired by the Ministers or Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two countries in order to facilitate consultation and cooperation in various fields.

2. Dr Naledi Pandor, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, hosted the Inaugural Meeting of the Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) in Pretoria on 3 February 2020. The delegation of the Netherlands was led by Mr Stef Blok, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

3. During their opening remarks at the JCC, both Ministers expressed their satisfaction with the strong, broad and friendly relationship that exists between South Africa and the Netherlands. They also expressed their desire for these relations to grow in substance and diversity. The issues on the agenda included the following:

4. African Continental Issues

4.1. The Ministers exchanged views on developments on the African continent, focusing specifically on peace and security, Africa’s economic development, and relations between the African Union and the European Union. Minister Pandor elaborated on the outcomes that South Africa expects to achieve during its chairship of the African Union this year, as well as South Africa’s expectations for the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.

4.2. Both Ministers agreed to promote closer collaboration between the African Union and the European Union on issues such as climate change, jobs and investment, as well as migration and mobility.

5. Multilateral Issues

5.1. South Africa and the Netherlands emphasised their shared commitment to multilateralism, respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and acknowledged the high level of mutual understanding and coordination in multilateral affairs. Both countries underscored their intention to continue their cooperation on multilateral issues and the importance of human rights and a rules-based global governance system. More specifically, the JCC deliberated on a number of multilateral issues, including the following:

5.2. Climate

South Africa and the Netherlands are committed to the goals of the Paris Agreement made at COP21 in 2015.  Both nations are staunch supporters of multilateral cooperation in the efforts to implement the Paris Agreement and to reach its objectives. The countries look ahead to an important year to advance collective efforts to address climate change and to strengthen the global push for climate ambition and action for adaptation and mitigation. South Africa and the Netherlands are amongst the convening countries of the Global Commission on Adaptation, which aims to catalyse a global adaptation movement. Minister Blok informed Minister Pandor of the Climate Adaptation Summit to be held in Amsterdam on 22 October 2020 and invited a delegation from South Africa.

5.3. International Rule of Law and International Justice

South Africa and the Netherlands are committed to the international rule of law and international justice. Legal disputes between countries of the world should be settled in accordance with international law. South Africa and the Netherlands support the global fight to end impunity. International justice contributes to long‐term peace, stability and equitable development. South Africa and the Netherlands are both signatories and Parties to the Rome Statute of 1998, establishing the International Criminal Court.

5.4. Truth, justice and accountability for the downing of flight MH17

South Africa and the Netherlands both underlined the importance of truth, justice and accountability for the downing of flight MH17.

5.5. Cyber Security

South Africa and the Netherlands discussed international challenges related to cyber security. Both countries underscored the importance of closer international cooperation in order to develop consensus at the international level for action to ensure the stability of cyberspace.

The Netherlands indicated the interest of the Dutch Ambassador-at-Large for Security Policy and Cyber, Mr Timo Koster, of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to visit South Africa in 2020. The Netherlands and South Africa agreed that regional cooperation on cyber security should be stimulated and to this effect, the Netherlands will support a regional conference on cyber security to be held in South Africa in 2020.

5.6. Human Rights

Both Ministers reiterated their respective Governments’ commitment to the protection and promotion of universal human rights and agreed to enhance cooperation in this field. In this regard, Minister Blok announced that the Human Rights Ambassador of the Netherlands was expected to visit South Africa in 2020.

South Africa and the Netherlands will continue their cooperation within the United Nations international framework to promote human rights. Priority topics are sexual and reproductive health, women’s rights and equal rights of LGBTI persons.

Bilateral Relations

6.1. Consular Relations

Citizens of South Africa and the Netherlands frequently travel between both countries. For business, education, family reunification, tourism and other purposes. A large number of citizens from both countries reside in South Africa and in the Netherlands. South Africa and the Netherlands are committed to provide to their citizens excellent consular services. South Africa and the Netherlands agreed on continuing their good cooperation between governments with regard to consular and visa services.

6.2. Trade and Investment Promotion

South Africa and the Netherlands have an intensive trade and investment relationship. Both Ministers agreed to build upon these strong economic relations and broaden the scope of cooperation. South Africa and the Netherlands will continue to stimulate economic and trade missions between both countries, as well as stimulating and broadening the scope of private sector development and sustainable trade and investments.

In the area of agriculture, cooperation is aimed at climate-related solutions, supporting bilateral trade, agro logistics, supporting developing farmers and research and education. 

South Africa and the Netherlands will continue to work on reducing possible trade or investment challenges experienced by the private sector. Ministers discussed economic policies that contribute to an enabling business and investment climate (including land reforms). An area that has gained significant attention in the recent past were export/import restrictions that are hampering business development on both sides. South Africa and the Netherlands agreed that anti-dumping and safeguard measures should have a sound base in line with the EPA agreement.

6.3. Climate

South Africa and the Netherlands look forward to continuing their bilateral cooperation on climate. Ministers agreed there is mutual benefit in working together on environmental themes and to build upon the areas of collaboration identified during the mission to South Africa of Dutch Climate Envoy Mr Marcel Beukeboom in November 2019, namely waste management, circular economy, hydrogen, renewable energy, water & climate smart agriculture. South Africa and the Netherlands share a commitment to the empowerment of youth in the area of climate. 

6.4. Science and Innovation

Science and technology relations between South Africa and the Netherlands are managed by a Joint Working Committee. Two meetings of the Committee have already taken place, the most recent of which was held in Pretoria on 1 April 2019. The third meeting of the Joint Working Committee is scheduled to be held in the Netherlands in 2021.

The National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Dutch organisation for internationalization in education (NUFFIC) awarded 25 PhD scholarships to South Africans to be placed in various Dutch institutions after an agreement in this regard was signed in 2017.

The NRF and NWO will finance joint research projects as from 2020, focusing on Sustainable Development Goals in the area of Water-Energy-Food Nexus. South Africa and the Netherlands are also proud of joint cooperation in the field of Science & Technology such as the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), the Orange Knowledge programme and inter-institutional collaboration on student exchange, joint degrees, joint research and PhDs.

The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) have identified open science as a fruitful area for collaboration.

6.5. Water Management

South Africa and the Netherlands have an excellent and longstanding cooperation on water management. It includes a broad range of topics including water supply, sanitation and water governance, as well as climate change adaptation and drought challenges. The Netherlands continues to offer strategic and technical assistance to the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan.

The “Blue Deal”, which will provide 2.5 million people in South Africa with clean, safe and enough water, will launch in 2020 with the assistance of the Dutch Water Authorities.

6.6. Culture

South Africa and the Netherlands expressed their intention to continue their close cooperation in the cultural sector, as an integral part of mutual knowledge and understanding of their people, the past and historical ties.

7. It was agreed that the Second Meeting of the Joint Commission for Cooperation should be held in the Netherlands before the end of 2022.

The Joint Communiqué of the Inaugural Meeting of the South Africa – Netherlands Joint Commission for Cooperation was signed in Pretoria on 3 February 2020.

Dr GNM Pandor
Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa
  Mr SA Blok
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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