Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma's Opening
Address at the AU Common African Defence and Security
Policy Meeting, 27 - 29 March 2003, Randburg Towers,
Continental Experts on Defence and Security,
Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the Government and people of South Africa,
I would like to welcome you to this southern tip of
Africa .It gives me a great pleasure to welcome you
to the first meeting of Experts on the Common
African Defence and Security Policy.
At the July 2002 Durban Summit, The Heads of State and
Government took the decision that a "Common African
Defence and Security Policy" should be developed.
We gather at a time when the war in Iraq is dominating
the hearts and minds of people throughout the globe.
This reminds us of the untold suffering and destruction
that is caused by any war.
The decision taken by our leaders was very correct and
timely since as small and weak states our only hope
for survival is in multilateralism. The centrality of
the UN is more important than ever before. As a continent,
which is the cradle of humanity, bound together by geography,
history and our cultural heritage our destiny is inseparable.
We have to defend ourselves and our continent.
It is therefore not suprising that we would like to
share a common defence and security policy. This should
allow us to prevent inter-state conflicts and to minimise
internal conflicts and deal with external aggression
where a collective response is necessary.
In the next three days we shall be engaged in an effort
to develop our continental defence policy. This process
will lead to a common approach and a collective response
to the calamities and conflicts we may encounter in
It has taken forty years since this concept was first
muted at the founding conference of the OAU, proposed
by one of our heroes, the late Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana.
Of course there has been many steps taken as the continental
organisation has evolved and matured.
The post-cold war era did not usher in a period of security,
democracy, stability and development. We seem to have
entered a phase of internal conflicts, fights for the
control of the natural resources including the most
tragic genocide in Rwanda. It seems we are facing a
danger of a weakening if not destruction of the UN.
We must of course not allow this to happen.
The establishment of the AU has given us new opportunities
to examine the security situation on our continent.
The founding law of our Union, the Constitutive Act
has already defined conditions under which a collective
response is required. We now have to elaborate on the
policies contained in the Constitutive Act. The Peace
and Security Council will give us the tools with which
It is necessary that our discussions take cognisance
of instruments already in existence. As individual member-states,
we have obligations towards UN agreements and those
agreements and treaties concluded under the auspices
of the OAU and now the AU, as well as regional commitments.
These existing instruments have given us a wealth of
experiences from which we may draw lessons.
As such we have to be careful not to recast positions
already in existence such as the African Charter on
Human and Peoples Rights, the NEPAD, the Protocol
on Terrorism, to name but a few. We have to be guided
throughout our deliberations by the need to respect
human rights, which plays a role in preventing violent
Our discussions must look at the primary responsibility
that member-states have, in making collective decisions
regarding the defence and security of their own citizens.
Clear emphasis should be placed on the peaceful resolution
of conflicts, whether between states or within states.
This is of particular importance while we still have
unresolved conflicts on our continent, such as the situation
in Cote dIvoire, the Central African Republic
We need to go beyond the traditional definitions of
defence and security and build a basis for future co-operations
by sharing intelligence, establishing centres of excellence
for training and through these means build trust and
A careful definition of what constitutes military threats
is required. In this context, the role of the Peace
and Security Council needs to be stipulated. Emphasis
needs to be placed on conflict resolution by peaceful
means such as diplomacy, good offices, negotiations
and mediation etc.
Serious consideration should be given to how we treat
conflicts within and between states and the function
of the Peace and Security Council under these circumstances.
We have an opportunity to develop a truly modern and
progressive instrument learning from the mistakes and
successes of others that have done it before us.
I would like to wish you every success in your deliberations
and I trust that you will be able to present the Extra-Ordinary
Executive Council Session in May with concrete results.
I thank you.