Address to reception hosted by South African Mission in the Netherlands for key stakeholders, 22 September 2003

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a tremendous privilege to be in the Netherlands given the support given by the people of this country to us during the struggle against apartheid. This evening we celebrate our superb relations and recommit ourselves to work even harder to deepen our historical relationship with this country.

This great country has had a long tradition in supporting multilateralism. The great Dutch Scholar, Hugo de Groot, was one of the first to develop the idea that we today call multilateralism, and laid the foundation of many of the principles that are fundamental to how nations relate to each other.

Just after the Second World War, nations of the world made a collective vow to do their utmost to prevent a repeat of the horror of war, and founded the United Nations, based on multilateralism, a system of global governance that should bind us all.

This country, and indeed this city, plays a central role in this system of multilateralism. The Hague has become the "legal capital" of the world, first as the seat of the International Court of Justice, and then in time, of a number of other important multilateral judicial institutions.

Earlier this year, my colleague Dr Penuell Maduna, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, attended the inauguration of the International Criminal Court, the latest multilateral legal institution to be based in The Hague.

South Africa has been one of the first to ratify the Treaty of Rome and we are very proud that a South African, Judge Pillay, was chosen to be one of the judges of the ICC. We are also particularly pleased to note the gender balance of the ICC.

Ladies and gentlemen, you would be aware of the new approach to governance and new way of doing things being adopted in the African continent. The African Union and its key programmes, such as the New Partnership for Africa's development, are aimed at placing African countries on a new path of sustainable development. This includes the need to resolve the conflicts plaguing the continent.

We are tying to play our own role in conflict resolution in countries such as Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and others. The AU is sending a strong message that the days of tolerating coups, and the wanton disregard of human rights are over.

We believe in negotiated solutions. But we also believe that there should be sanctions, and if need be, there should be the possibility to charge those guilty of crimes against humanity before an international court, the International Criminal Court.

The establishment of the International Court of Justice was an acknowledgement of the need for an international court. The ICC has been the next logical step in enhancing multilateralism.

Let us all work hard to strengthen multilateralism and discourage unilateralism, which destabilises international relations.

Thank you for your support of South Africa, we value your friendship.

I thank you.

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa