An Annual Address by the Director-General of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba at the 70th Anniversary Celebrations of the South African Institute of International Affairs, 20 May 2004

South Africa's Foreign Policy Since 1994

Mr Chairman


Ambassadors and High Commissioners

Ladies & Gentlemen

I would like to thank you for this invitation to address this evening's meeting at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) on the occasion of the celebration of 70 years of existence of an Institute that has played a significant role in African foreign policy. This celebration also comes at a time when the people of our country have joined together to celebrate 10 years of democracy. Thus today's commemoration ought to be seen as a double celebration.

I would like to pay tribute to those SAIIA staff members and National Directors who throughout its history have steered the Institute towards becoming a leading academic think-tank. I would also like to congratulate SAIIA on the launch of its new publication: "Apartheid Past, Renaissance Future - Ten Years of South African Foreign Policy". I believe that this book will also serve as a valuable reference work in the years to come.

As we reach these milestones in our history as a nation and as this Institute, it would be fitting to point to those who even at the beginning of the last century were conscious of the challenges that lay ahead for future generations and who managed to articulate concerns that we are still grappling with today, even as we live in new times.

In 1901 in a young democracy, as the American people looked forward to a bright future, Theodore Roosevelt in his presidential acceptance speech in front of the American people was as bold as to say that:

"We belong to a young nation, already of giant strength, yet whose present strength is but a forecast of what still is to come… East and west we look across the two great oceans toward the larger world-life in which, whether we will or not, we must take an ever-increasing share. And as, keen eyed, we gaze into the coming years, duties new and old rise thick and fast to confront us from within and from without."

Three years later writing in the same country, the great thinker, W.E.B. Du Bois began his important work The Souls of Black Folk by speaking of what it means to be black in a new century. He writes that:

"Herein lie buried many things which if read with patience may show the strange meaning of being black here in the dawning of the Twentieth Century. This meaning is not without interest to you, Gentle Reader; for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line.

Writing in "The Conservation of Races" Du Bois went on to say that:

"No people that laughs at itself, and ridicules itself, and wishes to God it was anything but itself ever wrote its name in history; it must be inspired with the Divine faith of our black mothers, that out of the blood and dust of battle will march a victorious host, a mighty nation, a peculiar people, to speak to the nations of earth a Divine truth shall make them free."

Yet again three years later in 1906, speaking here on African soil, Pixley Ka Seme, spoke of the regeneration of Africa:

'The African people, although not a strictly homogenous race, possess a common fundamental sentiment which is everywhere manifest, crystallizing itself into one common controlling idea… Agencies of a social, economic and religious advance tell of a new spirit which, acting as a leavening ferment, shall raise the anxious and aspiring mass to the level of their ancient glory… The regeneration of Africa means that a new and unique civilization is soon to be added to the world…. The most essential departure of this new civilization is that it shall be thoroughly spiritual and humanistic - indeed a regeneration, moral and eternal."

The significance of these quotations or voices we could call them speaking to us across a century is that the agenda was being set already a hundred years ago for what the main concerns would be of the world. The gaze of America was already on other lands and on other peoples, a new nation conscious of its own strengths and powers, both real and potential, as it sought to project itself as a world power.

Du Bois had already articulated the pervasive issue of race and racism that as South Africans and Africans, under colonialism and apartheid, we have had to deal with and overcome. On the ruins of our painful past, we have had to face the challenge of building a new, non-racial and non-sexist democratic country and of forging unity and asserting the freedom of all our people, both black and white, in shaping a better continent and a better world.

Our consciousness of our role in the world has led us to embrace an African agenda, to strive towards the renewal of our continent, which thinkers such as Du Bois and Marcus Garvey in the African Diaspora, as well as leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah, Nyerere and others have articulated and further expanded upon over many decades. What was wholly new for us, was that for the first time, with the attainment of democracy in South Africa, in what came to be called the second wave of democracy to sweep the African continent, the African people now had it within their own grasp to build their economies and to bring about social and cultural advancement. Our national liberation was thus crucial, not only for ourselves, but for a continent whose future was at stake. Ours was the new generation who would have to ensure an end to the impoverishment of the African continent and to embark on processes that would lead to prosperity and sustained development.

It is with this in mind that the vision and mission of the Department of Foreign Affairs is to strive for peace, stability, democracy and development on an African continent, which is non-sexist, prosperous and united. It is coming from this history that we set our sights on contributing to a world that is just and equitable. This is why we strive for an African Renaissance and the creation of a better world for all. South Africa continues to entrench democracy and a culture of human rights.

The Department has been and still is committed to promoting South Africa's national values as espoused in our Constitution.

In the realisation of its Vision and in the execution of its Mission, the Department is guided by the core values of loyalty, dedication, ubuntu, equity and professional integrity. These internal core values are manifested in South Africa's foreign policy.

It is important to underscore that South Africa's foreign policy is premised upon its national interests, domestic policies and values. Domestically, South Africa is committed to bringing about a better life for all in an environment of peace, stability and security, by creating "people-centered security". Yet this objective can only be achieved in an international environment characterised by global peace and security and an equitable and just system.

South Africa has continued to develop its foreign policy on the principles that characterised our first decade of democracy. The consistency, with which the principled positions of South Africa have been applied, even under some very difficult international conditions, has been important in projecting the independence and progressive nature of South Africa's foreign policy. This consistency allows the Department to also look forward with confidence at how it will continue to shape its policy positions and institutionally adapt itself to the changing demands of international relations in the future.

Above all, in pursuit of a more humane, people-centred world and in working towards the regeneration of Africa and the nurturing of "a new and unique civilization" that Du Bois spoke about nearly a hundred years ago, the context of South Africa's foreign policy is firmly rooted in Africa and the South.

In renewing the basis of its ties with its Southern African neighbours and other African States, South Africa sought to exemplify good neighbourliness and to use its relative strength on the continent to foster mutual development. South Africa has become one of the critical players in shaping the developmental agenda of the Continent. This is demonstrated by the fact that South Africa is a founding member of the African Union (AU) and has been influential in the conceptualisation and promotion of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). The strengthening of SADC is also important as part of our efforts for a better region.

Regarding global governance, our efforts are aimed at the reconstruction of an international order in which multilateralism and international law prevail. At a time when multilateralism and the whole multilateral system that have been built up over the past fifty years seem to be under threat, South Africa, together with others, will have to find ways to defend, protect and strengthen that system.

Through the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and other organisations of the South we recognise our responsibility to play key roles in this unfolding challenge.

In its efforts to work towards a stable, peaceful and prosperous world for all, South Africa has provided humanitarian and disaster relief assistance to the global community where its resources permitted. The country has actively engaged in mediation as well as participating in peace-keeping operations in conflict situations in Africa and beyond. South Africa had, together with other African States, played a crucial role in the establishment of the African Union's Peace and Security Council (PSC).

Furthermore, as we endeavour to redress the economic disparities of the past, globally we act as part of a collective that is building bridges and narrowing the divide between the South and the North. We approach this engagement as partisan actors driven by the developmental interest of the South and Africa in particular.

South Africa has sought innovative ways of meeting these challenges by becoming an active agent of progressive change and developing networks with partners of the South and the North.

Through South-South co-operation and North-South dialogue, South Africa has sought to consolidate an agenda for the South and to build a concrete partnership with the North to forge a common vision for meeting the pressing challenges faced by the global community, including peace and security, good governance and sustainable development.

Under the guidance of the objective to create "a better life for all" South Africa has strategically accepted leading positions over the past decade and continues to nurture the high respect that its moral leadership has received. We continue to be seen as a hope for others who wish to achieve a people-centred global order through the constructive and innovative ways in which we are attempting to deal with the problem of our two economies, the rich, technologically driven first economy on the one hand and the poor, underdeveloped second economy on the other.

Furthermore, we have actively worked with the peoples of the South to achieve a more equitable and just world order. In this regard, we, together with our partners, are advocating a rules-based global trading regime through the Doha Development Round in which the needs and concerns of the developing world are taken into account.

Mr Chairman

Against the above backdrop, I would now like to focus on some of South Africa's key foreign policy areas, namely:
· Global Governance;
· Consolidation and implementation of the African Agenda;
· North-South Dialogue;
· South-South Co-operation; and
· Strengthening of bilateral political and economic relations

South Africa has, since its re-entry into the United Nations (UN) family, committed itself to multilateralism and the recognition of the UN as the primary multilateral body to ensure collective peace and security, as well as facilitating economic and social development. In order to deal effectively with future challenges, South Africa fully supports the revitalisation and reform of the principal organs of the UN.

The Secretary-General of the UN, Mr Kofi Annan, appointed a High-Level Panel in November 2003 "to recommend clear and practical measures for ensuring effective collective action on future threats to peace and security". The South African Government supports the appointment of the Panel and eagerly awaits its outcome. The principles guiding South Africa's position with regard to the work of the Panel are fundamental to the Department's vision and mission. These include:

· Broader multilateral approaches provide legitimacy to actions and ensure that solutions to questions of international peace and security are more sustainable over the medium to long term.

· Global poverty and under-development are the principal problems facing the UN and there is a direct inter-relationship between the maintenance of international peace and security, and poverty and under-development.

· The multilateral system needs to be enabled to adequately address the concerns of the major powers with regard to perceived new threats such as terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. If this is not done, States that have the power to do so, will act unilaterally or in ad-hoc coalitions outside the UN system to neutralise such perceived threats.

The terror attacks in the US on September 11, 2001 and subsequent ones across the world have brought the issue of terrorism to the fore. South Africa fully supports the global campaign against terrorism within the framework of the UN and contributes to the efforts of regional and other multilateral organisations in this regard, such as Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the AU, the NAM and Commonwealth.

However, in the international campaign against terrorism, South Africa regards it as important to also focus on the root causes of terrorism and to develop appropriate strategies to address them. In this regard, concerted efforts must be made to end perennial conflicts such as those in the Middle East. The international campaign against terrorism should include a world-wide commitment to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment. The issue of terrorism should not push poverty eradication off the international agenda. Similarly, the combating of terrorism should not take place at the expense of civil liberties and human rights.

Closer to home, South Africa has taken concrete actions to combat international terrorism. For example, the Inter-Departmental-Counter-Terrorism Working Group, chaired by the Department of Foreign Affairs, coordinates South Africa's implementation of the various UN Security Council resolutions, including the compilation of the country's National Reports to the Security Council. In addition to this, the Department also coordinates all actions required to ensure that the country fully complies with the UN Security Council sanctions regimes.

In addition to terrorism, other global security matters are high on South Africa's foreign policy agenda and will remain there for some time to come. South Africa is deeply concerned about the acts of violence and counter-violence in Israel/. There is an urgent need for both parties to meet in order to break this ever-deepening cycle of violence. The South African Government has repeatedly called on the UN, members of the Quartet and the international community to take the necessary steps to ensure commitment to and implementation of the Road Map.

Similarly, our concerns are with the ordinary people of Iraq and thus the future of this country remains high on our international agenda. The continued violence and instability in that country holds every potential to derail current efforts to place Iraq on the road towards peace, stability and prosperity.

We are also deeply concerned at the reports of the torture of Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison by troops from the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Such actions are a violation of international law, the Geneva Conventions, and in contravention of all human rights instruments and treaties that specifically outlaw all forms of torture. Our Government has joined international calls for an expedited independent inquiry into the conduct of the CPA forces and into other reports that indicate similar patterns of abuse.

South Africa also believes that the opposition forces in Iraq should pursue their political objectives through peaceful means. It is the Iraqi people who suffer in the current climate of violence and counter-violence, and it is the future of Iraq that is put into the balance by an atmosphere of fear and insecurity. Considerably more needs to be done to restore peace and security in Iraq to effect the smooth transfer of power to the Iraqi people. This also means the clarification of the role of the UN in this regard.

In his address to the 58th Session of UN General Assembly in 2003, President Thabo Mbeki stated that :

"… Matters have evolved in such a manner that, to our limited understanding, it seems extremely difficult to resolve the issue of the role of the United Nations in Iraq, unless we answer the question about the future of the UN as the legitimate expression of the collective will of the peoples of the world, the principal guarantor of international peace and security, among other global issues. We could say that what is decided about the role of the UN in Iraq will at the same time decide what will become of the UN in the context of its Charter and the important global objectives that have been taken since the Charter was adopted. "

South Africa remains concerned about the continued unilateralist tendencies of some key international role-players on issues of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control. This phenomenon has had, amongst others, a negative impact on the prospects for the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), the strengthening of the implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and the future of multilateralism in the disarmament and non-proliferation arena, in general.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation and remains the only international instrument that strives to not only prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, but also contains the legal commitment for their elimination. South Africa believes that the international community must redouble its efforts to achieve universal adherence to the NPT, strengthen the multilateral institutions responsible for disarmament and non-proliferation issues, and be vigilant against any steps that could undermine the determination of the international community to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. South Africa's delegation to the NPT Preparatory Committee Meeting (PrepCom) in New York in early May 2004, continued to play a constructive role in paving the way for negotiations to continue on the Treaty at the 2005 NPT Review Process.

Mr Chairman

To successfully deal with global challenges, we will also have to look at the structural imbalance in the global trading system.

At Cancun, in September last year, this situation was challenged. The emergence of the G20+ was a key development. The goals of the G20+ were premised on the common objectives of creating free and fair agricultural markets in international trade and of bringing an end to trade subsidies.

South Africa is convinced that Cancun provides an opportunity to place future World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations on a firm footing.

The occurrence of post-conflict economies especially in Africa, makes the need for more ODA, a reality that cannot be ignored. The challenges faced by these post-conflict economies in terms of reconstruction are enormous and require the assistance of the international community by fulfilling their pledge of increased ODA.

Mr Chairman

As mentioned in my introductory remarks earlier, the future of South Africa is inextricably linked to that of the African continent.

A fundamental shift in South Africa's foreign policy occurred in 1994 when the country, for the first time, became a Member State of the OAU.

In his statement at the OAU Summit in Tunis, former President Nelson Mandela stated:

"… At this summit meeting in Tunis, we shall remove from our agenda the consideration of the question of 'Apartheid South Africa'. Where South Africa appears on the agenda again, let it be because we want to discuss what its contribution shall be to the making of the new African renaissance …There can be no dispute among us that we must bend every effort to rebuild the African economies …"

South Africa's national vision of building a united, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society is also part of its striving for the people of our continent. Coupled with this is the understanding that socio-economic development cannot take place without political peace and stability, and inversely, that political peace and stability are the prerequisite for socio-economic development. Since joining the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the AU, in June 1994, South Africa, together with other African States, have been seized with the creation of an environment in which all states on the continent could achieve their full potential.

A major challenge for South Africa's foreign policy regarding our Continent, is the consolidation and implementation of the African Agenda.

In this regard, Southern Africa commands a special priority in our foreign policy. Since the advent of a democratic process in 1994, South Africa, together with other Member States of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), have been fully involved in the restructuring of the organisation, with the objective of increasing its efficiency and effectiveness in order to eliminate poverty and underdevelopment. In this regard, the following achievements are worth mentioning:

Ø The rationalisation of 19 sector coordinating units located in different member states, to four centralised Directorates at the Secretariat in Gaborone, Botswana;
Ø The development and adoption of the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), a 15 year development plan for the region, informed by NEPAD;
Ø The development and adoption of the SADC Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security;
Ø The development and adoption of the Strategic Indicative Plan of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security;
Ø The development, finalisation and adoption of the SADC Mutual Defence Pact; and
Ø The ratification of the SADC Trade Protocol in January 2000, confirming Member States' common commitment to the establishment of a Free Trade Area by 2008.

Now the task at hand, is the establishment of the SADC Common Market and the strengthening of SADC's institutional capacity.

Mr Chairman

Since the AU Inaugural Summit, South Africa as part of the AU Troika, has been grappling with the operationalisation of the AU organs and structures. This included the election of the Chairperson of the AU Commission, establishing the working protocols and functioning of the Assembly, Executive Council and the Permanent Representatives of the AU. Considerable work was done to ensure the development and adoption of the Common Defence and Security Policy, which led to the establishment of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of which South Africa is a member. The PSC is poised to play a significant role in ensuring the achievement of peace, stability and security as well as peace-keeping missions in Africa.

South Africa has also contributed to ensuring the successful inauguration of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) in Ethiopia in March 2004 and has offered to host this AU organ.

The establishment of this key political organ of the African Union is a crucial and necessary step towards Africa taking control of its own political future.

The prioritization of the formation of this Parliament is because we recognize that sustained development, an improvement in the quality of our people's economic well-being, is inextricably linked to political stability, democratic governance, conflict prevention and resolution.

Significant work has been done in respect of the ECCOSOC, the African Court of Justice and the financial institutions of the AU. Furthermore, we are proud of our contribution in the campaign to ensure appropriate and adequate representation of the African women in all the AU structures.

All of these instruments are based on programmes and projects founded on solid principles of democracy, good political and economic governance, social justice, respect for human rights and a culture of tolerance, transparency and accountability as stipulated in the Constitutive Act of the AU.

In fulfilling the mandate of the AU, South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt and Senegal were instrumental in the conceptualisation of NEPAD. Through this development programme, the AU would enhance regional economic growth and development thereby addressing the twin problems of poverty and underdevelopment.

NEPAD introduces a voluntary instrument for monitoring compliance with the principles, priorities and objectives of the Constitutive Act and other decisions of the AU. This African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), provides a mechanism for peer learning and the sharing of information and best practice.

Mr Chairman

In this regard, I would like to commend SAIIA on the excellent work done on its NEPAD project, which has contributed not only in the development of national positions and initiatives, but also stimulated debate and understanding of this important undertaking within civil society and the private sector. This demonstrates, once again, the value of objective and balanced research when it comes to foreign policy analyses.

Pursuant to the objectives of the AU and NEPAD, South Africa firmly believes that Africa's future lies in the promotion of peace, security, stability, prosperity and development to benefit all its peoples. The promotion of these objectives informed South Africa's involvement in countries such as Angola, Comores, DRC, Lesotho, Rwanda, Burundi, Madagascar, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Ethiopia and Eritrea, to mention but a few.

In this year, we have commemorated the tragic genocide in Rwanda that occurred in 1994. South Africa fully supports the view of the Secretary-General of the UN, Mr Kofi Annan, that decisive action by the international community in response to future crises would be "the only fitting memorial" the UN and the world can offer to those who perished in Rwanda in 1994.

Mr Chairman

This Institute, and all of us, singly and collectively, have spoken and speak frequently about the phenomenon of globalisation. We speak of a global village, driven by recognition of the fact of the integration of all peoples within a common and interdependent global society. However, in this global village, we find ourselves living in different positions in virtually all fields of human activity: political, economic, social, intellectual etc. With South Africa's partners in the developing world, most notably the G-77 and NAM, we have continued to pursue vigorously the strengthening of South-South Cooperation.

One such initiative is the India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum (IBSA), established in 2003. This forum provides an important mechanism for the country to advance its interests with core strategic partners in the developing world. IBSA aspires to not only promote trilateral cooperation in areas of mutual interest, but also to be a positive factor in advancing human development by promoting potential synergies amongst its members. In addition, IBSA will strive to play a constructive role in international affairs to maintain friendly relations with all countries. The first IBSA Ministerial trilateral was held in India in March 2004, where it adopted a Plan of Action relating to, amongst others, transportation, tourism, trade and investment, defence and energy. South Africa is to host the 2nd Trilateral in the first quarter of 2005.

Mr Chairman

Bilateral relations between South Africa and the rest of the world have expanded rapidly over the past decade. The country now has sound bilateral relations with almost all the countries within the UN family. This is indicative of not only the importance we attach to global bilateral cooperation, but also of the importance that other countries attach to cooperation with a young, democratic South Africa.

Looking at our African Continent, the importance of fostering and maintaining sound bilateral relations is a priority within our foreign policy. South Africa can confidently claim that for the first time in its history, its representation of 34 Missions on the continent exceeds its representation in any other region of the world. This representation mirrors the priority afforded to Africa in our foreign policy.

South Africa's bilateral relations with countries in the Asia-Pacific, Central Asian and Latin American regions have expanded significantly over the past decade. These strong relationships have been used and should continue to be used to promote both South Africa's bilateral interests and its multilateral agenda. Another key foreign policy objective for the future will be to continue strengthening these relations.

Relations with the EU have improved significantly over the past five years. Interaction with the EU is taking place continuously on issues such as UN reforms, non-proliferation and disarmament, terrorism, international human rights, increased market access for the South and debt relief. The enlargement of the EU is also of great importance to us. Whilst we will continue to promote substantive relations with the EU on issues of mutual interest, a special effort is required to expand relations with the ten new members of the Union.

Regarding relations between South Africa and the US, it is clear that any engagement with the country has to recognise its enormous power (political, economic, military, technical, etc.) We begin from the premise that a principled relationship with the US is ultimately to our mutual benefit and is central to South Africa's growing position in the world.

Mr Chairman

In light of the aforesaid, South Africa's foreign policy medium-term priorities and objectives will focus on socio-economic development, global governance, security, consolidation of the African Agenda, South-South Cooperation and improved political and economic relations. Central to this the eradication of poverty will remain one of the most fundamental challenges of the new millennium. We are indeed faced with duties, new and old.

There is every reason why South Africa in the next decade to come should seek to begin to fulfil the thoughts and indeed prophecy of Pixley ka Seme and to contribute towards the regeneration of an African continent.

In this regard, I trust that SAIIA will continue to be our partner and to assist in this endeavour. The objective analysis, the stimulation of debates and the educational role that the Institute has adopted over the years, will be as important in the years to come, as it had been in the past. I once again congratulate you on this milestone and wish you all the best for the future.

Let us together, each in our own way, see that this country, this continent and this world move forward into a better future, where all are equal participants in the great striving of humanity for a better life for all its various peoples all over the world.

Thank you.

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