Address by Deputy Minister Pahad on the Occasion of UN Day,
Diplomatic Guesthouse, Tshwane, 24 October 2005
The Executive Director of
the UNFPA ( UN Population Fund), Ms Thoraya Obaid,
Resident Coordinator of
the UN in SA, Ms Scholastica Sylvane Kimaryo,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
of UN agencies, funds and programmes in SA,
Government and private sector representatives,
of the media,
On behalf of the Government of SA, I would like to say "Happy
Anniversary" to the UN ! It is my pleasure to host this reception to mark
the occasion of UN Day.
We meet at a time when the importance of multilateralism,
and the many challenges humanity faces, has never been so pertinent.
is appropriate to recall the importance of the UN because we in SA, to a large
extent, owe our successful transition to democracy to the tireless and consistent
efforts of the UN and many of its Member States in support of our struggle for
On UN Day we celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the UN,
on 24 October 1945. A new global institution emerged from the aftermath of WW2,
in order, in other words of the Preamble to the Charter :
to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime
has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
- to reaffirm faith in fundamental
human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights
of men and women and of nations large and small, and
- to establish conditions
under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and
other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress
and better standards of life in larger freedom "
These are exactly
the enduring values and principles for which South Africa stands. They are enshrined
in our Constitution. We therefore join with many nations around the world in making
known the achievements of the UN and reaffirming our ongoing critical support
for the work of the UN system as a whole. In doing so, we are also very mindful
of the current global context, of the pressing need to enhance the authority and
efficiency of the UN, as well as its capacity to effectively address the pressing
challenges of the 21st Century.
On 23 September 2003, UN Secretary-General,
Kofi Annan, launched a process on the critical need for reform of the UN. The
SG put it poignantly, when he said :
. we have come to a fork
in the road. This may be a moment no less decisive than 1945 itself, when the
UN was founded. At that time, a group of far-sighted leaders, led and inspired
by Franklin D Roosevelt, were determined to make the second half of the 20th Century
different from the first half. They saw that the human race had only one world
to live in, and that unless it managed its affairs prudently, all human beings
may perish. So they drew up the rules to govern international behaviour, and founded
a network of institutions, with the UN at its centre, in which the peoples of
the world could work together for the common good. Now we must decide whether
it is possible to continue on the basis agreed then, or whether radical changes
are needed ".
As you may recall, the SG established 3 groups of Eminent
Persons to analyse the need for change in the light of the challenges being faced
by the UN system.
Drawing on these three Reports, in March 2005, the SG
presented his recommendations for a package of significant reforms in the UN,
"In Larger Freedom - towards development, security
and human rights for all".
A draft Outcome Document was presented
to the Millennium Summit, convened in order to conduct a comprehensive review
of the implementation of all the commitments made in the Millennium Declaration.
The urgency of the need for decisive action by the rich and developed countries
is starkly highlighted by the recently published UNDP Human Development Report
2005, which says :
"As governments prepare for the 2005 Summit,
the overall report card on progress makes for depressing reading. Most countries
are off track for most of the MDGs. Human development is faltering in some key
areas, and already deep inequalities are widening. Various diplomatic formulations
and polite terminology can be found to describe the divergence between progress
on development and the ambition set out in the Millennium Declaration. None of
them should be allowed to obscure a simple truth : the promise to the world's
poor is being broken."
"This year, 2005, marks a
crossroads. The world's governments face a choice. One option is to seize the
moment make 2005 the start of a 'decade for development'. If the investments and
policies needed to achieve the MDGs are put in place today, there is still time
to deliver on the promise of the Millennium Declaration. But time is running out."
Summit is the moment to mobilise the investment resources and develop the plans
needed to build the defences that can stop the tsunami of world poverty. What
is needed is the political will to act on the vision that governments set out
five years ago."
As the UNDP report underscores, reform of
the UN requires that Member States display far-sightedness, in much the same profound
spirit as the Organisation's founders did 60 years ago. Unfortunately, this capacity
stands in sharp contrast to the parochial myopia, the global short sightedness
that characterised the preoccupations of some Member States in the run-up to the
Millennium Review Summit.
President Mbeki in his address to the General
Assembly in New York on 15 September 2005, said:
"One of the
points that stands out sharply from the review is that in truth we have not made
the decisive progress we thought we would make with regard to the critical issue
of the reform of the UN. We have therefore had no choice but to postpone to a
later date the decisions we should have made."
He went on
to add that :
"Yet another fact that stands out sharply from
the review is that our approach to the challenge to commit and deploy the necessary
resources for the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals has been half-hearted,
timid and tepid."
The global situation has been dominated by
many negative developments.
The Outcome Document correctly says: "We
reaffirm our commitment to work towards a security consensus based on the recognition
that many threats are interlinked, that development, peace, security and human
rights are mutually reinforcing, that no State can best protect itself by acting
entirely alone and that all States need an effective and efficient collective
security system, pursuant to the purposes and principles of the Charter."
reason we have not made the progress we should have, during the last 5 years,
is precisely because we have not as yet achieved a ' security consensus'."
have not achieved that "security consensus" because of the widely disparate
conditions of existence and interests among Member States of the UN as well as
the gross imbalance of power that define the relationship among these Member States.
Since the founding of the UN in 1945, we have come to realise that it is
an essential instrument through which multilateral processes can be brought to
contribute meaningfully to the solutions to humanitarian problems and challenges.
countries have set themselves the objective of guarding against weaknesses in
the current global approach to multilateralism. The absence of a balance of power
in the current global system is leading to an increased move to unilateralism,
which we cannot countenance. Indeed, South Africa believes that the UN and its
specialised Agencies should be at the centre of international co-operation aimed
at tackling global problems. It is the UN system that must provide the framework
in which multilateral co-operation can take place.
Today, we live in an
age of unprecedented opportunities and challenges because of globalisation. Our
time is one of extraordinary problems and challenges, both natural and man-made.
The need to improve global governance is therefore paramount. Extreme poverty,
the need to protect the environment, to deal effectively with terrorism, proliferation
of weapons of mass destruction, global warming, the protection of basic human
rights, and the resolution of conflicts through effective peacekeeping - are all
urgent challenges. In addition, pandemics such as HIV/AIDS are threatening whole
The situation in the Middle East, Iraq, Darfur are also part
of these global challenges that call for immediate and coherent international
action. They call for a strengthened and more effective UN, with practical action
and achievable outcomes. The peace and security, the health and economic opportunity,
the liberty and dignity of billions of people in the world who are marginalised,
depend on it.
One positive aspect of the 59th General Assembly was that
it "reaffirmed our commitment to strengthen the UN with a view to enhancing
its authority and efficiency, as well as its capacity to address effectively the
full range of challenges of our time".
With regard to the contentious
issue of the reform of the Security Council it said:
early reform of the Security Council as an essential element of our overall effort
to reform the UN, in order to make it more broadly representative, efficient and
transparent, and thus further to enhance its effectiveness and the legitimacy
and implementation of its decisions. We commit ourselves to continue our efforts
to achieve a decision to this end and request the General Assembly to review progress
on the reform set out above by the end of the year".
some of the powerful countries use their power to perpetuate the power imbalance
in the ordering of global affairs. As a consequence of this, we have not made
the progress of the reform of the UN that we should have.
outstanding issues, inter alia: the Human Rights Council; the Peacebuilding Commission;
the right to intervene the definitions of terrorism and the restructuring of the
Secretariat has started.
South Africa will continue to strive to ensure
that the UN lives up to its name and has a future as a strong and effective multilateral
organisation, enjoying the confidence of the peoples of the world, and capable
of addressing the matters that are of concern to all humanity.
achieve these objectives will make our world a very dangerous one.
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152