Statement by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad at the General Debate
during the 7th Meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Indian Ocean Rim Association
for Regional Co-operation (IOR-ARC), Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, 7 March
Distinguished Delegates and Dialogue Partners
On behalf of the South African delegation I wish to congratulate
our host, the Islamic Republic of Iran for the good organisation and the hospitality
given to us.
You have been able to do so despite the fact that we meet at
a time when the region is going through a very serious crisis, which threatens
regional stability and international peace and security. We remain strong in our
conviction that it is in humanity's interests to prevent any new military action
in this region. We should therefore intensify our efforts to find a peaceful negotiated
solution to the crisis around Iran's nuclear programme.
years ago Ghana became the first Sub-Saharan African country to lower the British
flag and hoist the new Ghanaian flag. This was the beginning of the setting of
the sun on the British Empire in Africa.
Yesterday as we celebrated this
happy occasion we were acutely conscious that while colonialism, new-colonialism
and apartheid were defeated we had inherited distorted economic structures with
a legacy of poverty and underdevelopment. Today, despite all our efforts the vast
majority of our peoples still live below the poverty data line. The positive impact
of globalisation has still not materialised in many of our countries.
is why we give such importance to the IOR-ARC initiative. We see it as an important
mechanism to achieve our developmental agenda. For us the success of the IOR-ARC
is a matter of life and death.
At the end of the twentieth century a new
generation of African leaders proclaimed that the twenty-first century must be
the African century and adopted an African programme for African development,
viz the new partnership for African development. We were conscious that while
we had our own responsibilities to succeed we had to mobilise support from the
international community especially from the countries of the South.
in this context that in 1995 President Mandela stated
urge of the facts of history and geography should broaden itself to include the
concept of an Indian Ocean Rim for socio-economic cooperation and other peaceful
Ten years ago in March 1997 we formally
launched our Association in Mauritius. Despite our economic, political, cultural
and social diversities we came together not only because of an ocean but because
we had a vision. Today, we need to constructively, critically and frankly assess
what we have concretely achieved in the last 10 years.
The IOR-ARC was
formed because we believed that it could be a mechanism for enhancing economic
interaction in the region and that the IOR-ARC would be a key to unlock the potential
of the India Ocean Rim, in particular enhancing trade and investment flows, trade
liberalisation as well as the sustainable exploitation of the vast tourism potential
of our Association's members.
Have we succeeded to achieve this vision?
A Secretariat non-paper calls on us to discuss clear and concrete proposals
to re-energise the organisation and prevent it from dying a natural death. We
do not have the luxury of allowing our Association to die naturally or unnaturally.
The non-paper identifies some problems
1. A Core Group of Heads of
Missions (Mauritius, Iran, Singapore, India and UAE) was tasked to conceptualise
the Format of Economic Summit. To date there has been no correspondence on the
constitution of the Core Group or on the proposals.
2. The paper also expresses
its disappointment on the activities of the WGHM. It states that it seems that
the WGHM has lost interest.
3. Regional meetings are not being held on schedule
and sometimes cancelled or postponed.
4. The IOR-ARC Secretariat is experiencing
difficulties to keep up with the dynamic global economic conditions.
The lack of Technical Staff at the Secretariat is severely affecting the performances
of the Secretariat and the Organisation at large.
The question is what is
to be done?
The Chairperson's report and the Senior Officials proposals
can serve as a foundation to build on.
I am sure that we all agree that
the IOR-ARC should be more than a platform for sharing ideas but must serve as
a vehicle towards producing tangible results that have a qualitative impact on
our developmental agenda. An important element of making this a reality is the
strengthening of the necessary institutional capacity. In this regard, South Africa
has seconded an official to Mauritius to augment the capacity of the Secretariat.
Other member states should also consider assisting the Secretariat logistically
and financially to seriously make an impact on strengthening the operations of
our Association. I say this conscious of the fact that structures, how ever strong,
will not be effective if we don't have a prioritised realistic programme of action.
time has come to ensure that the decisions taken at this 7TH Meeting will facilitate
and encourage in concrete terms a mutually beneficial socio-economic co-operation
and other peaceful endeavours between all member countries
should also creatively determine how the IOR-ARC can be an effective mechanism
to enhance our capacity to ensuring that concrete programmes of other institutions
such the New Asia Africa Strategic Partnership, ASEAN, the Chinese Africa partnership,
the Japanese TICAD, and the NEPAD initiative and can be meaningful utilised in
our common interests.
We are all concerned about the future of the IOR-ARC.
We need to elaborate further on our vision of our organisation to answer the question
- where do we want to take/lead the IOR-ARC in the next ten years. Part of this
work will entail that we resolve at our planning process with the view to at least
construct a 3 - 4 year plan that will establish a continuation from the present
Chair to those who will lead us in the next two to four years.
also believes that after ten years plus of continuous dialogue with partners and
observers we need to resolve here that we indeed welcome their active participation
in projects identified by the Association. This contribution may be financial,
technical or other means. Our resolution can then be translated into agreeable
modalities of co-operation. A further mechanism for contact could also be constructed
around the Executive Director based in Mauritius.
South Africa looks forward
to constructive discussions regarding the future direction of the IOR-ARC. The
objective conditions many of our countries face demands that our deliberations
must be based on concrete realities and it must be targeted and outcome orientated.
must express our appreciation to India, Oman and Iran for their contribution to
the Special Fund. The Special Fund should empower us to concretely implement priority
projects. We should look at how all of us can also contribute to the Special Fund,
and determine how best this Fund can be utilised to enable us to achieve our common
In conclusion may I once again reiterate our appreciation to
the Islamic Republic of Iran for hosting this event in these very challenging
times. . Thank you also for the hospitalities extended to us since our arrival
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152