Notes following IRPS Cluster Media Briefing, Media Centre, Amphitheatre, Union Buildings, Thursday 5 July 2007

PRESIDENT MBEKI'S VISIT TO CÔTE D'IVOIRE POSTPONED

The South African government condemns the assassination attempt on Prime Minister Soros. As a consequence, the Côte d'Ivorian Flame of Peace Ceremony scheduled for Bouake yesterday Wednesday 4 July 2007 has been postponed by the government of Côte d'Ivoire. This Ceremony would have marked the launch of the disarmament process throughout Côte d'Ivoire.

Accordingly President Mbeki's visit to Côte d'Ivoire has now been postponed to a later date in July this year. The date of the Ceremony will be announced by the Côte d'Ivorian authorities.

DEPUTY PRESIDENT MLAMBO-NGCUKA TO PAY OFFICIAL VISIT TO KENYA

South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka will on Friday 6 July 2007 depart for Nairobi, Kenya where she is scheduled to present an address on the impact of HIV and AIDS on African Women at a YWCA hosted conference scheduled for later in the day.

Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka will participate in this Conference within the context of her chairpersonship of the South African National Aids Council which promotes the vision of an HIV and AIDS free Africa.

While in Kenya, on Saturday 7 July 2007, Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka will participate in the official launch of the SABC's East Africa Bureau.

Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka is expected to return to South Africa on Saturday 7 July 2007.

MINISTER DLAMINI ZUMA TO LAUNCH SA-BELARUS JOINT COMMISSION

South African Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, on conclusion of the African Union Summit in Ghana, on Wednesday 4 July 2007 departed from Accra for Minsk, Belarus for bilateral discussions and the launch of the South Africa - Belarus Joint Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Co-operation (ITEC) scheduled for Thursday - Saturday 5-7 July 2007. Minister Dlamini Zuma will be hosted by her Belarusian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergei Nikolayevich Martynov.

Minister Dlamini Zuma, accompanied by Minister Buyelwa Sonjica and Deputy Minister Rob Davies, will visit Belarus within the context of South Africa's commitment to consolidate bilateral political, economic and trade relations with Belarus.

Bilateral discussions between Ministers Dlamini Zuma and Sergei Martynov are expected to include, among others:

  • The status of bilateral political, economic and trade relations between both countries including areas of future engagement and co-operation;
  • Belarusian support for the promotion of the African agenda;
  • Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament;
  • The conflict in the Middle East; and
  • Co-operation between the two countries in multilateral fora including the United Nations and the comprehensive reform of the United Nations.

The South Africa - Belarus ITEC was signed into law in August 2006 and will be launched in Minsk on Thursday 5 July 2007.

The ITEC consists of the following sub-committees: Minerals and Energy, Science and Technology and Trade, Investment and Banking. These committees will investigate further areas of co-operation between both countries.

During her visit, Minister Dlamini Zuma will on Friday 6 July 2007 receive the award of Honorary Professor of the Belarusian State University.

While in Belarus, Minister Dlamini Zuma is also expected to pay a courtesy call on President Aleksander Lukashenko, meet with the Chairperson of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly, and the Deputy Chairperson of the "Belarusian Women's Union".

Minister Dlamini Zuma is expected to return to South Africa on Sunday 8 July 2007.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Since 2001, our bilateral trade with Belarus has been increasing but it is our view that the potential for economic development and interaction with South Africa remains significant, and has, and still could present South African businesses with excellent opportunities.

Current bilateral trade as per Belarusian 2006 statistics is US$ 15 million. South African imports of potassium fertilisers (main import), refrigerators, flax fabrics and spare truck and tractors parts amount to US$ 6 Million. Belarus also exports fully assembled low cost agricultural tractors and large dump trucks for the mining industry. South African exports of diamonds, veneer sheets, organic chemicals, vehicle spare parts and capital goods amounted to US$ 4 Million.

We hope Minister Dlamini Zuma's visit will give impetus to our trade relations with Belarus and indeed, other countries in the region.

Trade between South Africa and Belarus (all figures in ZAR)

All figures R' 000

 200120022003200420052006
SA Exports 1 191 1 8411 590 2 4102 4012 806
SA Imports2 2926 260 2 68120 2469 04212 315
Total Trade 3483 81014271 226561144315 121


DEPUTY MINISTER AZIZ PAHAD TO DEPART ON 4-NATION VISIT

Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad, and Deputy Finance Minister Jabu Moleketi will on Friday 6 July 2007 depart on a three-nation South American visit to Cuba, Panama, and Mexico. The delegation will also visit Spain before returning to South Africa on Thursday 19 July 2007.

The South African delegation will visit South America and Spain within the context of South Africa's priority consolidate bilateral political, economic and trade relations with Cuba, Panama, Mexico and Spain.

Cuba

Deputy Ministers Pahad and Moleketi will visit Havana, Cuba from Saturday - Wednesday 7-11 July 2007 during which Deputy Minister Pahad will together with his Cuban counterpart Deputy Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez co-chair the 5th session of the Joint Consultative Mechanism between South Africa and Cuba Tuesday - Wednesday 10-11 July 2007.

Issues on the agenda of this session of the Joint Consultative Mechanism are expected to include, among others:

  • The status of bilateral political and economic relations between South Africa and Cuba;
  • Updates on the current situation in Cuba and South Africa;
  • Perspectives on regional developments in Latin America and the Caribbean, SADC and Africa;
  • Areas of trilateral co-operation between South Africa and Cuba;
  • Peace and security challenges in Africa;
  • Developments within the Non-Aligned Movement;
  • The comprehensive reform of the United Nations and South Africa's tenure of the non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council; and
  • Progress towards the 2008 African Union Diaspora Conference to be hosted by South Africa.

While in Cuba, Deputy Minister Pahad will also brief resident Africa and Middle Eastern Ambassadors on "Developments in Africa and the Middle East."

Deputy Ministers Pahad and Moleketi will depart from Cuba on Wednesday 11 July 2007 for Panama.

Panama

Deputy Ministers Pahad and Moleketi will visit Panama from Wednesday - Thursday 11-12 July 2007 during which Deputy Minister Pahad will hold bilateral political and economic discussions with the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ricardo Duran on Thursday 12 July 2007.

Deputy Minister Moleketi is expected to hold discussions with the Vice Minister of Finance Orcila Vega de Constable.

Issues on the agenda of discussions between Deputy Minister Pahad and Vice Minister Duran are expected to include, among others:

  • The status of bilateral political and economic relations between both countries;
  • A briefing on developments in the Latin American and SADC regions;
  • Increased South-South co-operation; and
  • Co-operation between both countries in multilateral fora including the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 + China.

Deputy Ministers Pahad and Moleketi will depart from Panama and Thursday 12 July 2007 for Mexico.

Mexico

Deputy Ministers Pahad and Moleketi will visit Mexico from Thursday - Saturday 12-14 July 2007 during which Deputy Minister Pahad will on Friday 13 July 2007 hold bilateral political and economic discussions with his counterpart Mexican Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Maria de Lourdes Aranda Bezaury.

Issues on the agenda of discussions between Deputy Minister Pahad and Undersecretary Bezaury are expected to include, among others:

  • The status of bilateral political and economic relations between both countries;
  • Regional affairs in Latin America and the Caribbean and SADC and the African Union;
  • Multilateral co-operation in the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 + China.

Deputy Ministers Pahad and Moleketi are expected to depart from Mexico on Saturday 14 July 2007 ahead of their visit to Spain.

Spain

Deputy Ministers Pahad and Moleketi will visit Madrid, Spain from Saturday - Wednesday 14-18 July 2007 during which Deputy Minister Pahad will together with his counterpart Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Bernadino Leon Gross, co-chair the 4th session of the South Africa - Spain Annual Political Consultations on Tuesday 17 July 2007.

Issues on the agenda of discussions are expected to include, among others:

  • An overview of the current status of and prospects for increased bilateral political and economic relations;
  • The African agenda including

    • An evaluation of the Spanish Africa Plan;
    • Post conflict reconstruction and development with regard to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur, Côte d'Ivoire, Western Sahara, Equatorial Guinea and Somalia;
    • The outcomes of the recently concluded African Union Summit;
    • African Union - European Union relations with particular reference to the forthcoming African Union - European Union Summit in Lisbon at the end of 2007;
    • Migration

  • The conflict in the Middle East including Israel and Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq;
  • Nuclear non-proliferation;
  • An assessment of developments in the Latin American region; and
  • The comprehensive reform of the United Nations and South Africa's tenure of the non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Deputy Ministers Pahad and Moleketi are expected to return to South Africa on Thursday 19 July 2007,

TERRORIST ATTACKS IN GLASGOW

Statement by the South African government on the attack at Glasgow Airport

The South African government condemns the terrorist attack which took place at Glasgow airport in Great Britain as well as the attempt to explode car bombs in London on Friday 29 June 2007.

We again reiterate our view that no cause can justify such acts of terrorism and indeed, such actions only serve against the causes perpetrators are hoping to gain support for.

The latest acts of terrorism reinforce the view of the South African government that we need a holistic approach to dealing with terrorism.

The international community must more vigorously implement the global strategy against terrorism adopted last year by the General Assembly.

RELEASE OF BBC REPORT ALAN JOHNSTON

The South African government welcomes the release of BBC Reporter Alan Johnston on Wednesday 4 July 2007 in Gaza.

However, the South African government reiterates calls for the release of the Israeli soldier Shalit who was captured by some Palestinian groups in July 2006 and all other Palestinian and Syrian detainees.

We believe this will create a better environment for movement forward in what is a very difficult situation in the Middle East.

AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT

You are aware that the long awaited Grand Debate on the African government in Ghana has now been concluded.

We are generally happy with the outcome of this Summit.

It has clearly been reiterated that the ultimate objective of the African Union is the United States of Africa with a Union Government. However, we need to do more as a process to achieve this objective.

Outcomes of Accra Summit

Accra Declaration

The Assembly of the Union, meeting at its 9th Ordinary Session in Accra, Ghana from 1-3 July 2007,

Recalling our decision Assembly/AU/Dec 156 (VIII) adopted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2007 on the need for a "Grand Debate on the Union Government" with a view to providing a clear vision of the future of the African Union and of African Unity:

Convinced that the ultimate objective of the African Union is the United States of Africa with a Union Government as envisaged by the founding fathers of the Organisation of African Union and, in particular, the visionary leader Dr Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana;

Also convinced of the need for common responses to the major challenges of globalisation facing Africa and boosting regional integration processes through an effective continental mechanism;

Recognising that opening up narrow domestic markets to greater trade and investment through freer movement of persons, goods, services and capital would accelerate growth thus, reducing excessive weaknesses of many of our Member States;

Further recognising that the Union Government should be built on common values that need to be identified and agreed upon as benchmarks;

Acknowledging the importance of involving the African peoples in order to ensure that the African Union is a Union of peoples and not just a "Union of States and governments", as well as the African Diaspora in the processes of economic and political integration of our continent;

Hereby declare as follows:

1. There is a need to accelerate the economic and political integration of the African continent, including the formation of a Union Government for Africa.
2. The ultimate objective of the African Union is to create the United States of Africa.
3. We reiterate our earlier decision on the rationalisation and strengthening of the Regional Economic Communities and the harmonisation of their activities so as to lead to the creation of an African Common Market, through the stages set in the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (Abuja Treaty), with a reviewed and shorter timeframe to be agreed upon in order to accelerate the economic integration.
4. We agree on the roadmap to attaining the Union Government as follows:

  • To conduct immediately, an Audit of the Executive Council in terms of Article 10 of the Constitutive Act, the Commission as well as the other organs of the African Union in accordance with the Terms of Reference adopted by the 10th Extraordinary Session of our Executive Council held in Zimbali, South Africa on 10 May 2007.
  • To commission detailed studies on the following:

    • Identification of the contents of the Union Government concept and its relations with national governments;
    • Identification of domains of competence and the impact of its establishment on the sovereignty of member states;
    • Definition of the relationship between the Union Government and the Regional Economic Communities;
    • Elaboration of a roadmap and timeframe for establishing the Union Government; and
    • Identification of additional sources of financing the activities of the Union.

5. The outcome of the studies will be submitted to a Committee of Heads of State and Government which will make appropriate recommendations to the next ordinary session of our Assembly.
6. We agree on the importance of involving the African peoples, including Africans in the Diaspora, in the processes leading to the formation of the Union Government.

Done in Accra this 3rd Day of July 2007

(Comment by Deputy Minister Pahad: There seems to be general agreement that the objective of the African Union government has been agreed to by all. However, much work needs to be done before this can be achieved.

There are some countries who did argue that the establishment of five ministries - Foreign Affairs, Defence, Health, Trade and Infrastructure Development - would help us to move faster towards this objective of a Union Government. This notion was however rejected by the Summit.)

What is significant is that the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, speaking on behalf of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the Summit, underlined some of Africa's concerns when she said, "However, Africa is still lagging behind the rest of the world in achieving our common development objectives.

The challenges remain daunting:

  • Overall, the number of people living in extreme poverty in Africa is rising, although the increase has levelled off slightly since 1999;
  • Child mortality rates have fallen, but only marginally to 166 per 1,000 live births. This is nowhere near the objective of a two thirds reduction by 2015;
  • Maternal mortality rates remain shockingly high. A woman in Africa has a 1 in 16 chance to die in childbirth or from complications in pregnancy, compared with a likelihood of 1 in 3,800 in the developed world.

These stark figures should stir us all to scale up our efforts to achieve the Goals. This year marks the midpoint between the adoption of the Goals and the target date of 2015 by which we have committed ourselves to achieve them. That makes it especially important for there to be more resolute efforts, and deeper partnerships, to reduce poverty, to address the needs in health, education and other sectors and to promote gender equality.

On the development front more broadly, the Secretary-General and I will make specific efforts to ensure that implementation of the MDGs is intensified. Against this background, the Secretary-General, during last month's G-8 summit in Germany, launched the MDG Africa Steering Group, which brings together the leaders of United Nations entities, international financial institutions and the African Union Commission. The Steering Group will work closely with donors and developing countries to provide a vital new impetus for a continent-wide scaling up of interventions.

The African Union Mission in the Sudan has had a significant impact on the ground, but it lacks the capacity to meet the extraordinary challenges of protecting civilians and bringing stability to Darfur. The Secretary-General appreciates the collaboration between the United Nations, the African Union and the Government of Sudan. We are pleased that the Government of Sudan has finally accepted the African Union-United Nations hybrid operation. We must urgently proceed with this undertaking. The deployment of the hybrid operation will be unprecedented, and will constitute a new chapter in our joint efforts to address the continent's peace and security challenges.

But we must also seek to resolve the root causes of the conflict in Darfur. The African Union and the United Nations are working closely together to reinvigorate the political process and bring a negotiated solution to the Darfur crisis.

At the same time, we must not allow our efforts in Darfur to diminish our resolve to take forward the crucial Comprehensive Peace Agreement for Sudan as a whole.

The adoption in the year 2005 of the United Nations Ten-Year Capacity Building Programme for the African Union was followed last year by the Declaration on "Enhancing UN-AU Cooperation". The Programme and Declaration reflect our joint commitment to find more effective ways to advance peace and security in Africa.

The United Nations is working with the African Union to develop a standby force capable of rapid deployment. The ultimate objective is to develop a new peace and security architecture that can contribute to preventing conflict and maintaining durable peace on the continent.

It is heartening that the Peace and Security Council of the African Union and the United Nations Security Council, meeting together in Addis Ababa just a few days ago, committed themselves to the development of a stronger and more structured relationship in the areas of conflict prevention, conflict management and resolution, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

To more effectively address these challenges and the other pressing issues facing Africa, the United Nations system is committed to working together in ever closer partnership with you. Together, let us redouble our efforts to advance development, to improve peace and security and to strengthen respect for human rights on the African continent.

We have built a highly fruitful collaboration in a wide range of areas, from peacekeeping to the fight against AIDS. Let us strengthen and replicate these bonds as we strive to achieve our common objectives."

Another significant development at the Summit has been the launch of African Infrastructure Fund on Sunday 1 July 2007 at an African Union summit in Ghana.

This fund was launched based on a decision that Africa should mobilise its own resources for African development.

African public and private investors plan to finance highways, hydro-power dams and other infrastructure through a continent-wide fund that puts hard cash behind the goal of a more united Africa.

"This is a fund by Africans for the benefit of Africans," South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said.

Ghanaian Foreign Minister Nana Akufo Addo, said the home-grown initiative was a break from the tradition of African states "holding their hands out for alms" from the world.

The fund's chief executive, Tshepo Mahloele, said mostly South African public and private investors, including banks and pension funds, had already committed $625m to the first long-term equity fund of its kind in Africa. "The goal of the fund is to raise $1.2bn," he added.

It is our view that this initiative would provide long-term financing for cross-border energy, transport, telecoms, water and sanitation projects. Other investment instruments - quasi-equity, structured finance and high-yielding debt - would be considered.

The fund, whose start-up investors include the South African government-owned Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and Ghana's Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), was now looking for more investors and financing partners inside and outside the continent.

"We've got a lot of international interest. We've got the Singaporean pension funds looking, we've scheduled engagements with American institutions, and also some of the regular development finance institutions," Mahloele said.

"We have set ourselves the next 12 months to get to the $1.2bn," Mahloele added, saying the funds had made a point of obtaining its initial commitments from African institutions.

"It is unlikely that we will get anyone to invest on the continent unless Africans start investing themselves," he said.

Mahloele said the fund, which was based in South Africa but would open offices in the main geographical regions of the continent, had more than 19 possible infrastructure deals in the pipeline.

Some of the projects under consideration included an airport in West Africa, a toll road in Nigeria, a gas scheme in Namibia, a satellite covering the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa and investment in the massive Inga hydro-electric dam in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"Of our five top projects, what we call our A list, we're sure that we should be able to close two within the next 12 to 18 months," Mahloele said.

Countries such as Namibia, Kenya, Nigeria, Botswana and Tanzania, were looking at amending their legislation and regulations to allow national pension funds to invest abroad so they could join the initiative.

Mahloele said the time was ripe for the launch of such an investment vehicle, allowing African pension funds to invest resources on their own continent and contribute to easing the region's huge infrastructure deficit, which was hampering development.

(Comment by Deputy Minister Pahad: This is a very important development because for the first time we have an African Fund that will support African development. We will use our own resources and partner with other agencies to achieve our objectives.)

MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS

2007 Report on Progress towards Achieving MDGs

The 2007 report on progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) is pessimistic on Africa's chances of achieving the targets overall, but notes that the number of extreme poor has increased only marginally - from 296 million in 1999 to 298 million in 2004, despite a population growth rate of 2.3%.

In addition, the proportion of people living on US$1 a day or less has fallen from 45.9% to 41.1% since 1999; however, achieving the MDG target of halving the extent of extreme poverty on the continent by 2015 means the pace of reduction has to be doubled.

Significantly, once again, the report indicated that it is important that developed countries meet their official aid commitments otherwise, even the modest the gains made thus far would be eroded. "We do not want new promises … the donor countries must meet, in their entirety, the commitments already made." Only five donor countries have reached or exceeded the long-standing UN target of donating 0.7%of gross national income being to development aid - Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

As I have previously indicated, and what is now reflected in this report, is that the reality is that total official development assistance fell in real terms by 5.1% between 2005 and 2006, the first decline since 1997, despite pledges by the G8 industrialised nations at the Gleneagles summit in 2005 to double aid to Africa by 2010. It is therefore clear that we will not meet this target.

Worldwide, the proportion of people living on $1 a day has dropped from 32% (1.25 billion in 1990) to 19% (980 million in 2004). According to the report, if that trend continues, the "MDG poverty reduction target will be met for the world as a whole and for most regions".

Other signs of progress globally are an increase in primary school enrolment - from 80% in 1991 to 88% in 2005; a greater number of women in politics and government; a decline in child mortality, mainly through interventions against measles, for example; a boost in anti-malaria measures; and progress against tuberculosis, albeit insufficient to achieve the target of halving prevalence and death rates by 2015.

Asia has made dramatic progress in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, halving the proportion of people living on $1 a day, according to the report, and is thus comfortably on track to achieving the first MDG. However, this gain comes with increased income inequality within countries and across regions.

In southern Asia, almost 30 percent of people still live on $1 day while in eastern Asia the share of income of the poorest fifth of the population had fallen from 7.3% in 1990 to 4.5 percent in 2004. Improvements in child nutrition rates and gender equality in southern and south-eastern Asia were also poor: southern Asia shared with sub-Saharan Africa the highest number of maternal deaths and the lowest proportion of skilled health attendants at birth.

Furthermore, gains made towards some MDGs in Asia would be limited by challenges in other areas, such as deforestation, unplanned urbanisation, and the fast rate of growth of HIV/AIDS in some regions, stated the report.

On the positive side, northern Africa is on track to achieving most of the eight MDGs, with poverty rates down from 2.6% to 1.4% between 1990 and 2004; income inequality the lowest among all developing regions; significant gains in universal primary education, with enrolment ratios at 95 percent in 2005; and child mortality down from 88 deaths per 1,000 births in 1990 to 35 in 2005. Only gender equality and empowerment of women let the region down, the report found.

ECOSOC and the Millennium Development Goals

There have been some important developments within ECOSOC and presents us with another instrument through which to address developmental challenges.

The South African government welcomes ECOSOC's bold new initiatives to re-energize its functions and to rejuvenate its mission. It is now better prepared for being the mechanism to devise and oversee development policies and practices.

The creation of the Annual Ministerial Reviews and the Development Cooperation Forum are important initiatives. The Ministerial Reviews will enable the Council to better assess national progress towards the internationally agreed development goals. The new Development Cooperation Forum can help countries to better gear international development cooperation towards achieving these goals.

The United Nations Secretary-General's analytical report for the Ministerial Review, as well as The Millennium Development Goals Report 2007, "shows that progress towards the Development Goals has been slow in some of the world's poorest countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. However, its main message remains encouraging: the Millennium Development Goals remain achievable in most countries, but only if political leaders take urgent and concerted action.

Countries in Africa and elsewhere are demonstrating that rapid and large-scale progress on the MDGs is possible. As this weeks national presentations on implementation experiences will show, it flows from strong Government leadership and sound governance good policies. It requires practical strategies for scaling up investments in key areas. And it needs adequate financial and technical support from the international community.

Experience has also shown that successful national development strategies must be aligned with the MDGs through internal effort -- not imposed from outside. Such strategies should be coupled with a broad-based and balanced macroeconomic policy that fosters growth and employment creation. Decent jobs, especially for women and youth, provide the strongest link between economic growth and poverty reduction. Their generation must become a higher national policy priority, along with related efforts to enhance productive capacity and improve access to markets.

All of this will simply not occur without adequate financing, much of which has to flow from a strengthened global partnership for development.

I cannot stress strongly enough the need for developed nations to keep their promises. They have to meet the 0.7 per cent official development assistance target. Today, I urge donors to issue timelines for scaling up aid to reach their target commitments by 2010 and 2015."

As they do so, they must also address the disparities in the global trade regime, which handcuff so many developing nations. The world desperately needs a successful conclusion to the Doha trade negotiations. Existing trade barriers, agricultural subsidies and restrictive rules on intellectual property rights reinforce global inequities -- and they make a mockery of our tall claims to eliminate hunger and poverty from our world.

The time to convert existing promises into actual progress is now. We must convert the "global partnership for development" into more than a catchy slogan, and turn it into fact, so as to address the most pressing development issues of our day, from climate change to trade and aid. By acting now, we can still deliver by the 2015 deadline.

That is the task facing this Council, as well as the entire international system. I am confident that today's ECOSOC can and will come through, and provide the leadership and guidance that we all seek.

For my part, I will spare no effort to ensure that the entire United Nations system functions in a coherent, effective and efficient way for our Member States, and for all the ordinary people whose hopes and aspirations rest with us.


UN SUPPORT FOR PEACEKEEPING

The South African government Welcomes General Assembly's Approval Of Peacekeeping Operations' Restructuring To Promote Effectiveness And Oversight

Peacekeeping is one of the key issues being discussed in the United Nations Security Council and one in which South Africa is keenly involved. We believe the new proposals that are emerging will enable us to more effectively use UN institutions to deal with peacekeeping and peacebuilding initiatives.

The proposals approved by the General Assembly include a restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations; the establishment of a separate Department of Field Support, headed by an Under-Secretary-General; a major augmentation of working-level resources in both departments and in other parts of the Secretariat; and new capacities as well as integrated structures to match the growing complexity of mandated activities.

The approved reform package has been carefully crafted to ensure that the two Departments, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support, will work in harmony, so as to provide unity of command, coherence in policy and strategy and operational efficiency, while promoting the overall effectiveness and oversight of peacekeeping operations.

Through this resolution, Member States have reaffirmed the importance they attach to United Nations peacekeeping, and demonstrated their willingness to substantially invest in bolstering the Secretariat's capacity in this key endeavour.

The Peacebuilding Commission which was created which was created as one of the reforms to United Nations operations proposed by the September 2005 World Summit in New York to support societies recovering from the devastation of war -- had shown in its first year that the consolidation of peace must be based on both national ownership and international partnership. The efforts to consolidate peace and development must be based on the needs and perspectives of the countries themselves.

The Commission has co-operated with Governments and institutions as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Community and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, to agree on modalities to ensure the tapping of the resources and skills of civil society. Members of the Commission had focused their first efforts on the challenges facing Burundi and Sierra Leone, and the entire United Nations system would support the integrated strategic peacebuilding processes for both countries, for which funding envelopes of $35 million had already been announced.

The Security Council increasingly integrates the work of the Commission into its own work.

The Commission recognizes the link between poverty, weak State capacity and conflict. It had ensured that its priorities included job creation, especially for youth, capacity development and delivery of basic social services. By making substantial progress in those areas the Commission could ensure the sustainability of national peacebuilding efforts.

Mr Kenzo Oshima (Japan) is the new Chairman. Carmen Maria Gallardo Hernandez (El Salvador) and Leslie Kojo Christian (Ghana) are Vice-Chairpersons for the session that will end in June 2008.

South Africa believes that it will be important, in the second year, to deliver tangible results, with the country-specific approach remaining at the core, he said. Working methods should be streamlined as more countries were taken into consideration and standard operating procedures developed where possible. The Commission could also act as a focal point for best practices in peacebuilding, and should take on cross-cutting issues such as rule of law and security sector reform.

Affect of Armed Conflict on Civilians

South Africa is deeply concerned about the effect of armed conflict on civilians, especially women and children. International humanitarian law demands the protection of civilians.

The Security Council Open Debate on Civilians in Armed Conflict took place on Friday 22 June 2007.

General Assembly Resolution 46/182, amongst others, highlights the important value that humanitarian assistance should be provided in accordance with the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality and consequently that assistance should not be given due to geopolitical considerations.

The debate highlighted the three main areas of concern: the targeting of civilians and indiscriminate firing, forced displacement and lack of access and security for humanitarian workers.

Other issues raised were that of gender-based violence and the necessity fo end the culture of impunity and the need to strengthen the protection of civilians. Rule of law and judicial redress are key and greater participation by women in all aspects of protection, including peacekeeping, would substantially improve attitudes regarding sexual violence.

For the first time since 2002, the number of refugees worldwide has increased surging to 9.9 million at the end of 2006 primarily because of refugee flows from Iraq.

Issues that need action include: security for displaced persons and host communities, ensuring access to those in need and a secure environment for relief workers, strengthening the rule of law, protection of women and girls, preventing recruitment of child soldiers, mine action, and action on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.

The South African government welcomes the increasingly widespread acceptance of these principles, together with the existence of institutions and staff specifically charged with monitoring and, where possible, ensuring their observance was a huge step forward. This was in line with the General Assembly's agreement at the 2005 World Summit.

South Africa welcomes the call on the international community to invest more in conflict prevention, facilitating political solution through increased mediation capacity and support to help resolve conflict and immediate post-conflict measures to prevent rapid relapse into conflict.

We should avoid the politicisation of humanitarian assistance and in this context, we urge the international community to not ignore the occupied Palestinian Territory in Gaza. The Head of the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian Territory said that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip could worsen unless Israel ceases with restrictions and closures at its border crossings with the area. South Africa supports the call by OCHA for the reopening of Karni crossing, the main commercial crossing point into Gaza.

South Africa supports the work of the International Criminal Court and the various international tribunals and believes that all perpetrators, regardless of nationality and geopolitical status, should be properly and fairly tried. It is therefore hoped that addressing the challenges of protecting civilians in armed conflict be done in a way that would increase respect for the principles of international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law, human dignity and the legitimacy of the United Nations.

South Africa also raised the importance of co-operation and co-ordination between the Security Council and regional organisations especially the African Union to better protect and offer humanitarian assistance and the need to include the protection of civilians in armed conflict in the mandates of peacekeeping operations as is already the case with regard to the protection of women and children in armed conflict.

AFRICA - EUROPEAN UNION CO-OPERATION

European Union - Africa Summit

We are happy to report that Africa - European Union discussions towards the next AU-EU Summit are progressing well.

This is indicated by the comments of the Portuguese Prime Minister, who ahead of Portugal's accession to EU Chair said, "Portugal proposes to convene the second EU-Africa summit in December. Europe has not had a structured institutional dialogue with Africa for seven years - an incomprehensible failing in European foreign policy. If there is one country that must take a stand against this and do everything to overcome the situation, it is Portugal. We were already central to the first, and last, Summit in Cairo in 2000 and we want yet again to be the foundation for a new strategic partnership between Europe and Africa, aimed at sustainable development, peace, combating endemic diseases and a balanced and mutually advantageous management of migratory flows."

You can also add to this the perceived challenge China proposes and an issue that is high on the agenda of many European and American countries.

The Summits have previously not taken place because of the European insistence to determine Africa's delegation, viz. the invitation to Zimbabwe. We hope that this statement by the Prime Minister indicates that Europe is committed to holding the Summit without determining who from Africa should attend.

Another positive sign has been that the European Commission has announced a new EU-Africa Strategy that outlines a long-term partnership that will focus on trade, aid and position the 27-member EU bloc to access energy and oil resources from Africa, has been unveiled.

"Sustained economic growth and political reform mean that Africa is increasingly emerging as a key political player in its own right. The EU and Africa are looking to strengthen their political partnership to embrace these recent changes.

"To fully adapt to the new reality, the EU intends to take its future relations with Africa beyond the traditional donor-recipient relationship. It is hoped that a new strategy will be adopted in December at a joint summit in Lisbon.

To this end, the EU commission has published its vision for the future of EU-Africa relations:

  • Beyond development - working together on political matters of common concern and interest
  • Beyond Africa - looking beyond Africa towards the rest of the world
  • Beyond fragmentation - the African Union will be considered the central political player
  • Beyond institutions - dialogue and partnership will be taken beyond Brussels and Addis Ababa

The Lisbon summit will focus on a number of significant initiatives, including sustainable and efficient management of energy resources; limiting climate change (expected to hit developing countries the hardest); migration policy; plans for a governance forum, and structured political dialogue between EU-Africa leaders.

In preparation for the summit, commission President Barroso and Development Commissioner Louis Michel attended the African Union Summit in Ghana on 1-3 July.

UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL VISIT TO AFRICA

Members of Mission to Africa Report on Visits to Sudan, Ethiopia, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo

With the Government of the Sudan having agreed unconditionally to support the deployment of a hybrid United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in the conflict-ridden Darfur region, it was necessary to build on the successes achieved in Khartoum, the co-leaders of a recent Security Council mission to Africa said as they briefed the wider Council membership on the week-long trip.

"So far so good," Emyr Jones Parry (United Kingdom) said of Khartoum's decision to allow the deployment after months of on-again-off-again negotiations and mounting international pressure. While the improved tone of the recent talks was a good sign, "we got where we are today by sustained pressure for what we need to do in Darfur", the western region of the Sudan where the efforts of some 7,000 African Union peacekeepers had been hampered by a lack of equipment and funding.

To pave the way for the proposed 20,000-strong hybrid force, Member States and the Council must work constructively with Khartoum to ensure the deployment, he stressed, noting at the same time that the Sudanese Government had rightly chastised the international community for not exerting enough pressure on the rebels, who bore an equally large burden for implementation of the plan.

Ambassadors Jones Parry and Dumisani Kumalo (South Africa), co-leaders of the Sudan leg of the mission, confirmed that high-level officials in Khartoum, including President Omer Hassan al-Bashir, had implicitly confirmed "total and unconditional" acceptance of the hybrid force. The trip had begun on 16 June with "positive" meetings with officials at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, and had included stops in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire before wrapping up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 21 June.

South Africa welcomes the major breakthrough and believes that the outstanding issues are logistical. To that end, the Council had informally discussed -- and must soon address directly -- a timeline for "who's going to do what and when", while assessing duties and tasks for the African Union, the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Council itself.

Senior officials from the United Nations and the African Union (AU) have met with the non-signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) to discuss next steps in the political process aimed at ending hostilities in the strife-torn region of Sudan, the UN Mission in Sudan said on Tuesday 3 July 2007.

Over the past week, the UN-AU Joint Mediation Support Team, led by the UN's Pekka Haavisto and the AU's Sam Ibok, has held talks with groups based in North Darfur and in Asmara, according to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS).

The team met with Eritrean officials in Asmara to discuss the next steps of the political process as outlined in the road map presented by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's envoy, Jan Eliasson, which calls on all parties to cease hostilities and prepare for forthcoming negotiations.

Together with Eritrean officials, the team also met with First Vice President Salva Kiir in Juba in southern Sudan on 2 July to discuss the role of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the political process.

Comments by UN Secretary-General

South Africa welcomes comments by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who on Monday 2 July 2007 said there had been "slow but credible" progress towards peace in the strife-torn Sudanese region of Darfur in the past six months.

Ban said that Sudan's President Omar al-Beshir "has recently shown some signs of flexibility" on the issue of a hybrid force of 20 000 UN and AU peacekeepers, having previously resisted outside intervention.

Still, the international community has so far failed to show sufficient resolve during four years of fighting in which the UN estimates nearly 200 000 people have been killed, and a further two million forced to flee their homes, he added.

"The people in Darfur have suffered too much and the international community has waited too long. It is now high time for us to take necessary action and I hope the Sudanese government will implement faithfully the commitment they have made," the UN chief said.

Ban said there were four main tracks that all players should follow to bring peace to Darfur, namely humanitarian assistance; the hybrid peacekeeping force, the political process with Khartoum; and the prospect of reconstruction and development assistance in the post-conflict era.

These four aspects were reconfirmed by China, France, the United States and some 15 other nations at a meeting in Paris last week, and will be reasserted at a further meeting chaired jointly by the United Nations and African Union in New York in September.

AU-UN Peacekeeping Force for Darfur

The United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) met Friday 29 June 2007 with potential contributors of troops and police to the planned African Union-UN hybrid operation for the violence-wracked Darfur region in Sudan.

The DPKO plans to hold informal discussions with the potential contributors and then another meeting after the Security Council officially authorizes the hybrid operation and establishes a mandate.

Offers from African countries will be given priority but other offers will also be accepted, especially if there are not enough suitable African commitments.

The potential contributors were given a briefing on the requirements for the hybrid force, which is expected to need almost 20,000 troops, more than 6,000 police and nearly 5,000 civilians at full deployment. The logistical challenges of deploying in Darfur, a remote and impoverished region the size of France on Sudan's western flank cannot be underestimated.

The current focus is on expediting the deployment of the heavy support package, which is the second leg of the three-phase programme to support and enhance the under-resourced AU Mission in Darfur (AMIS), he said.

"Most, if not all" the offers necessary have been received and now the potential contributors have to visit Darfur to assess the situation to determine equipment needs.

South Africa welcomes the Sudanese Government's unconditional support of a joint AU-UN peacekeeping force in Darfur following talks with a Council delegation earlier this month.

Now the Security Council will adopt a resolution regarding the establishment of such a force, after which a budget must be prepared.

The challenges the new hybrid force - which will report to both the UN and the AU - could face, the two organizations are "committed to working together to coordinate their work so that the operation can work as smoothly as possible."

Paris Meeting regarding Darfur

A high-level meeting in Paris bringing together over a dozen countries concerned about the situation in the war-ravaged Darfur region of Sudan has helped generate additional momentum towards ending the suffering of the people there.

Delegations from the world's top aid donors, members of the Group of Eight industrialised nations and from China, a key ally of Sudan, met in Paris to help find a political solution to the conflict and provide cash for peacekeeping and humanitarian aid.

The United Nations is maintaining its focus on four distinct tracks - the political process, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, and reconstruction and development in Darfur.

The South African government welcomes the observation by the Secretary-General that considerable progress has been made with respect to the deployment of the UN-African Union hybrid peacekeeping operation, as well as in reinvigorating political dialogue among the parties.

The United Nations and African Union have developed a road map to negotiations, with the objective of restarting peace talks by the end of the summer.

Comments by French President Sarkozy

Nicolas Sarkozy, the new French president, has urged the international community to find a way to solve the humanitarian crisis in Darfur warning that "silence kills".

"As human beings, and as politicians, we must resolve the crisis in Darfur," Sarkozy said after hosting the meeting in the Elysee palace in Paris.

Sarkozy said the existing force of 7,000 AU troops, which is widely seen as ineffective and is to be reinforced by the proposed hybrid force, must get more funding. He said France was willing to contribute roughly $13.46 million.

The EU pledged an extra $41.7 million of humanitarian funds for "the coming months".

Comments by US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice

"The international community simply cannot continue to sit by," Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice told reporters at the end of the one-day meeting aimed at galvanizing peace moves in western region of Sudan. "We really must redouble our efforts."

"Those who have been around this for a while are going to work very hard against backtracking. We have had circumstances in which we have had agreements before and those agreements have not gone forward," she said.

Co-operation between UN and AU

There had been a working meeting between the Security Council and its African Union counterpart, during which all the representatives had, among other things, expressed the desire to hold an exchange of views at least once every year and the shared understanding that, on peace and security matters, the African Union would always be acting on behalf of the international community and ensure that its actions benefited the work of the Security Council.

The meeting also discussed how the United Nations could, on a case-by-case basis, assist the African Union with regard to resources, particularly when it was acting on behalf of the Security Council. This was a difficult and sensitive issue, particularly since it hinged on financing and budgetary matters that were decided, not by the Council, but by the General Assembly. Also during the meeting, the African Union had extended the mandate of the African Union Mission in the Sudan for another six months.

It is understood that, increasingly, the Council would have to look to regional actors to help it maintain international peace and security. Therefore if the African Union was delivering better peace and security in the region, this was good for numerous initiatives and measures falling within the Council's ambit, including in the areas of conflict prevention, peacekeeping, post-conflict activities, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and security sector reform.

The delegation visited Côte d'Ivoire on 18 and 19 June. The top priority in Abidjan had been to welcome the ownership of the Ivorian peace process by the parties in the context of the Ouagadougou Agreement.

The delegation noted that the Ouagadougou Agreement had created a new atmosphere in Côte d'Ivoire. Although it would not immediately resolve the problems at the heart of the crisis, it had established a new dynamic towards resolving them. Both the President and the Prime Minister had agreed that delays in implementation had merely been due to technical difficulties and the parties remained committed to implementing the Agreement's provisions. South Africa calls on the United Nations to continue to assist during the electoral period in the areas of security, international assistance and support for the certification process.

There was great improvement in the security situation, and the commanders of the neutral forces estimated only a "minimal risk" of a return to hostilities. However, remaining problems included high criminality, including many illegal control posts on the roads, and lack of progress in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process. The Facilitator requested the Council to agree to a partial lifting of the arms embargo to enable the police forces to maintain law and order. Several mission members, however, had expressed doubts about lifting the embargo, as security sector reform and disarmament were still pending.

The Prime Minister indicated that a key challenge to address would be the identification process. The mission was convinced of the need for continued international assistance to Côte d'Ivoire.

The Mission visited the Democratic Republic of Congo on 20 June. South Africa welcomes the Council's decision to extend the presence of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), while adapting its mandate to the post-transition situation.

South Africa remains concerned about the situation in the Kivus was caused by the activities of the forces of Laurent Nkunda and former members of the Forces armées rwandaises (FAR)/Interahamwe. The most pressing concern for the Congolese authorities was a political and diplomatic solution without completely excluding military action.

As for security sector reform, he said the police and army seemed to have made little progress, despite the creation of some integrated brigades. The mission had stressed the importance of consolidating any progress and of establishing a truly professional army. It had asked the authorities to draw up a plan describing the type of army the country needed, as well as the necessary resources. The mission had also called on the Congolese authorities to take all necessary measures to end atrocities committed by certain elements of the national security forces.

He said the mission had also raised the question of relations between the Government and the opposition, and stressed the importance of respecting the latter's constitutional role. All parties must remain committed to the political process and to national reconciliation.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

The United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is taking measures to help the authorities bolster security in the country's troubled eastern provinces of North and South Kivu, a spokesperson for the United Nations said.

MONUC said UN peacekeepers, in cooperation with the Congolese Army, have conducted some 600 patrols in the two provinces in recent weeks, including more than half that figure in the course of last week alone as part of efforts to restore security and public safety.

"UN peacekeeping naval units have also stepped up patrols on Lake Kivu to stop illegal traffic of firearms between DRC and neighbouring countries," spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters in New York.

The region has been the scene of insecurity caused by armed groups and continuing military operations. On 26 May, a group of 10 to 12 militiamen attacked the villages of Nyabuluze and Muhungu in South Kivu province, killing 18 civilians, among them women and children, and wounding more than two dozen, according to MONUC, which condemned the massacre "strongly and unequivocally."

Deteriorating Security Situation in Eastern DRC

International Committee of the Red Cross expresses concern over abuses in South Kivu

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has expressed concern over abuses against civilians, especially women and children, in South Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, saying it frequently receives reports of abductions, executions, rapes and pillage.

Announcing an operation on 2 July to help 15,000 people displaced by increased violence in the region, the ICRC said a large number of families had fled their homes in the region.

"The ICRC is particularly concerned about abuses committed by armed persons against the civilian population, usually women and children," said Patrick Walder, head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Bukavu.

The displaced are in the locality of Kaniola, 60km east of the provincial capital, Bukavu.

"The operation has been made possible by a broader humanitarian effort coordinated between several large international organisations working in the country," the ICRC said in a statement. "That effort is covering the most urgent needs of 55,000 people affected by the violence."

To support medical facilities struggling to cope with the influx of internally displaced persons fleeing the violence, the ICRC is also providing Walungu and Kaniola hospitals with medical kits to treat the wounded, and other essential supplies.

The organisation said it would continue to monitor the security situation in the area and pursue its dialogue with the local civilian and military authorities.

"To this end it is maintaining a confidential dialogue with the relevant authorities about violations of international humanitarian law, while closely monitoring the situation of people displaced within the country," the ICRC said.

Comments by OCHA

On 22 June, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said attacks on civilians and clashes between Congolese and Rwandan rebels had hindered efforts to reach affected populations in eastern DRC.

The attacks were mainly perpetrated by the Forces démocratiques pour la libération du Rwanda (FDLR) rebels, who fled their country after the 1994 genocide, and continue to clash with the Forces armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC).

The head of OCHA in South Kivu, Modido Traore, said the situation meant populations were constantly on the move. According to OCHA, attacks against civilians reached a peak in March. Some calm prevailed thereafter, but a new wave occurred in May.

One such attack left 18 dead in Nyalubuze, Muhungu and Cihamba, with 27 injured and four kidnapped. Leaflets were dropped giving warning of more trouble.

CÔTE D'IVOIRE

Security Council, in Presidential Statement, Issues Strong Condemnation of Attack Against Côte D'Ivoire Prime Minister's Plane

South Africa supports the Presidential statement which reads as follows:

"The Security Council strongly condemns the attack committed on 29 June 2007 in Bouaké against the Prime Minister of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, Guillaume Soro, that resulted in several deaths, and any attempt to destabilize the peace process by force. It stresses that the perpetrators of this criminal act must be brought to justice.

"The Security Council recalls its support for the Agreement signed by President Laurent Gbagbo and Guillaume Soro in Ouagadougou on 4 March 2007 under the facilitation of the Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso. It stresses that it is critical that all parties continue to work within the framework of the Ouagadougou political Agreement, which is the way to settle the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire."

Displaced Persons Need More Help, Says UN Rights Expert

Walter Kälin, the Secretary-General's Representative for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), after a five-day visit to Côte d'Ivoire called on the international community and donors to support the programmes in place to help returnees readjust to regular life.

He said, "Without money, there is no programme. Without programmes, there are no lasting solutions and if lasting solutions are not found" [for the IDPs], then the peace is also in jeopardy of not lasting.

He noted that some people have already started returning to the north and west of Côte d'Ivoire, which has been divided between the Government-controlled south and the rebel-held north since 2002, when a UN peacekeeping mission to the country, known as UNOCI, began maintaining a "zone of confidence" between the two sides.

But many of these returnees have few resources and their arrivals are placing a strain on local communities, he added. Female-headed households, young mothers and widows are especially vulnerable.

"Displaced persons, even when they return to their homes, live in an extremely vulnerable situation and they need continuing humanitarian assistance during the transition period."

SOMALIA

We continue to be faced with a situation of escalating violence. The Reconciliation Conference is still being held up and not progressing as quickly as we think it should.

A positive development has been that elders from the dominant Hawiye clan in Somalia's capital have met to consider co-operating with a fragile government struggling to bring peace to the embattled country, but the future is fraught with religious and clan differences that make stability only a distant dream.

After two hours of talks on Monday, more than 300 Hawiye leaders suspended their meeting for two days because they could not agree on who should attend.

The government wanted the Hawiye at a reconciliation conference scheduled for July 15 and envisioned as a chance for elders to deal with past clan grievances.

Humanitarian Crisis

Escalating violence in Mogadishu this month has forced more than 3,500 people to flee the Somali capital in recent weeks, the United Nations refugee agency has reported.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also reported that only 123,000 of the estimated 401,000 civilians who fled the heavy fighting that raged in Mogadishu between February and May have returned to the capital.

Even as people continue leave Mogadishu, they are returning at nearly a tenfold rate. UNHCR said that while more than 3,500 people fled the city in June, an estimated 33,000 returned there in the same period.

In another major new displacement development, UNHCR's local partners report that some 10,000 people have fled violence between rival clans in and around the southern coastal city of Kismayo.

Most of those unwilling to return to Mogadishu cite continuing insecurity at a time when daily acts of violence are rising despite claims by the Ethiopian-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) that it has defeated insurgent forces.

"These people say they will not come back until Mogadishu is completely safe," a UNHCR staff member reported from the capital.

The latest fighting has left many civilians dead and injured from rocket attacks, roadside bombs and crossfire, the agency said.

The UNHCR staffer said that some of the civilians who recently returned to the capital are leaving it once more because of the insecurity. "Others leave their neighbourhood to move to another part of the city because of persistent bomb explosions close to their homes, especially in the north of the city. They fear being caught in skirmishes," he added.

The TFG has to date evicted 2,000 people in order to restore the buildings to public use. "These families are lost, they can no longer access the place where they used to live and sometimes their houses have been already destroyed by the authorities," said a local aid worker whose organization works with UNHCR.

He said these vulnerable people needed water, food and shelter. Many of them also needed to find employment so that they could support their families. UNHCR has asked the TFG to halt the evictions and to help provide basic services and find alternative solutions for these displaced people.

Report by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

In his latest progress report on the situation in Somalia, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the TFG's efforts to secure key public institutions in Mogadishu are continuing to face significant resistance from remnants of the deposed Union of Islamic Courts and from various sub-clans of the Hawiye clan, which is dominant in the city.

The rest of the country remains plagued by widespread banditry, lawlessness and intra-clan violence, he adds in the report, noting the situation is more volatile since tensions erupted again in the Puntland and Somaliland regions in April.

He stresses that the UN system would continue its efforts to meet the serious humanitarian needs across the impoverished country.

Mr. Ban said it was important for the Somali transitional government to reach out to opposition groups to ensure that Congress is as inclusive as possible, adding he pledged to encourage troop contributions and other support to the existing African Union mission in the country, known as AMISOM.

Somalia calls for UN peacekeepers

The Somali prime minister has urged the UN Security Council to send peacekeepers to his country, but council members told him they wanted to see steps towards peace first.

Ali Mohamed Gedi said on Thursday 28 June 2007 that Somalia wanted to see the African Union's Somalia force, AMISOM, transformed into a UN mission.
"Somalia is at a critical crossroads and it is the right time for the United Nations Security Council to assist in the maintenance of peace and security," Gedi said.

"It's not fair to say, 'Make peace and I will come and keep it', It's not right to ignore or neglect the interests of the Somali people," he added.

Emyr Jones Parry, the British ambassador, said that the West supported Gedi's government, but expected political progress before sending troops.

"We need to get AMISOM reinforced, and if peace is brought about and there's sufficient agreement, the United Kingdom will support a UN peacekeeping presence in Somalia," he said.

BURUNDI

There has been another breakthrough. As you know, the Facilitator Minister Charles Nqakula on 17th June 2007 in Tanzania organised a meeting between Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza and leader of the Paliphehutu-FNL Chairman Agathon Rwasa. President Kikwete also attended this meeting.

This meeting decided on a new programme of action. An agreement was reached to move the processes along speedily.

It also ensured that a Forum was created to unblock obstacles that may arise in future.

We are now confident that, following this meeting, the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism will become operational and that there will be a speedy conclusion to the negotiations.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

The following Security Council press statement on the Central African Republic was read out Tuesday 3 July 2007 by Council President Wang Guangya (China):

The members of the Security Council heard a briefing by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, General Lamine Cissé, on the situation in the Central African Republic, and reiterated their appreciation for his role as head of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA).

The members of the Security Council expressed their concern at the continuing volatility of the security situation in certain parts of the Central African Republic, due in particular to banditry and the activities of armed groups. They expressed appreciation to the members of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa for the action of the Community's Multinational Force in the Central African Republic (FOMUC), as well as to the African Union and the European Union for their political and financial support. They called on the partners of the Central African Republic to continue to support FOMUC, as well as security sector reform in the Central African Republic.

The members of the Security Council encouraged the authorities to organize a dialogue with all Central African political forces and civil society, in order to consolidate peace and stability in the country. They encouraged the Government to continue its discussions with rebel groups in order to restore security to the whole territory, and called on these groups to act in accordance with the constitutional and legal framework by giving up any armed activity.

The members of the Security Council called on the authorities to fight impunity and ensure the full implementation of the international obligations that the Central African Republic has accepted concerning the protection of human rights and international humanitarian law. They expressed serious concern at the human rights situation in the Central African Republic and reports of disproportionate use of force by Government forces, and condemned the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by armed groups and also by some elements of the Central African Armed Forces.

The members of the Security Council encouraged the Government to continue and intensify its efforts, with the help of its international partners, in order to effectively fight poverty and promote sustainable economic and social development, through a reform process based on good governance, in particular.

The members of the Security Council recalled their readiness to examine the deployment of a multidimensional United Nations presence in the regions of eastern Chad and the north-eastern Central African Republic neighbouring the Sudan, and looked forward to the upcoming report of the Secretary-General on the basis of the contacts that the delegation he dispatched to Chad and Central African Republic had in those two countries.

MIDDLE EAST

The situation remains catastrophic. As you know, having military taken over Gaza, the Gaza is now separated from the West Bank.

The new emergency government is trying to do its work.

STATEMENT BY MIDDLE EAST QUARTET

Following is the text of a statement issued by the Quartet (United Nations, Russian Federation, United States, European Union):

Quartet principals noted that recent events in Gaza and the West Bank make it more urgent than ever that we advance the search for peace in the Middle East. The Quartet reaffirms its objective to promote an end to the conflict in conformity with the Road Map, and expresses its intention to redouble its efforts in that regard. The urgency of recent events has reinforced the need for the international community, bearing in mind the obligations of the parties, to help Palestinians as they build the institutions and economy of a viable State in Gaza and the West Bank, able to take its place as a peaceful and prosperous partner to Israel and its other neighbours.

To facilitate efforts to these ends, following discussions among the principals, today the Quartet announced the appointment of Tony Blair ( United Kingdom) as the Quartet Representative. Mr. Blair, who is stepping down from office this week, has long demonstrated his commitment on these issues.

As Quartet Representative, he will:

  • Mobilize international assistance to the Palestinians, working closely with donors and existing coordination bodies;
  • Help to identify and secure appropriate international support in addressing the institutional governance needs of the Palestinian State, focusing as a matter of urgency on the rule of law;
  • Develop plans to promote Palestinian economic development, including private sector partnerships, building on previously agreed frameworks, especially concerning access and movement; and
  • Liaise with other countries as appropriate in support of the agreed Quartet objectives.

As Representative, Tony Blair will bring continuity and intensity of focus to the work of the Quartet in support of the Palestinians, within the broader framework of the Quartet's efforts to promote an end to the conflict in conformity with the Road Map. He will spend significant time in the region working with the parties and others to help create viable and lasting Government institutions representing all Palestinians, a robust economy and a climate of law and order for the Palestinian people.

Tony Blair will be supported in this work by a small team of experts, based in Jerusalem, to be seconded by partner countries and institutions.

The Quartet representative will report to and consult regularly with the Quartet and be guided by it as necessary.

The Quartet looks forward to welcoming Mr. Blair at its next meeting.

(Comment by Deputy Minister Pahad: we will monitor progress in the mandate of former Prime Minister Tony Blair. The South African government does not believe that you can have reconstruction and development without peace and security and that will not be possible until the situation in Israel and Palestine is solved on the basis of a two-state solution.)

Israel returns Palestinian funds

Israel has begun returning to the Palestinians some of the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax funds it had frozen for 17 months, hoping to bolster Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, while isolating his Hamas rivals.

A senior Palestinian official told Reuters Israel's initial transfer was $120m, a fraction of the sum held by Israel.

Salam Fayyad, the prime minister in Abbas's government, chaired a cabinet meeting on Monday to discuss how the funds would be used.

After the meeting, Riyad al-Malki, the information minister, said: "On Wednesday we will start paying salaries to the public sector, civil and military employees.

"We are delighted that the public sector will be paid fully for the first time since February 2006."

Malki stressed that employees working for or allied with Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip last month, would not be paid.

Saeb Erakat, chief Palestinian negotiator, said some of the money would be earmarked to help ease the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.

"Gaza will be our priority. Our people there have suffered enough because of the despicable coup d'etat and should not suffer more," Erakat said.

Humanitarian Crisis

The United Nations agency tasked with helping Palestinian refugees on Thursday 28 June 2007 welcomed the opening of the Karni crossing point between Israel and the Gaza Strip, which has allowed 5,000 tons of wheat to reach Gaza.

UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) spokesperson Chris Gunness said it was now crucial that Karni is permanently open and fully functional.

"If we are to avoid total aid dependency for Gaza, we need to get commercial imports and exports moving," Mr. Gunness said.

UNRWA and other UN aid agencies have been warning that Gaza faces food shortages within weeks unless the border crossing points into Israel are re-opened after they were closed during the deadly intra-Palestinian fighting that erupted earlier this month.

The Karni crossing is considered particularly vital as it used to handle 200 to 300 trucks each day and is the main commercial crossing between Gaza and Israel.

The Erez crossing remains open to international agencies' staff and to health referrals to Israel, while no interruptions have so far occurred along the Nahal Oz line, which supplies petrol, diesel and cooking gas to Gaza. But the Rafah crossing - the main crossing for people - has been closed since 10 June, and an estimated 5,000 Palestinians are waiting at the Egyptian border to return to their homes in Gaza.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said UN agencies are currently meeting the basic needs of the Gaza Strip's estimated 1.4 million residents, with about 80 to 90 trucks carrying relief supplies able to enter the territory daily.

But there is still a long way to go, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said today.

"Everyone is working hard on this and I welcome the news of our increased capacity to deliver urgently-needed aid in Gaza, but I cannot over-emphasize the importance of ensuring the resumption of full-scale supplies through the main crossing points and beginning to open up regular economic access too."

Since the crisis began in the Gaza Strip, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has reported that there are 100,000 additional recipients of food aid in the crowded territory. The Programme helps about 377,000 people in Gaza, while UNRWA provides food assistance to some 860,000 others there.

(Comment by Deputy Minister Pahad: we will try to see how the South African government can assist the Palestinians find some unity amongst themselves so they can get on with the major task of seeking a two-state solution.)

NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION: IRAN

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in an interview on 27th June 2007 said the Security Council should let the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency work toward a resolution of the dispute over Iran's nuclear development programme.

"This must be resolved through political negotiations, through dialogue," Ban said. When IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei "says he wants to have a plan of action and engage in dialogue, I support that kind of initiative," he said.

Inspectors are preparing to travel to Iran at the invitation of the country's top security chief for negotiations on what the IAEA called a plan "for resolving outstanding issues related to Iran's nuclear programme."

Questions and answers

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, did President Mbeki brief SADC leaders at the African Union Summit? If not, when does he intend to do so?

Answer It was expected that President Mbeki would use the opportunity of the presence of SADC leaders at the AU Summit to brief them on developments in the mediation process. I was not there and our delegation has not yet returned but I do believe that President Mbeki would of as planned, briefed SADC Heads of State on the Facilitation thus far.

I will brief you further when I next speak to you.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, you met with the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister yesterday. Did he use this opportunity to seek an assurance of South Africa's position should this matter come before the Security Council again?

Answer The Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister was here to attend a legal conference being held in Cape Town. He is the Deputy Minister in charge of multilateral organisations.

He basically briefed us on the talks between the Iranian Chief Negotiator Larijani and EU Policy Chief Javier Solana. They have now had three talks. The Iranians are saying that they are willing to resolve all outstanding issues within the framework of the IAEA. However, because of their parliamentary decision, they cannot co-operate with the IAEA even on the implementation of the additional protocol, a voluntary mechanism they have signed, unless there is a stop to efforts to put another resolution before the Security Council.

They have told the European Union that they need to make all the necessary preparations to finalise discussions with the IAEA within their 60 days cooling off period.

As you know, they have said that taking the matter to the Security Council has not assisted in any way. In fact it has only made matters worse. What began with trying to find a compromise 20 centrifuges has now been escalated and they are now on 168 centrifuges.

They have consistently said the threat of sanctions is something they have had to take into account but they have made the necessary preparations should this happen.

They are firm in their position that this should not be taken to the Security Council unless the other processes within the IAEA have been completed.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, there are reports that the Portuguese Foreign Minister has said there could be some difficulty on the attendance of President Mugabe at the Summit later this year. Is the African position completely intractable on this matter?

Answer This is a very important conference that has been held up since Cairo on precisely this point. Our view is that nothing stops an item being placed on the agenda but I think that Africa will not move on its position that you cannot determine the African delegation to the Summit. There is a concern that if this is so, a precedent will be set and it can be another country in the future. If we allow this to happen, we will not be able to have a united approach in our dealing with the Europeans on many many fundamental issues. We do hope this matter will be handled sensitively.

I do think the Foreign Minister has clarified that this would be his view but is not that of the organizing committee as a whole.

Question Deputy Minister, how concerned are you regarding the economic decline of Zimbabwe?

Answer All the reports are indicating there is a serious problem. The SADC Executive Secretary was here last week during which he briefed us on the second part of the mandate given to the SADC Secretariat by the Extraordinary Summit - ie. the visit by the Secretariat to assess and report on the economic crisis.

By and large, there are indications that inflation stands at 5000%, the currency has for all intents and purposes collapsed, there is no new inward investments excepting in some sectors like mining, unemployment is rising.

The Reserve Bank Governor in December 2006 highlighted the crisis of the economy which has now been exacerbated.

We are concerned that the economic situation in not in the interests of the people of Zimbabwe. SADC's mandate to help to address this situation becomes very urgent.

This is a separate process to our political facilitation process. We did ask the Executive Secretary to go to the AU Summit to brief the SADC leaders on the plans he is proposing to deal with the economic crisis in Zimbabwe.

So, we are concerned.

Question Deputy Minister, do you have any idea on how many Zimbabweans are in South Africa?

Answer This figure is not scientific and continues to increase. The last figure I heard, although I am not sure on what basis this is calculated, is that there are three million undocumented Zimbabweans in South Africa. This does not account for the professionals and entrepreneurs who are coming in with the correct documentation and working in South African sectors.

It is quite high anyway.

This is why, for South Africa, the resolution to the Zimbabwean political, economic and social situation is critical. South Africa is affected by this and we cannot prevent Zimbabweans from entering South Africa.

Question Deputy Minister, are there any key developments re: Western Sahara?

Answer As I said last time, the first meeting has taken place between Polisario, representatives of the Moroccan government, Mauritania and Algeria.

The Secretary-General has said that there is expected to be a follow up later this week.

We will brief you further when there is any movement.

Clearly, the Secretary-General will put out a report on this matter in the next few days and this matter is being discussed within the Security Council.

Question Deputy Minister, when will the peer review report be released?

Answer You should raise the matter with Minister Moleketi since she is the line function Minister.

The process of the peer review is that: experts peer review a country. This is then submitted to the host country for comments and is then sent back to the experts. For the first time we have had a consensus and this was the report presented in Ghana.

I have seen in the media today that the report can be released within 6 months.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

5 July 2007


Quick Links

Disclaimer | Contact Us | HomeLast Updated: 5 July, 2007 4:07 PM
This site is best viewed using 800 x 600 resolution with Internet Explorer 5.0, Netscape Communicator 4.5 or higher.
2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa