Notes following Media Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, Media Centre, Amphitheatre, Union Buildings, Wednesday, 15 August 2007

SADC

 As you know, the Ministerial session preceding the SADC Summit is currently underway. South Africa is being represented by a very high level delegation: Ministers Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Trevor Manuel, Mandisi Mpahlwa, Lulu Xingwana, Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, Charles Nqakula, Mosiua Lekota and Deputy Minister Rob Davies.

South African President Thabo Mbeki will, later today Wednesday 15 August depart for Zambia where he will lead a high-powered South African Ministerial delegation to the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government scheduled for Thursday-Friday 16-17 August in Lusaka.

On Wednesday, President Mbeki supported by Minister Dlamini Zuma is expected to participate in the meeting of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation scheduled for later in the day to discuss the regional political situation.

As is widely expected, following the decision by the SADC Extraordinary Summit in March this year to launch two initiatives, President Mbeki will report on the progress his facilitation has achieved in terms of the political initiative undertaken by SADC to help the Zimbabweans create the climate in which they could conclude discussions so that the 2008 elections will be free and fair.

It is also expected that the Executive Secretary of SADC will report on the second initiative decided at the Extraordinary Summit – ie. the economic initiative.

There will therefore be two reports – the political and the economic.

We are very surprised at reports in the international and domestic media of a leaked report purported to be coming from the President dealing with the facilitation and indeed indicating that this report of the President is apportioning blame to the British government.

I want to categorically state that we are not aware of any such report prepared by the President and indeed, the President’s mandate is only to deal with the political facilitation process so the source of these reports is difficult to determine.

In this respect the Foreign Affairs spokesman of the Democratic Alliance has just issued a very strong statement, again commenting on a report of which we have not knowledge nor any information of its origins and authenticity. I can again categorically state that we are not aware of any such report prepared by the President.

We do want to state however, it is important for all sections of the South African media, and especially the opposition party, to not comment on unsubstantiated leaked reports. It would have been easy to check with any of the officials in Foreign Affairs or indeed at the Presidency if such a report has been made. I do expect the Presidency will issue a statement on this matter later this morning.

This is the annual meeting of the SADC Foreign Ministers and Heads of State and Government.

Off course some of the major political issues will be tackled within the framework of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation. But there are certain matter that must be tackled.

Following the Grand Debate at the African Union Summit in Ghana in July this year on the African government and the processes that would culminate in this government, this SADC Summit has to pay special attention to the attention of the economic integration processes in the region.

One of the priorities, within this context, is infrastructure development. The Summit will also have to assess the progress we have made in the implementation of the Free Trade Area which is scheduled to be implemented by 2008. Indeed, this Summit will impact on the processes of fastracking the integration of the region to enable us to move towards an African government at the appropriate time.

In the context of reports (that I will come back to) on the matter of climate change and its disastrous possible consequences for Africa, food security is also high on the agenda of the Summit. As you know, I briefed you last time that the relevant UN agencies had made emergency appeals to alleviate a food disaster situation in Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

The other area that will be high on the agenda is the 2010 FIFA World Cup that will be held in South Africa, with albeit, an African focus and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Tournament scheduled for Angola.

These are some of the key issues this Summit will have to come to grips with.

At this Summit, on Friday 17 th August 2007, the SADC Brigade of the African Standby Force will be launched. This is a very important development – the launching of the SADC Brigade as part of the African Standby Force because it is increasingly clear that the United Nations has come to the conclusion that in conflict resolution it has to deal with sub-regional organisations and that this is part of new innovations to deal with conflict resolution in the post-Cold War era.

The African Standby Force will not be based in Botswana but each component of it will be resident in their respective countries. The South African component will therefore be based in South Africa on a permanent alert basis. This is a very important development that will allow us to more effectively deal with conflict resolution within SADC and the African continent as a whole.

OFFICIAL LAUNCHING OF THE SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY BRIGADE (SADCBRIG)

The security of African Nations remains subject to a variety of military and non military risks that are multi-dimensional and often difficult to predict. Whilst the potential for inter-state disputes have not diminished, the last ten years have seen the appearance of complex new risks to peace and stability, including oppression, ethnic conflict, economic distress, the collapse of political order, the proliferation of small arms and organised international crime. When crises arise they are increasingly involving many factions and contain conflict elements which may be inter and intra and/or trans national in nature and involve the cross border movement of refugees, internally displaced people, migrants and wide spread human rights abuses. Such intra state conflicts and trans-national activities are generally perpetrated by sub state actors or ‘war lords’, non-state actors, militias, criminal elements and armed civilians and not solely by regular armies.  As a result social cohesion and state institutions collapse, law and order breaks down, banditry and chaos prevail and the civilian population flees the conflict region or the country.

The international community is compelled to respond to complex emergencies by deploying assets that have multiple functions to crisis zones. Such crisis induced operations are generally described as peace support operations (PSO) and may be co-ordinated under the auspices of the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU), or African regional organisations such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), etc.

Initial engagement with the host nation may be limited to socio-economic and political development as part of international conflict prevention efforts and relief agencies.  Such development and relief agencies may be UN bodies, such as United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHRC) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) or independent non-governmental organisations (NGOs), such as Save the Children and CARE or international and intergovernmental organisations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).  However, should the crisis develop and further political engagement becomes necessary, the situation may demand military and civilian components intervention.

Military intervention may be conducted by a regional or sub-regional organisation or, in the case of more complex operations requiring a robust command and control infrastructure by a UN commanded force, military alliance or a coalition of willing member states operating under an internationally recognised mandate.

Efforts by the international community to respond to such crises aimed at restoring law and order and to create a self-sustaining peace must address both the underlying causes, as well as the symptoms of the crisis or conflict related disaster. A crisis instigated response or peace support operation will therefore generally include political, diplomatic, military, and civilian (including police, rule of law and civilian administration) and humanitarian efforts to control any conflict and this culminate in the promotion of reconciliation, the re-establishment of effective government and a self-sustaining peace.

Complex governance crises involving conflict and a humanitarian disaster tend to engage a wide range of political bodies. Recent operations have involved not only the UN, but also organisations such as the European Union, NATO, AU, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and others, and international financial institutions like the World Bank and other regional and ad hoc political bodies. It is at this political level that the mandate for an operation is developed with advice from member states.

The UN remains the prime International Organisation and the only body which can endorse the existence of such regional or sub-regional organizations in accordance with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter.  The UN Charter provides the terms of reference for the various elements of the UN, and for regional arrangements and agencies in fulfilling this responsibility. Although the Charter makes no specific reference to PSO, the three chapters which most relate to PSO are; Chapter VI, that deals with the pacific settlement of disputes, Chapter VII, that refers to such actions by air, sea or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security, and Chapter VIII, that deals with regional arrangements.

THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE AFRICAN STANDBY FORCE

The African leaders have stood firm in a bid to resist conflicts and are keen to develop the necessary structures to respond to continental problems. They were guided by a common vision of a united and strong Africa and took up the multifaceted challenges that confront the continent and peoples in the light of the social, economic and political changes taking place in the world. They realised that the scourge of conflicts in Africa constitutes a major impediment to the socio-economic development of the continent and that they need to promote peace, security and stability as a prerequisite for Africa’s development and integration. The African leaders decided among other things to establish an African Union, in conformity with the UN Charter and the ultimate objectives of the OAU Charter.  The hitherto conflict management mechanism that was developed in 1993 was replaced by a new mechanism in 2002.  The mechanism consists of five organs prominent amongst which are the Peace and Security Council (PSC), the African Standby Force (ASF) and the Military Staff Committee (MSC).

The concept of shared responsibility between the UN and some regional organisations is one of the most important innovations in the management of international security in the post-Cold War era for the effective management of conflicts within the regions of the world. Africa is at the forefront of efforts to formalise the relationship between the UN and a regional organisation, in this case the AU, with the specific objective of enhancing the management of conflicts.  At the same time, the deterioration of security in Africa, especially the rise in the number and intensity of internal conflicts, led to a re-opening of the debate on the need for a continental security agenda and ultimately led to the creation of the AU in 2002.

The Policy Framework Document for the Establishment of the ASF and MSC was approved by the African Heads of State in Addis Ababa in July 2004. The establishment of the force has been given legal backing in Article 4(d) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union and Article 13 of the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. The concept is that once fully established the ASF will consist of standby multidisciplinary contingents, with civilian and military components located in their countries of origin and ready for rapid deployment anywhere in Africa at appropriate notice. The Framework Document called for the establishment of the ASF in two phases, Phase One ended on 30 June 2005, Phase Two will end by 30 June 2010.

CURRENT OPERATIONALISATION STAGE OF THE SADCBRIG

The purpose of SADCBRIG is to participate in Missions as envisaged in Article 13 section “Mandate” of the Protocol Establishing the PSC of the AU that includes performing the functions which are: (1) observation and monitoring missions; (2) other types of peace support missions; (3) intervention in a Member State in respect of grave circumstances or at the request of a Member State in order to restore peace and security, in accordance with Article 4(h) and (j) of the Constitutive Act; (4) preventive deployment in order to prevent 9[i] a dispute or a conflict from escalating, [ii] an ongoing violent conflict from spreading to neighbouring areas or States, and [iii] the resurgence of violence after parties to a conflict have reached an agreement; (5) peace-building, including post-conflict disarmament and demobilisation; (6) humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of civilian population in conflict areas and support efforts to address major natural disasters; and (7) any other functions as may be mandated by the PSC or Assembly.

SADCBRIG, like all other regional brigades, will be part and parcel of the ASF.  The conceptual framework is designed in such a way that the earmarked capabilities of the Troop or Personnel Contributing Countries and pledged to SADCBRIG, should remain domiciled within their countries of origin, on an ‘ON CALL’ level of alert for the duration of the assignment in line with the response times as prescribed.  In short, this is in fact a permanent standby arrangement.

Unlike other Regional Economic Communities or Regions which have permanent Brigade headquarters and the PLANELMs, the only permanent structure SADC has is the PLANELM which is located at the SADC Headquarters in Gaborone and composed of a regional military, police and civilian staff on secondment from SADC Member States on rotation.  The SADC PLANELM is an autonomous organisation which is not intended to be incorporated into the SADCBRIG structure during actual missions. It operates on a daily basis as a tool of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation and receives its guidance from the SADC Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff and the Committee of SADC Police Chiefs.

THE LAUNCHING OF THE SADCBRIG

A Memorandum of Understanding was concluded among the Participating Nations in order to provide a sound legal basis for their co-operation in the establishment and maintenance of SADCBRIG.

Most of the preparatory work with regard to the establishment of the SADCBRIG is completed and it will be officially launched by the SADC Summit on 17 August 2007 in Lusaka, the Republic of Zambia.  Activities towards the launch of SADCBRIG are underway and the Launching Preparatory Team is already appointed comprising the Organ Troika, the SADCBRIG Planning Element (PLANELM) and the Host ( Zambia).

 FUTURE PLANS OF THE REGION TOWARDS THE SADCBRIG

The readiness of any force is determined by a combination of its training, easy mobilisation procedures as well as the rehearsed generic contingencies. Training the Brigade at all levels will remain key priority in order to achieve the principle of compatibility and interoperability of its systems and equipment. The training of soldiers and units for peace support operations remains the responsibility of the participating nation.  Due to the differences inherent in general military training among the various nations, the required level of training proficiency for soldiers and units assigned to SADCBRIG should be achieved by standardised training objectives rather than through a standardised training curriculum.  Common standards must be developed as to the minimum training objectives to be achieved. These standards should be compatible with the standards already developed by the United Nations.  The work already done by the Inter-State Defence and Security Committee in this area will serve as a sound basis for a way forward. The RPTC and other national peace support training institutions will play the central role of training military commanders, police officers and civilian officials at various levels while, at the same time, acting as a “Clearing House” for all Peace Support Operations training activities in SADC.

Improvement of the strategic management structure of SADCBRIG will also be a priority to be able to identify emerging conflicts and project credible force as dictated by the prevailing situation. Improvement in the formulation of peace support operations doctrines and policies will also continue. Further, the SADCBRIG should possess a rapid deployment capability for deployments of a limited duration within SADC region or beyond on a United Nations, African Union or SADC mandate.  The Brigade must include, in its composition, a robust capacity for self-defence and self-extrication in the event of a mission becoming untenable.

The Roadmap for the operationalisation of the SADCBRIG was produced covering the period up to the year 2010 and is in tandem with that of AU and the other RECs’ Roadmaps.

The region agreed to establish the Main Logistics Depot Botswana in order to support the operations of the Brigade. The purpose of establishing a central depot is to keep stock of the operational requirements. Discussions between the SADC Secretariat and the Government of Botswana are at the advanced stage to enter into agreement in a form of Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment and operations of the Depot.

 SA-DRC BNC

South African Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma will on Saturday 18 August 2007 depart from Lusaka, Zambia for Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo ahead of the South Africa – Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Binational Commission scheduled on Tuesday 21 August 2007.

The SA-DRC BNC to be co-chaired by Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Joseph Kabila will be preceded by a Ministerial meeting to be co-chaired by Minister Dlamini Zuma and her counterpart, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Antipas Mbusa Nyamwisi scheduled from Sunday – Monday 19-20 August 2007.

South Africa 's participation in the fourth session of the South Africa - DRC BNC comes within the context of the its commitment to consolidate relations with the DRC and to support the political, economic reconciliation and nation building processes in the country.

This session of the Binational Commission comes at a very important time. It follows the conclusion of democratic processes through which free and fair elections were held in the DRC after more than 40 years, the presence of the opposition leader Jean Pierre Bemba in Portugal and indeed a volatile security situation in the east of the country.

 

The fourth session of the South Africa - DRC Bi-national Commission, is expected to evaluate:

 

  • The status of Politics and Diplomacy co-operation includes the capacity building project, the public service census project, population and immigration matters;
  • Defence and Security co-operation includes security sector reform projects;
  • Economy, finance and infrastructure co-operation includes spatial development initiatives, mining, geology and metallurgy, energy, civil aviation, technical assistance in financial administration and agriculture;
  • Social and humanitarian affairs which includes co-operation in the fields of education, and humanitarian and health projects; and
  • Evaluate how current projects support the development priorities of the DRC and the identification of possible additional projects to this effect.

 

South Africa is heavily involved in the post reconstruction and development processes in the DRC.

South Africa ’s assistance to the DRC is informed by its vision of an “African Renaissance” of peace, stability and security and sustained renewal, growth and socio-economic development for the African Continent. South Africa is committed to a strategy for post conflict reconstruction and development in the DRC that is aligned with that of the African Union and NEPAD. South Africa’s assistance to the DRC is broadly based on 3 key areas as decided by Cabinet, which are: the Security Sector Reform (SSR), Institutional capacity building and Economic development. In this regard, the following Government Departments are currently active in the DRC :

The Department of Foreign Affairs has engaged its DRC counterpart in a capacity building programme which includes the facilitation of the first phase of training of DRC Ambassadors; training of two groups of line-function officials with a third training session planned for the second half of 2007. A joint project has also been established with the DRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs to refurbish the Diplomatic Academy.

The Department of Defence continues its support to the FARDC in terms of the registering of soldiers and the integration process in general. It assists with the training of the newly integrated units and to provide essential basic services.

The South African Police Services facilitates the development of medium term organisational development plan for policing in the DRC, provide technical assistance and mentoring, facilitate the development of a regulatory framework for policing, operational development support and infrastructure development.

The Department of Home Affairs provides capacity building in population and immigration matters, training of trainers, identification for the supply of relevant equipment and infrastructure technology transfer, development of standard operating procedures regarding immigration and population matters and the development of national population register and identification cards production.

The Department of Housing provides assistance to formulate policy and legislative frameworks for the provision of housing, institutional capacity building, land management, land lease and sites servicing mechanisms, development of urban planning and management tools, micro finance and savings linked credit schemes for housing, community driven and developer driven housing, upgrading of informal settlements and urban renewal.

The South African Management Development Institute (SAMDI) supports the establishment of a National School for Public Administration that has started with training of public service officials. SAMDI will also continue to support training for management and leadership development, re-building of public administration and human resource planning.

The Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs is assisting with the rehabilitation of the Inga 1 and 2, electrification of Kimbanseke, the installation of pre-paid metering, the rehabilitation of the Zongo power plant including the electrification of the Bas Congo. On the mining sector, both the Ministries of Mines and Minerals and Energy (South African Diamond Board) cooperates on diamond evaluation, marketing and re inforcement of regulations to improve and guard against fraud in the diamond sector would be explored.

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) will extend technical support to the DRC Revenue Service to implement the Agreements on The Avoidance of Double Taxation (DTA) and Mutual Assistance on Customs Co-operation (MAA).

With regard to economic development, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), will support the Bas Congo Spatial Development Initiative (SDI). The Bas Congo corridor provides Kinshasa with a crucial link to the coast. On 23-24 April 2007, the DTI invited South African Businesses to the ASCCI Conference addressed by President Joseph Kabila. The South Africa-DRC Business Forum aims at highlighting trade and investment opportunities in the DRC especially since the new Government has committed itself to encourage local and foreign investment in the country to stimulate economic growth and development.

The Department of Social Development will assist the DRC Ministry of Social Affairs with the categorization of identified personnel with the aim of developing of tailor-made curriculae for the various categories of social work personnel. The Department will also conduct a workshop during 2007 to sensitize and exchange information on South African programmes for vulnerable groups such as children as well as persons with disabilities.

Given the magnitude of the task, it is clear that the reconstruction process in the DRC will continue to need international support. However as a newly elected government and with most of the Government Ministers having very little experience, South Africa should support the DRC to channel and organise its development needs while maintaining its sovereignty as an independent state. In this regard, South Africa could share her experience of engaging the international community and international financial institutions, following its own 1994 landmark elections.

South Africa also welcomes the renewed MONUC mandate which has been extended to December 2007. The mandate that has a membership of 17, 030 military personnel and 1 900 military observers, police and police trainers, spells out the United Nations role to train the Congolese armed forces and police in observing human rights. The maintenance of the MONUC force in the DRC will contribute to contain and eventually eradicate the violence committed by armed militias especially in the volatile eastern part of the country. The refusal of militia leaders, like the former General Laurent Nkundabatware, to fully commit themselves to the integration of their troops into the FARDC, remain a source of instability and violence in the Kivu Province. The DRC government is currently launching initiatives, with the assistance of the international community, in an attempt to bring peace, security and stability back to regions in the eastern Congo afflicted by conflict and instability.

CLIMATE CHANGE

This is an issue that is gaining relevance with the region, the continent and indeed globally. I refer to the fact that all reports are indicating that Africa will suffer the worst effects of this phenomenon.

The World Meteorological Organisation in Geneva on Tuesday 7 August 2007 said weather and climate have been marked by record extremes in many regions across the world since January 2007. In January and April 2007 it is likely that global land surface temperatures ranked warmest since records began in 1880, 1.89°C warmer than average for January and 1.37°C warmer than average for April. Several regions have experienced extremely heavy precipitation, leading to severe floods. The Fourth Assessment Report of the WMO /UNEP Intergovernmental Group on Climate Change (IPCC) notes an increasing trend in extreme events observed during the last 50 years. IPCC further projects it to be very likely that hot extremes, heat waves and heavy precipitation events will continue to become more frequent.

WMO and the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of its 188 Members are working with other UN Agencies and partners towards the establishment of a multi-hazard early warning system. Furthermore, they are putting in place sustainable observation systems needed for monitoring and assessing the impacts of climate change and determining the adaptation priorities for the most vulnerable countries.

We do hope that the issue of climate change within the developmental context will gain increasingly prominence in our foreign policy, through the relevant Ministries.

I also hope that the media will play a role in projecting the dangers of climate change that are becoming increasingly pronounced throughout the world.

Climate Change and Food Security

Climate change could lead to potential food shortages and increase the risk of hunger in developing countries.

However, industrialized countries could see an increase in their crop yields, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said in a speech in Chennai, India on August 7 th 2007.

At low latitudes, more frequent droughts and floods would decrease local production. “Rain-fed agriculture in marginal areas in semi-arid and sub-humid regions is mostly at risk.”

For example, India stands to lose 125 million tons of its rain-fed cereal production, close to 20%of its total production.

SUDAN

We continue to be happy with the progress that has been made on the operationalisation of the AU-UN Hybrid Force for Darfur.

The immediate task is to establish a core command and control capacity, leading to, by October, the full financial and administrative arrangements necessary for the transfer of authority from the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) to UNAMID.  The new force would take effect on or before 31 October.

There is continuous dialogue with the African Union and its partners concerning the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS) needs during the transition, as well as active dialogue with the Government of the Sudan.

With more than 26,000 military and policy personnel mandated by the Council, in addition to some 5,000 civilian staff, the operation would be the largest of its kind ever deployed by the United Nations. This would be the largest such operation ever deployed under the auspices of the United Nations. One can therefore expect many difficulties and new innovative ways of dealing with the mandate of this operation.

At a meeting of troop-contributing countries held on 2 August substantial pledges needed for infantry elements were made, which, as planned, looked like they would be dominated by African units.

The force was planned to be a highly mobile, dynamic one, not confined to static bases, with robust rules of engagement under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.  In addition to the standard armaments of infantry battalions, attack helicopters had been requested.

The operational concept was still being finalized, however, and would be continue to be developed as the force became familiar with the territory, she said.  As mentioned in the Council resolution, it was still Sudan’s responsibility to ensure the safety of its citizens.  There were no provisions for “hot pursuit” of malfeasants across borders.

However, important support, such as aviation and ground support that were expected from the non-African contributing countries, still fell short.  In the tight time frame, firm commitments from the troop contributors were needed by today 15 August, with all contributions finalized within 30 days, according to the Council resolution.

The United Nations will supply the civilian staffing and management.  Commercial contractors will provide the remaining services and resources.

It is expected that the operation’s headquarters will be located near the town of El Fasher in central Darfur, with additional sector headquarters in Nyala in the south and El Geneina in the west.  The subsector headquarters was planned for Zalingie, and up to 55 troop deployment sites were anticipated.

The major logistical difficulties being anticipated included the size and aridity of the province, hence the need for transport aircraft and a complex water strategy, now being developed in conjunction with technical consultants. 

Funding remains a challenge with the cost of the operation estimated at over $2 billion annually, but the figures could not be confirmed because such a large hybrid force was unprecedented.

Humanitarian support for such activities was a priority of the operation, which, like all other components, required the continued cooperation of the Sudanese Government.

It is vital that the developed countries, not only those in the Security Council, who have been clamouring for a hybrid force for Sudan must commit themselves to moving more decisively to make the necessary resources – financial and others - available for this force to be operationalised by October 2007.

Experts needed for Darfur mission, says UN

African nations have confirmed pledges of 11 000 to 12 000 troops for Darfur's joint United Nations-African Union mission so far.

"African pledges to participate (in the force) have reached 13-14 battalions, which is equivalent to 11 000 to 12 000 troops," SMC quoted Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad as saying.

A senior UN peacekeeping official earlier this month said mostly African nations had pledged infantry but key logistics and air support was lacking.

Analysts say much of this support needs to come from Western nations, which have yet to give any firm pledges of military personnel.

Darfur Peace Talks

We have always maintained that a military solution would not be possible for Darfur and while we prepare for the hybrid force, we must intensify our efforts to facilitate a conclusion to the peace talks.

We are happy that the UN-AU sponsored “pre-negotiation” talks held from 3-6 August 2007 in Arusha, Tanzania have been successful. Indeed, the groups have now agreed to work together to try to devise a solution to the deadly conflict that has devastated the Sudanese region since 2003.

Four days of talks in Arusha in Tanzania ended with a pledge from the rebels reaffirming their commitment to the Road-Map outlined by the UN and African Union Special Envoys Jan Eliasson and Salim Ahmed Salim.

The representatives of the rebel movements agreed to present a common platform on the sharing of power and wealth, security arrangements, land and humanitarian issues, and they also recommended that final talks towards a political solution to the Darfur conflict be held in two or three months’ time.

Mr. Eliasson and Mr. Salim chaired the Arusha talks, which were also attended by representatives of Chad, Egypt, Eritrea and Libya, to chart the progress being made towards the staging of final negotiations on the Darfur crisis.

The talks also intended to “create an enabling environment for the non-signatories [to last year’s Darfur Peace Agreement] to meet and consult among themselves, with other participants and the Special Envoys in order to facilitate the preparations for the negotiation.”.

Not all of the non-signatories attended the Arusha talks. In the statement of conclusions, the rebel groups that participated “decided to keep open the possibility for those who were invited but did not participate in the Arusha Consultations, to join their common platform.”

Security Council press statement on Darfur

The following press statement on Darfur was read out on Thursday 9 August 2007 by Council President Pascal Gayama ( Congo):

The members of the Security Council welcome the substantial progress made by the Special Envoys [Jan Eliasson for the United Nations and Salim Ahmed Salim for the African Union] at Arusha on Darfur.  That progress builds on the momentum generated by the meeting held in Tripoli on 13 July 2007 and the adoption of Security Council resolution 1769 (2007).  The Council continues to stress the importance of pursuing the political and peacekeeping tracks simultaneously.

The members of the Security Council now call on all parties to move from pre-negotiations to negotiations as soon as possible and to demonstrate their commitment to the political process through concrete actions, in particular a cessation of hostilities.

The members also call on all key movement leaders to enter and participate in the AU-UN process.

Discussions with Government of Sudan to implement 6 August agreement

Senior United Nations officials on Friday 10 August 2007 held their first round of high-level consultations with the Government of Southern Sudan to see how to better implement the January 2005 comprehensive peace agreement that ended the country’s protracted north-south war.

A delegation from the UN Mission in Sudan ( UNMIS), headed by the Secretary-General’s Acting Special Representative Tayé-Brook Zerihoun, travelled to Juba in Southern Sudan for the talks.

The meeting is being staged after the parties to the peace pact agreed in June to hold periodic consultations with UNMIS to review the agreement’s implementation.

We want to expedite movement in this regard.

Aid to Sudanese Flood Victims

Up to half a million Sudanese flood victims have received emergency aid from United Nations agencies and their partners, including water purification products to avert the huge risk of epidemics, in the wake of four weeks after torrential rains that have devastated many parts of the vast country.

“Although the floods came earlier than expected, the response has been swift and successful,” acting UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator David Gressly said today. “We had contingency measures in place, and were able to prevent further distress to the population.”

But he warned that if current flooding patterns continued unabated, the situation would deteriorate considerably. The rains are expected to continue until at least mid-September.

The UN and its partners have so far supplied essential supplies to some 200,000 people, whose indispensable household goods were lost in the destruction. Families received badly needed commodities, such as blankets, plastic sheeting for shelter, jerry cans for carrying and storing clean water, cooking sets, and sleeping mats. But it is estimated that many more people will need similar relief over the coming months.

Amidst the risk of waterborne epidemics, the lack of clean water has been a primary concern. In cooperation with the Government, the UN and partners have so far provided purification products and hygiene education to some 500,000 people without access to clean water, with over 1,400 kilograms of chlorine powder and 878,000 chlorine tablets already supplied.

In Kassala near the Eritrean border, tankers are delivering clean water to the worst affected, covering at least 10,000 people. Over the rest of the rainy season clean water – a potential life-saver – will continue to be a priority need for hundreds of thousands.

Despite these measures, 637 cases of suspected acute watery diarrhoea were reported in the states of Gedaref and Kassala in the country’s east, leading to 39 known deaths. Emergency epidemic surveillance measures have been put in place, along with pre-positioning of preventive and curative health supplies. Over 34,000 people in the affected areas have received cholera awareness education.

In order to respond to the increased risk of potential diseases transmittable by insects, the UN and partners will endeavour to procure sufficient medicines, mosquito nets, insecticides and other supplies to cover all those in need until the emergency is over.

So far, 40,000 flood victims have received food, but the UN estimates that many more could soon be in need of emergency food rations.

“We are working closely with the Government, to reach accurate estimates of the needs of those affected, and of the funding requirements,” said John Clarke, the UN official at the forefront in coordinating the response to the floods. “This will ensure that, together, we maximize the efficiency of our efforts to bring relief to those in need.”

The worst affected areas are the states of Kassala, Khartoum, Northern Kordofan, Unity, and Upper Nile. Well over 30,000 houses were fully destroyed there and at least 365,000 people have already been directly affected, including a reported 64 dead and 335 injured.

On a second front, some 4.9 million children across the north of Sudan are being targeted in a special three-day round of polio immunization starting today, led by the Health Ministry and backed by the UN Children’s Fund ( UNICEF), the UN World Health Organization ( WHO) and other partners in response to reports of polio being discovered in neighbouring Chad.

Sudan has not reported any cases of polio itself since 2005. “In the last few years, incredible efforts in the face of many challenges have led us to a point where polio could soon be stamped out in Sudan,” UNICEF Representative Ted Chaiban said. “But because polio respects no borders, we have to ensure that when cases are found close to home, we redouble our efforts to protect children.”

 Demobilisation of soldiers in South Sudan

This is an area, outside of Darfur, with which we are concerned.

South Sudan will begin to demobilise at least 25 021 soldiers, but full support packages for former combatants are not assured yet because of United Nations funding delays.

The UN is expected to provide packages including seeds and tools to help soldiers reintegrate into society.

The soldiers to be demobilised cost the semi-autonomous southern government $5m a month in salaries.

In June, the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) integrated 31 000 former militia members, which analysts said strained the army's budget.

The SPLA had at least 170 000 soldiers.

Arop Monytoc, head of the South DDR Commission, said registration of the soldiers to be demobilised would begin whether or not the UN DDR body, which had promised support packages, was ready to assist, but he criticised them for being too slow.

SOMALIA

We continue to be concerned about this matter. Violence continues unabated.

It has been conservatively estimated that between February and May, over 400,000 civilians had fled heavy fighting between the Ethiopian-backed TFG and insurgents in the volatile Somali capital. Of those 400,000, some 125,000 have returned to the city, according to figures compiled by UNHCR and a network of partners. At the same time, another 27,000 fled in June and July.

Refugees say the insecurity is widespread, with constant bombing and gun battles. Mothers are unable to buy food for their children and workers unable to make a living. They also complain that their children cannot attend school and many neighbourhoods are isolated because of insecurity or road closures.

The crisis in Somalia will continue unabated unless we find a political solution to the matter.

UNHCR on July 24 July issued a $48 million appeal to fund our work in Somalia and neighbouring countries until the end of next year.

World Food Programme Aid to Somalia

A health assessment by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) among the internally displaced people (IDPs), indicated a global malnutrition rate of 21.5% among children under the age of five and a severe acute malnutrition rate of 3% - a nutritional emergency, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

UNESCO concerned at growing incidents of violence against the media

The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ( UNESCO) Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, on Tuesday 14 August 2007 voiced grave concern at the growing violence against the media in Somalia following the murder of two journalists and the injuring of a third.

“Journalists and media workers provide a service that is essential for any democratic society, a service that becomes all the more vital in societies that are trying to find their way out of strife,” Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a statement.

“Journalists play an indispensable role in enabling citizens to hold open debate and make informed decisions. There can be no acceptable political or religious reason for attacking the men and women who make possible the fundamental human right of freedom of expression,” he added.

HornAfrik Radio journalist Mahad Ahmed Elmi was gunned down by four unknown men on Saturday and Ali Iman Sharmarke, founder and chairman of HornAfrik, was killed in his car by a remotely detonated mine as he returned from his colleague’s funeral. Reuters News Agency Reporter Sahal Abdulle was injured in the blast.

BURUNDI

Not much progress has been made in getting the Paliphehutu-FNL to political process by agreeing to the comprehensive peace agreement.

We need a solution to this situation because here too, the United Nations agencies has appealed to donors on Tuesday 14 August 2007 for at least $20 million for increased food aid to help many of the 149,000 Burundian refugees in camps in Tanzania to return home, warning that without more funding the initiative may collapse.

“Unless new contributions arrive now, we will have to cut rations across the board to everyone we assist or face a complete break in supplies in December,” UN World Food Programme (WFP) Burundi Country Director Gerard van Dijk said.

“While security has improved significantly in Burundi, refugees say that with improved food security, there would be better prospects for return,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees ( UNHCR) country representative Bo Schack said, echoing WFP’s appeal.

“The increased food package is an important step in our joint effort to help returnees reintegrate in their home communities. We are appealing for strong donor support for this initiative.”

Since April, WFP has provided a four-month food ration to returnees from Tanzania. The agency and its partner Caritas, a non-governmental organization, will now provide a six-month ration, helping families through their first difficult months before their first harvest in their homeland. “We hope that this larger ration will speed up the pace of returns to Burundi this year,” Mr. van Dijk said.

It is “particularly worrying that we are in a funding crunch at the same time as the Government of Tanzania is pushing for more refugees to return home,” he added. “We need to be able to tell families considering a return that they can count on food and other aid to help them.”

Returning refugees receive a two-month ration as they start their journey in Tanzania, and can then use vouchers to collect the remaining four-month entitlement close to their homes. Forty-five permanent distribution centres and 72 mobile distribution facilities have been set up in the provinces.

In a similar bid to boost repatriation, UNHCR introduced a cash grant in July. Each returnee receives the equivalent of almost $50 upon arrival to buy essential goods. Some 6,000 refugees have returned since the launch of the cash initiative, more than half of the over 10,000 returnees since the beginning of the year.

Since 2002, more than 340,000 refugees have returned voluntarily. Overall, Tanzania hosts nearly half a million refugees, making it one of the largest asylum countries in Africa. In addition to the 149,000 Burundians, there are also 110,000 Congolese living in camps in northwestern Tanzania, where they receive UNHCR and WFP aid. According to Government estimates, another 200,000 Burundians live outside the camps.

 WESTERN SAHARA

A second round of United Nations-backed talks on Western Sahara took place on Friday - Saturday 10-11 August 2007 outside of Manhasset, New York.

Talks led by the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Peter van Walsum were attended by Morocco and the Frente Polisario – and neighbouring countries Algeria and Mauritania.

Morocco and Frente Polisario agreed that the status quo is unacceptable and the process of negotiations will continue.

In a communiqué, Mr. van Walsum said that, at his initiative, the parties heard presentations by UN experts on specific issues, including natural resources and local administration, while confidence-building measures between the two sides were also proposed for discussion.

Communiqué of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara (In agreement with the Parties)

Representatives of Morocco and the Frente POLISARIO met in Manhasset, New York, at the Greentree Estate, on 10 and 11 August 2007, continuing their discussion under the auspices of the Secretary-General, and in accordance with Security Council resolution 1754 of 30 April 2007. Representatives of the neighbouring countries, Algeria and Mauritania, were also present at the opening and closing sessions and were consulted separately during the talks.

I am pleased that we were able to hold substantive talks in which the parties interacted with one another and expressed their views. A debate took place with regard to the implementation of Security Council resolution 1754. Also, at my initiative, the parties heard presentations by United Nations experts on specific issues such as natural resources and local administration. Confidence-building measures were also proposed for discussionThe parties acknowledge that the current status quo is unacceptable and they have committed to continue these negotiations in good faith. They have agreed that the process of negotiations will continue and that appropriate consultations will be completed regarding the date and venue of the coming round.

Statement by Mahfoud Ali Beiba, head of POLISARIO Delegation, on 11 August 2007

“The second round of negotiations between the Frente POLISARIO and Morocco, which has just ended in Manhasset, was useful. It gave the Frente POLISARIO the opportunity to reaffirm its readiness and to present the outline and advantages for the region of its proposal regarding a just and lasting solution to the decolonisation conflict of Western Sahara.

“The Frente POLISARIO has fully cooperated with Mr Peter van Walsum, Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General, in the discussion of the confidence-building measures needed for creating a positive climate between the two parties. The delegation of the Frente POLISARIO was prompted by the concern to ensure that Morocco puts an end to its repressive practices and repeated violations of human rights in the occupied territories of Western Sahara.

“With the prospect of the recovery of the Saharawi State of its full sovereignty over its territory, the Saharawi delegation has presented the view and policy of the Frente POLISARIO regarding the management of natural resources of the country and administration of local communities.

“During the second round, the Personal Envoy and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General have demonstrated great determination to bring about, with the necessary cooperation of both parties, a breakthrough in the negotiations. For its part, the Frente POLISARIO has made its contribution in this spirit and in this direction.

“The Frente POLISARIO is hopeful that the third round of negotiations would mark a qualitative development of the process as a whole. We hope that the other party would cease its dilatory manoeuvres and engage, in good faith, in the effective implementation of the Security Council resolution 1754.

[Comment by Deputy Minister Pahad: Clearly both sides remain committed to their positions: Morocco maintains its autonomous policy; Western Sahara insists that, in line with UN resolutions, you cannot avoid implementing the UN resolutions that speak for more than 30 years, of decolonisation.

We do hope that these talks will bring about some resolution.

One of the Chief Negotiators of the Frente Polisario is visiting South Africa and we will meet with him later today to get an understanding of the negotiating processes and what they expect South Africa and Africa to do to assist in finding a solution

MIDDLE EAST

Ehud Olmert, Israeli prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, met in Jericho on Monday 6 August 2007 to discuss resuming negotiations on Palestinian statehood.

The Israeli leader made clear at the outset of the three-hour summit, their first in the West Bank, that it was not the opening of bargaining about core issues but rather talks about talks.

“I came here in order to discuss with you the fundamental issues outstanding between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, hoping that this will lead us soon into negotiations about the creation of a Palestinian state,” Mr Olmert said.

Both leaders have pointed out the need for broad agreement on principles before detailed negotiations could begin. For the Palestinians that means establishing the outlines of a final peace settlement that would include the most contentious issues.

Humanitarian Crisis

Across Gaza, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) have been forced to halt all of its construction projects – some 93 million dollars worth – because we have been unable to import building supplies in sufficient quantities. We urgently need to get these into Gaza if we are to avoid a significant worsening of the living conditions ofthose who have waited months, and even years to have their own homes.

The urgency of opening up the crossings, not just for humanitarian supplies, but for imports and exports cannot be over-emphasized.

It is estimated that the total accumulative loss to industry in Gaza has reached 23 million dollars since June – that amounts to an average of half a million dollars lost every day, since the closures were imposed. If this continues, the PAB predicts that at least 120,000 workers in Gaza will lose their jobs. In the construction sector alone, about 160 million dollars worth of projects have been halted, which includes UNRWA, UNDP and others.

The Deputy Commissioner General of UNRWA Filippo Grandi warned that Gaza risks becoming a virtually one hundred per cent aid dependent, closed down and isolated community within a matter of months, or even weeks, if the present regime of closures continues.

He appealed to the Palestinian authorities, to Israel and all other parties to take immediate steps to open up the Karni Crossing, to imports and exports, as well as humanitarian goods, in compliance with the demands of the United Nations and of the Quartet. Only this will allow the little that remains of Gaza’s economy to survive.

Failure to do this will lead to disastrous consequences: an atmosphere of hopelessness and despair in which extremism is likely to take hold.

NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION: IRAN

Acting Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli on Tuesday 7 August 2007 rejected the IAEA Chief Mohammad ElBaradei's offer for direct talks with the US on Iran's nuclear problem.

"Minor talks can however be held within the G5+1 framework with the US as a member of the UN Security Council so as to solve the nuclear issue speedily," said Fazli.

He called on the West to put forward the ideas which could both honour Iran's legitimate right and allay their real concerns.

On Iraq, Fazli dismissed the US' "repetitive" accusations against Iran and said that's a mere propaganda to cover up Washington's real image. " Tehran has evidence that Americans do not cooperate with Iraq's legal government seriously and that they occasionally incite and mobilize different factions and ethnic groups against the government there," he added.

IAEA-Iran Co-operation

Iran has announced its willingness to grant more access to United Nations nuclear agency inspectors to help it avert further U.N. sanctions.

Iran intends that in return for its vast cooperation with the agency ... some proper actions will be taken in order to create mutual trust. These actions can include the prevention of another (U.N. sanctions) resolution.

New sanctions could harm " Iran's cooperation with the agency and make the atmosphere harsh," Rahmani-Fazli said.

Iran would not accept any proposal that included the idea of suspension of nuclear activities, he said, but he also appeared not to rule out the idea of Iran ceasing to expand its nuclear programme if major powers did not push for more sanctions.

"If they (the West) mean that we continue our (nuclear) activities to some extent and at the same time negotiate with them, that is a different issue," he said.

Comments by President Ahmadinejad

On Tuesday 7 August 2007, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated his country would continue its nuclear work, which Tehran says is solely aimed at generating electricity so that it can export more oil and gas.

US-Iran Negotiations

US and Iranian officials held talks in Baghdad on Monday 6 August 2007 as a security sub-committee set up two weeks ago met for the first time.

The US and Iran, which have had limited contacts since the 1979 Iranian revolution, agreed to set up the committee last month during a meeting of their respective ambassadors in an effort to stabilise Iraq.

The formation of the committee was seen as a key step to enabling dialogue between the two countries and officials said the talks would continue at a future date.

The US accuses Iran of providing support to Shia militia networks in Iraq, including a deadly variant of roadside bomb. Iran denies the allegations.

Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president, hosted the talks, which included Marcie Ries, the US embassy’s counsellor for political and military affairs, and Mr Abdollahian.

The talks, which lasted several hours, and were described by both sides as “frank and serious”, dealt with security issues in Iraq, a US embassy official said.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who led the Iranian delegation, said the sides had discussed “the way the wrong policies of the [ US] occupiers in Iraq have led to the strengthening of terrorism”.

The Financial Times reported that Iran’s leadership believed some progress was possible. One official said Iran’s calculation in talking to Washington was that the US was close to accepting the reality of a Shia-led government in Iraq, even though that was resisted by the Sunni Arab establishment, including Saudi Arabia.

Tehran in turn is keen that the US take steps to curb the growth of Al-Qaeda and other extreme Sunni groups, which have flourished in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. Iranian leaders are worried about the spread of militant Wahabbi Islam.

Meanwhile, five government ministers loyal to the Iraqi National List of Iyad Allawi, the former prime minister, began a boycott of the Iraqi cabinet.

Members of parliament from the party, which classes itself as non-sectarian, said the ministers were carrying out the boycott because Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s Shia prime minister, had failed to meet the party’s demands on political reform.

This comes after last week’s resignation of six ministers who are members of the main Sunni Arab political coalition.

IRAQ

 EXPRESSING UNITED NATIONS DEEP COMMITMENT TO PEOPLE OF IRAQ, SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 1770 AS CHANCE TO ENHANCE CONTRIBUTION

Following is the text of the statement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the Security Council today:

I welcome the decision of the Security Council today to renew and strengthen the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq ( UNAMI) through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1770 (2007).

The United Nations is deeply committed to helping the people of Iraq, and I am pleased to have the opportunity to now enhance, where possible, our contributions in crucial areas, such as national reconciliation, regional dialogue, humanitarian assistance and human rights.

A peaceful and prosperous future is for Iraqis themselves to create, with the international community lending support to their efforts.

The United Nations looks forward to working in close partnership with the leaders and people of Iraq to explore how we can further our assistance under the terms of this resolution.

I take this opportunity to express my profound appreciation and respect to the people and Government of Iraq for their courageous efforts to make their country more stable, democratic and prosperous.

As we remember our colleagues who died in Baghdad four years ago, I also take this opportunity to pay tribute to the brave men and women who continue to serve the United Nations in Iraq.  As we move forward, their safety and security will remain a paramount concern.

 DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

 SECURITY COUNCIL RENEWS ARMS EMBARGO IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGOUNTIL 15 FEBRUARY 2008, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1771 (2007)

The full text of resolution 1771 (2007) reads as follows:

The Security Council,

Recalling its previous resolutions, in particular resolution 1756 (2007), and the statements by its President concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular on 23 July 2007,

Reaffirming its commitment to respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as all States in the region,

Welcoming the establishment in the Democratic Republic of the Congo of democratically elected institutions, and reaffirming the sovereign authority of the elected government to establish effective security and control throughout the national territory,

Taking note with satisfaction of the adoption of the programme of the Government, in particular the governance contract included therein,

Taking note of the final report (S/2007/423) of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo established pursuant to resolution 1698 (2006),

Condemning the continuing illicit flow of weapons within and into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, declaring its determination to continue close monitoring of the implementation of the arms embargo imposed by resolution 1493 (2003) and expanded by resolution 1596 (2005), and to enforce the measures provided for in resolution 1596 against persons and entities acting in violation of this embargo, as amended and expanded by resolutions 1649 (2005) and resolution 1698, and recognizing the linkage between the illegal exploitation of natural resources, illicit trade in such resources and the proliferation and trafficking of arms as one of the factors fuelling and exacerbating conflicts in the Great Lakes region of Africa,

Recalling its resolution 1612 (2005) and its previous resolutions on children and armed conflict, and once again strongly condemning the continued recruitment and use of children in violation of applicable international law, in the hostilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,

Reiterating its serious concern regarding the presence of armed groups and militias in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly in the provinces of North and South Kivu and the Ituri district, which perpetuate a climate of insecurity in the whole region,

Taking note of the report of the Security Council mission which visited Kinshasa on 20 June 2007 (S/2007/421),

Recalling the importance of urgently carrying out security sector reform and of disarming, demobilizing, resettling or repatriating, as appropriate, and reintegrating Congolese and foreign armed groups for the long-term stabilization of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,

Noting that the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region,

Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

“1.   Decides to renew until 15 February 2008 the measures on arms imposed by paragraph 20 of resolution 1493 as amended and expanded by paragraph 1 of resolution 1596;

“2.   Reaffirms paragraph 21 of resolution 1493 and paragraph 2 of resolution 1596, and recalls in particular that the measures referred to in paragraph 1 above shall not apply to supplies of arms and related materiel or technical training and assistance intended solely for support of or use by units of the army and police of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, provided that the said units:

(a)   Have completed the process of their integration, or

(b)   Operate under the command, respectively, of the état-major intégré of the Armed Forces or of the National Police of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or

(c)   Are in the process of their integration, in the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo outside the provinces of North and South Kivu and the Ituri district;

“3.   Decides further that the measures referred to in paragraph 1 above shall not apply to technical training and assistance agreed to by the Government and intended solely for support of units of the army and police of the Democratic Republic of the Congo that are in the process of their integration in the provinces of North and South Kivu and the Ituri district;

“4.   Decides that the conditions specified in paragraph 4 of resolution 1596, as now applied to the Government, shall apply to supplies of arms and related materiel as well as technical training and assistance which are consistent with such exemptions noted in paragraph 2 and 3 above and notes in this regard that States have an obligation to notify such supplies in advance to the Committee referred to in paragraph 7;

“5.   Decides to renew, for the period specified in paragraph 1 above, the measures on transport imposed by paragraphs 6, 7 and 10 of resolution 1596;

“6.   Decides to renew, for the period specified in paragraph 1 above the financial and travel measures imposed by paragraphs 13 and 15 of resolution 1596, paragraph 2 of resolution 1649, and paragraph 13 of resolution 1698, and reaffirms the provisions of paragraph 14 and 16 of resolution 1596, and paragraph 3 of resolution 1698;

“7.   Recalls the mandate of the Committee established pursuant to paragraph 8 of resolution 1533 (2004), as expanded pursuant to paragraph 18 of resolution 1596, paragraph 4 of resolution 1649 and paragraph 14 of resolution 1698;

“8.   Calls upon all States, in particular those of the region, to support the implementation of the arms embargo and to cooperate fully with the Committee in carrying out its mandate;

“9.   Requests the Secretary-General to re-establish for a period expiring on 15 February 2008 the Group of Experts established pursuant to paragraph 10 of resolution 1533 and expanded pursuant to paragraph 21 of resolution 1596;

“10.  Requests the Group of Experts to fulfil its mandate as defined in paragraph 5 and 17 of resolution 1698, to update the Committee on its work as appropriate, and to report to the Council in writing, through the Committee, by 15 January 2008;

“11.  Requests MONUC, within its existing capabilities and without prejudice to the performance of its current mandate, and the Group of Experts referred to in paragraph 9 above to continue to focus their monitoring activities in North and South Kivu and in Ituri;

“12.  Reaffirms its demand, expressed in paragraph 19 of resolution 1596, that all parties and all States cooperate fully with the work of the Group of Experts, and that they ensure:

--the safety of its members,

--unhindered and immediate access, in particular to persons, documents and sites the Group of Experts deems relevant to the execution of its mandate;

“13.  Further demands that all parties and all States ensure the cooperation with the Group of Experts of individuals and entities within their jurisdiction or under their control, and calls on all States in the region to implement fully their obligations under paragraph 12 above;

“14.  Decides that, no later than 15 February 2008, it shall review the measures set forth in paragraphs 1, 5 and 6 above, with a view to adjusting them, as appropriate, in the light of consolidation of the security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular progress in security sector reform including the integration of the armed forces and the reform of the national police, and in disarming, demobilizing, resettling or repatriating, as appropriate, and reintegrating Congolese and foreign armed groups;

“15.  Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

Questions and answers

Question           Deputy Minister Pahad, with the anti-mercenary bill having been concluded some time ago, will the South African government attempt to trace the South African mercenaries in Iraq?

 Answer               Let me say that this problem of South Africans in Iraq continues to be of deep concern to the government. We do not have any diplomatic representation in Iraq and our consultations with other governments have not enabled us to determine exactly how many South Africans are in Iraq. Unscientific reports seem to indicate that the numbers could be in the region of 10000. Some of these are South Africans with dual nationalities and many do not travel directly from South Africa to Iraq so it is very difficult to determine real numbers. We are only aware of South Africans in Iraq when we receive reports of casualties. But I can confirm that there are many South Africans in Iraq participating in what they claim to be defence and security related activities and not mercenary activities.

Question           Deputy Minister Pahad, regarding global warming: you say there are expected to be increased highs and lows in weather patterns. Has the South African government researched this matter?

 Answer               The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism is preparing a document for Cabinet on this matter in which he will outline increasing reports of this threat and its specific impact on South Africa and also within the context of Africa.

We are now linking global warming to development because if it continues as it has been, then there is no way in which Africa will achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

We await this Cabinet Memorandum outlining South Africa’s preparations and how we can assist the region for what is going to hit us sooner rather than later.

Question            Deputy Minister Pahad, the South African National Defence Force today indicated that we had been requested to provide troops to Darfur. Can you provide more information in this regard? Have we been requested to provide any of the commanders?

 Answer               Let me say, this is a matter for the Department of Defence. This has not yet been shared with us.

But obviously, South Africa will have to make a major contribution to what is going to be an African force in Sudan. By its very nature it will include military personnel but also logistical and other support.

There is a general agreement that we should support this Hybrid Force in Darfur in whatever way we can.

The details will only be provided when the Ministry of Defence has indicated what is available in the Defence Force.

Question            Deputy Minister Pahad, the Heads of State of North and South Korea will hold their first meeting in many years later this month. Could you please comment on this?

 Answer               We have previously said that the 6-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue were progressing well and we were hoping that this momentum would be sustained since it would impact on other non-proliferation issues, inter alia, the Iranian nuclear situation.

This North Korea – South Korea meeting is part of this broader confidence building that has to take place. These talks had gone a long way before the North Koreans restarted their nuclear programme. There was even talk of opening the borders and working towards one Korea. We hope these talks would be fruitful and further improve the climate the successfully conclude the 6-Party Talks. We must end the impasse and the isolation of the North Koreans which has been going on for so long with all of its negative effects.

Question            Deputy Minister Pahad, on the Zimbabwe-SADC report: which parts, if any, of the report will be made public? Can you confirm for us if the report at all mentions that the limited sanctions imposed by the British government on Zimbabwe is hampering progress towards a solution?

 Answer               South Africa was mandated by the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, hence our expectation that both reports will be presented to the Troika of the Organ following which the Organ will decide on how to proceed with handling this matter including tabling to the Summit and greater public access.

The challenge with a report of this type is that by its very nature, all parties did agree that to allow the mediation attempts to succeed we should avoid discussing this matter through the media.

If Troika and subsequently Summit decides differently then that is altogether a different matter.

The Executive Secretary is expected to report on the economic situation and the impact of sanctions on the situation. The reality is that there is a serious economic crisis and we have to stop looking at what caused it and rather what can to done to address this.

However the reality is also that you cannot have economic progress if you do not deal with the political challenges.

As President Mbeki said when addressing the media after the Cabinet Legkotla in July this year, it's important that when elections take place in 2008 that the results should not be contested. “In other words you must have elections in Zimbabwe that are free and fair, and therefore produce a government that will be acceptable to all the people of Zimbabwe as a legitimate government emerging out of a democratic process. It is therefore necessary that everything is done to achieve that outcome.”

If the process moves politically, we will be able to solve the economic crisis.

Question            Deputy Minister Pahad, we have just learnt that there was a meeting between the Zimbabwe civil society and (inaudible). Are you able to comment on this? (inaudible)

 Answer               Foreign Affairs has not been part of the Facilitation process. We are not therefore privy to what all parties think the state of preparations are for elections. I expect that once the President presents his report to the Troika that we may be able to get a better understanding of what progress has been made and what obstacles remain.

I read of the meeting with the NGOs in the media. It might be better if you ask the Facilitator of the meeting Minister Mufamadi.

We as Foreign Affairs met with a senior delegation of international NGOs from Civicus to get a report of their visit to Zimbabwe a few months ago and their recommendations.

We are interacting at various levels with anyone who can assist us to make a contribution to finding a solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe.

I saw in the media the suggestion that these meetings were being held to fool SADC. I am not sure how this can be done. Our meeting with the Civicus was prepared six months ago – long before we were even given the mandate to facilitate in the process.

We interact at the levels of religious leaders, political formations, trade unions, private sector and through governmental structures.

Question            Deputy Minister Pahad, you say you met with the NGOs. What kind of picture did they paint of the situation in Zimbabwe?

 Answer               They reported on their visit which took place in December last year. They also gave us their recommendations on the way forward. Broadly speaking they spoke of the necessity to ensure that civil society is involved in any and all consultative processes, the need to have consultations and dialogue with everybody including the government and civil society, to ensure that the repressive laws identified (press laws, public attendance laws) must be looked at in order to ensure the conditions are created for free and fair elections.

They therefore gave us their own assessment and we agreed to keep in touch so that we could exchange more information to see how we could assist the processes. This is something we will continue to do on a regular basis.

Question            Deputy Minister Pahad, regarding the two South African’s kidnapped in Iraq: the last thing that was said by the government was a request to allow you to do your work. Do you have an update on this matter?

 Answer               The situation is that we are working and as you will appreciate we had to work very quietly through the companies that had recruited them.

They had guaranteed that we would make progress but the long and the short of it is that not much progress has been made. We are continuing, through the various channels to see whether we can bring about a solution to the matter.

Our biggest challenge is that we are not in touch with any of the groups that are involved in the violence so we do not have any access. Our Ambassador in Jordan where many Iraqis are gathered, is in touch with the Iraqis to raise the matter to see what we can do. Our Ambassador in Kuwait is also trying to signal to the Iraqis to see what the situation is. We are also in touch with other governments, the Coalition of the Willing, to see how they can assist us.

The reality is that not much is forthcoming.

 Question            Deputy Minister Pahad, the US Ambassador to the IAEA was in South Africa last week. He expressed concern that the Iranians would ask South Africa to vote against sanctions to buy time. South Africa supported the last UN Security Council resolution against Iran. Have we decided on how we will vote this time?

 Answer               The reports we have been given is that the talks between the P5+1 and Larijani and the Larijani-Solana talks are continuing.

All reports indicate that at the moment, there is no draft resolution against Iran circulating in the Security Council.

The recent reported progress in the discussions between the Iranians and the IAEA and increased opening up of inspections to IAEA delegations are seen as signals of the Iranian commitment to deal with the last outstanding issues raised by the IAEA. If this is the situation, then we will all be happy that confidence can be restored that Iran does not an agenda to move towards a nuclear weapons capability. Everyone is trying to further support these positive steps.

South Africa is, through the IAEA, trying to support these positive steps.

Question            Deputy Minister Pahad, could you please confirm for me: are you saying categorically that you have no knowledge of anything in the President’s report that reflects what has been said by the DA or in media reports?

 Answer               I categorically deny that there has ever been such a report from the President because he would do such a report by himself. I can categorically deny such an element in his report.

Indeed, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs said yesterday: the report will only be tabled to the Troika today so we are speculating on something that no one can confirm.

Question            Deputy Minister Pahad, regarding the SADC-Zimbabwe report – will an investigation be launched into the source of these reports?

 Answer               I think the Presidency has issued a statement confirming what I have just said – we are not aware of such a report.

This is why we continually ask that if the media hears of such reports – even if they are leaked – that we should be approached for a comment.

It is very worrying that following these reports appeared in domestic and international media.

The statement by the Opposition spokesman on Foreign Affairs Mr Tony Leon, goes over the top in saying that we are making excuses and protecting Zimbabwe.

It is worrying that Opposition spokesman on Foreign Affairs should make statements based on leaked reports when the information has not been verified and this is a bit irresponsible. Our doors are open – we hosted the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee last week and had extensive discussions with them on all issues. We have agreed to work with them and to brief the opposition parties in confidence on all issues that we would not necessarily make public. I would have hoped that the DA would have called us to confirm whether this report was indeed leaked from the Presidents office.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

15 August 2007


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