Notes Following Media Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad Media Centre, Amphitheatre, Union Buildings Sunday 4 November 2007
President Thato Mbeki to Host Sudanese Counterpart
South African President Thabo Mbeki will from Tuesday 6 November to Wednesday 7 November 2007 host his Sudanese counterpart President Omer Hassan Ahmed El Bashir for discussions on the peace efforts in the Sudan and bilateral political, economic and trade issues at Tuynhuys in Cape Town.
Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, in announcing the visit by President El Bashir said, “President El Bashir will pay a working visit to South Africa scheduled from Monday – Wednesday 5-7 November 2007 within the context of South Africa’s support for peace efforts in the Sudan and our priority to consolidate bilateral political, economic and trade relations with Sudan.”
In this regard, Presidents Mbeki and El Bashir will hold discussions on the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the impact of the decision by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) to suspend its participation in the Sudan Government of National Unity (GNU). It is clear that it will be disastrous if Sudan degenerates into another wave of violence
“In addition, South Africa is the Chair of the African Union Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development Committee and discussions will focus on post-conflict reconstruction and development in the Sudan, the Darfur Peace Talks in Libya as well as progress towards the deployment of the United Nations – African Union hybrid force for Darfur.
Minister Dlamini Zuma welcomed the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1784 (2007) on Wednesday 31 October 2007 which extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) for six months until 30 April 2008.” “Minister Dlamini Zuma also welcomed the commitment from the members of the UN Security Council to extend the Mission for further periods after an assessment, requested from the Secretary-General on whether any changes were needed in the UNMIS mandate to strengthen the Mission’s ability to facilitate full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.”
Minister Dlamini Zuma reiterated the call by the UN Security Council to donors to, “support disarmament, demobilization and reintegration initiatives, along with the Joint Integrated Units that were meant to include both Government troops and those of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, in order to help reduce tensions.”
“Accordingly, discussions between Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Omer El Bashir on Tuesday 6 November 2007 are expected to include, among others:
• The implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement;
• The situation in Darfur and progress towards the operationalisation of the UN-AU Hybrid Force;
• Developments in the Libya peace process; and
• The status of bilateral political, economic and trade relations between the two countries
This is a very important meeting coming at a crucial time. President El-Bashir will also hold discussions with the private sector and will visit Robben Island while in South Africa.
President El-Bashir will be accompanied by a senior Sudanese government delegation including at least five ministers.
“President El-Bashir will depart from South Africa on Wednesday 7 November 2007,” concluded Minister Dlamini Zuma.
Minister Dlamini Zuma to Host Slovakian Counterpart
South African Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma will on Wednesday 7 November 2007 host her Slovakian counterpart Foreign Minister Ján Kubiŝ for bilateral political, economic and trade discussions at the Table Bay Hotel in Seapoint, Cape Town.
Ministers Dlamini Zuma and Ján Kubiŝ will also co-host an International Workshop on Security Sector Reform (SSR) under the banner, “Enhancing United Nations Support for SSR in Africa: Towards and African Perspective”, scheduled from Wednesday – Thursday 7 – 8 November at the La Vendome Hotel in Seapoint.
Africa increasingly plays a key role in conflict resolution particularly in Africa but also elsewhere in the world. A key element of post conflict consolidation and reconstruction is security sector reform.
This visit will be hosted by Minister Dlamini Zuma within the context of South Africa’s priority to strengthen bilateral political, economic and trade relations with Slovakia as well as to review the status of Security Sector Reform for Africa.
Slovakia is one of the newer members of the European Union and this meeting will therefore provide an opportunity to review how South Africa can expand its relations with the newer members of the European Union. South Africa’s relations with the European Union (with what is called the old membership of the European Union) is very good at all levels and we now have an opportunity to expand relations amongst the new membership of the Union.
Issues on the agenda of discussions between Ministers Dlamini Zuma and Ján Kubiŝ on Wednesday 7 November 2007 are expected to include, among others:
• The status and promotion of bilateral political, economic and trade relations between both countries;
• A briefing by Minister Kubiŝ on developments within the European Union;
• A briefing by Minister Dlamini Zuma on developments within SADC and the Africa Union;
• Conflict Resolution and Post-Conflict Reconstruction in Africa;
• The comprehensive reform of the United Nations; and
• Other international issues of mutual concern including the Middle East Peace Process.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Bilateral economic relations should be prioritised with the aim of increasing trade and investment. The two countries are working together to identified areas to compliment each other in the economic field and new sectors such as aircraft and automotive industries have been identified.
Slovakia will host the 2nd Session of the Joint Council for Economic Consultations in Bratislava in 2007.
Trade between South Africa and Slovakia has grown steadily over the years.
The turnover from 2003 to 2006 was US$113.165 million. The percentage increase in trade for the years mentioned rose by 358.7 from Slovakia. The trade balance was US$72.653, in favour of Slovakia.
In the year 2005 – 2006, Slovakia traded with a surplus of US$ 29.045 million which illustrate the seriousness with which Slovakia is making in roads in the South African trade competitiveness.
Imports from South Africa for the period 2006, amounted to US$22.309 million and consisted mainly of the following commodities: edible fruit and nuts; mineral fuel, mineral oils and products of their distillations; vehicles and vehicle parts, iron and steel; salt, sulphur and plastering material; wool and fine or coarse hair and electrical machinery.
The value of total trade between South Africa and Slovakia amounted to US$92 909 million:
Trade between Slovakia and South Africa for the period 2003 - 2006
Year 2003 2004 2005 2006
(South Africa/US$ '000 000)
(South Africa/US$'000 000)
Workshop on Security Sector Reform
The International workshop will focus on initiating a process through which security sector debate in all its aspects is promoted in Africa. This in turn will allow Africa to make a contribution towards developing a common concept on SSR for the UN. The international workshop, therefore, will serve the twin purposes of promoting dialogue on security sector reform in all its aspects in support of Common African Peace and Security agenda also allowing for the sharing of African experiences in SSR to assist in defining roles that the UN could and should play in support of these initiatives.
In particular, the international workshop aims at initiating a debate in Africa on all aspects of the security sector governance required to enhance the African Peace and Security Agenda. The workshop will also focus on the needs, concerns and perspectives of African countries that are already engaged with the UN in SSR activities on the ground with a view to exchange information and improve support to the operations.
The workshop will provide a unique opportunity for an exchange of views and experiences between policy makers and practitioners from and between African countries on the one hand, and regional and international organisations as well as from donor countries on the other.
This dialogue will provide an entry-point for articulating a common African agenda for SSR, allowing in the future for more compatibility between the international community and Africa in general, and between Africa and the UN in particular, in support of security sector initiatives in the continent. It is envisaged that the outcome of the workshop will provide valuable input into the continuing dialogue of the UN on SSR as well as into the discussions of the African Union Summit in 2008.
Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to Co-Host 5th South Africa – Cuba Joint Bilateral Commission
South African Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma will together with her Cuban counterpart Foreign Minister Lomas Morales co-chair the 5th session of the South Africa – Cuba Joint Bilateral Commission scheduled from Thursday – Friday 8-9 November 2007 at the Arabella Sheraton Hotel in Cape Town.
Minister Dlamini Zuma said, “I will co-chair the 5th session of the South Africa – Cuba Joint Bilateral Commission within the context of South Africa’s priority to consolidate and strengthen the bilateral political and economic relations between South Africa and Cuba.”
Cuba is in a very important phase with it being the chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). There is also a lot of speculation regarding what will happen in a post President Fidel Castro Cuba. This will be an opportunity for South Africa to receive an assessment from the Cubans regarding developments in Cuba as well as in Latin America as a whole. There have been important developments in Latin America and this 5th session of the JBC will be focused on receiving an understanding of these developments.
The 5th session of the JBC also comes on the eve of the African Diaspora Ministerial Conference so we also expect that this will be high on the agenda of discussions.
“The 5th session of the JBC will further serve to:
• Promote South Africa as a principled and reliable partner within the framework of the Joint Bilateral Commission for Economic, Scientific, Technical and Commercial Co-operation between the two countries;
• Review progress made in the areas of co-operation as identified within the framework of the JBC and to investigate areas of future co-operation between the two countries;
• Monitor, through co-operation within the framework of the JBC, Cuba’s assistance to South Africa in addressing its skills shortages and human resource challenges.”
“The JBC is an overarching umbrella in South Africa – Cuba relations and this session of the JBC will also evaluate progress of the:
- Trade, investment and finance;
- Minin and energy;
- Water Affairs;
- Sport and recreation;
- Arts and Culture;
- Science and Technology;
- Social development;
- Transport; and
- Environmental Affairs working groups.
“Minister Morales will depart from South Africa on Saturday 10 November 2007,” concluded Minister Morales.
SADC Extraordinary Council of Ministers Meeting
As you are aware the Grand Debate on African integration in Ghana earlier this year, the majority of countries believed that we should move in this direction but that we should have building blocks in place. In this regard, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), in the case of South Africa – SADC, should be the building block of the region.
On Wednesday – Thursday 7-8 November 2007 the Task Team on Integration, set up by the Summit and including Ministers of Finance and Economics will be held in Lusaka, Zambia. Minister Trevor Manual will lead the South African delegation to this meeting.
This is a very important meeting because clearly Cabinet has decided we must place special emphasis on the SADC integration process. We want to be serious towards moving towards an African Government at the appropriate time. We have to ensure that SADC does become a very effective and efficient bloc that can achieve integration at a pace that is welcomed by all.
I will depart for Lusaka on Thursday 8 November 2007 to head the South African delegation to the SADC Extraordinary Council of Ministers Meeting which will take place on Friday 9 November 2007.
The Extraordinary Summit of 2006 mandated this Ministerial Task Force and the Executive Secretary to urgently review the Secretariat Structure, staffing and financing and align them to the new priorities, with a view to accelerating the implementation of the regional economic integration agenda.
It approved certain re-prioritised programmes for regional integration and this includes
• Trade and Economic liberalisation and development including:
o Free movement of goods, services and factors of production;
o Stability orientated macroeconomic convergence;
o Financial market integration and monetary co-operation;
o Intra-regional investment and foreign direct investment; and
o Productive competitiveness and supply side capacity;
• Infrastructure in support of regional integration;
• Peace and security co-operation; and
• Special programmes of regional dimension under Education and Human Resource Development, Health, HIV and Aids and other Communicable Diseases, Food Security and Transboundary Natural Resources, Statistics, Gender Equality, and Science, Technology and Innovation and Research and Development.
The meeting in which Minister Manual will participate will try to give substance to the issues of trade and economic liberalisation and movement.
The Extraordinary Council of Ministers meeting in which I will participate will look at SADC structures and whether they are sufficiently equipped to deal with the challenges the Ministers of Finance will deal with.
We will also look at:
• SADC institutional structures and whether any changes are required;
• Secretariat management structure;
• Grading and renumeration;
• Performance management and appraisal system; and
• Financial implications.
It is going to be a very important meeting for SADC. We hope the Ministers meeting on Integration will lay a solid foundation for the Extraordinary Council of Ministers meeting to look at structural issues to make us an effective bloc.
Darfur Peace Talks
As you are aware, the Peace Talks in Sirte Libya started on 27 October 2007. We do believe this was an important turning point in attempts to find a political solution because this was the first time that many of the parties who are signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement of 2006 signed in Abuja are meeting face-to-face and it allows the delegations to really begin to tackle the challenges they face in Darfur.
As I said in my last briefing, it is regrettable that leaders of some of the movements did not attend the opening session and once again, it is our view that in line with the Security Council Resolution and other statements issued by the EU and other leading countries, any party from government, the rebel movements or forces outside of Africa who are hindering the process of finding a peaceful solution should suffer the consequences of their actions.
We are very keen that movement must be achieved on the Darfur peace process with particular reference to the humanitarian tragedy, increasing violence and indeed, increasing instability in the region and impact on the implementation of the broader Sudanese peace agreement.
I do believe that some progress has been made in this first meeting and the government has now formally declared a ceasefire and cessation of hostilities. I believe it is important for all other parties to make a similar commitment without any further delay. This will go towards creating a better climate.
Stage 2 of the talks will involve more intense and detailed discussions and substantial issues that will be discussed in the third stage of the discussions.
It is therefore vital, I believe, that countries who have influence over the parties not participating in the talks, encourage them to do so.
Both the UN and AU will begin to prepare for the second and third phases of the discussions.
I do hope that those who have not participated thus far will participate in future.
UN Security Council Extends UNMIS Mandate
The Security Council on Wednesday 31 October 2007 voted to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sudan by six months, urging all parties to fully put into the practice the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) ending a 21-year civil war between north and south Sudan.
In a resolution passed unanimously, the 15-member body underscored the “importance of full and expeditious implementation of all elements of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.”
Successfully implementing the CPA is key to resolving the crisis in Darfur and to consolidating sustainable peace and stability in the region, the Council noted.
To this end, it urged the full deployment in Darfur of the hybrid UN-African Union (AU) peacekeeping force, set to become the world’s largest, as well as the protection of aid workers.
The Council also called for the sides to take measures to defuse tensions in the disputed Abyei region and to allow UNMIS unrestricted access to conduct monitoring and verification exercises in the region.
The full text of resolution 1784 (2007) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Recalling all its resolutions and presidential statements concerning the situation in the Sudan,
“Recalling also its previous resolutions 1674 (2006) on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, which reaffirms, inter alia, the relevant provisions of the United Nations World Summit Outcome document, 1612 (2005) of 26 July 2005 on children in armed conflict, 1502 (2003) on the protection of humanitarian and United Nations personnel, 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security,
“Reaffirming its commitment to the sovereignty, unity, independence, and territorial integrity of the Sudan and to the cause of peace,
“Urging the parties to meet their outstanding commitments to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and noting in particular the delay in achieving the full and verified redeployment of forces by 9 July 2007 and urging such redeployment, and the need for further progress in the demarcation of the North-South border and the implementation of the resolution of the Abyei Conflict,
“Recalling the commitment of the international community to support the Comprehensive Peace Agreement process, including through development aid, and calling upon donors to support implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, including by putting in place the Oslo Conference pledges of 2005,
“Urging the Government of National Unity to take all necessary steps to prepare for the conduct of free and fair elections, including by committing its share of necessary resources for the conduct of a national census, and further urges the international community to provide technical and material assistance for electoral preparations, including for the national census,
“Welcoming the continuing organized returns of internally displaced persons from Khartoum to Southern Kordofan and Southern Sudan and that of refugees from countries of asylum to Southern Sudan and encouraging the promotion of efforts, including the provision of necessary resources to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and implementing partners, to ensure that such returns are sustainable,
“Commending the work of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (“UNMIS”) in support of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and commending the continued commitment by troop-contributing countries in support of this mission,
“Welcoming the Secretary-General’s appointment of Ashraf Qazi as his special representative for UNMIS and of Ameera Haq as his deputy special representative for humanitarian coordination,
“Reiterating its concern over the restrictions and all the impediments placed on the movements of UNMIS personnel and materiel, and the adverse impact such restrictions and impediments have on UNMIS ability to perform its mandate effectively and on the ability of the humanitarian community to reach affected persons; and calling upon all the parties to abide by its international obligations in this regard, as well as those set out in the Status of Forces Agreement,
“Commending UNMIS efforts in Darfur and its facilitation of United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur’s (UNAMID) assumption of responsibility for peacekeeping in Darfur,
“Recognizing that successful implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is [essential] to resolution of the crisis in Darfur and to sustainable peace and stability in the region; condemning the acts of violence perpetrated by all sides: and calling for the rapid deployment of the United Nations Light and Heavy Support Packages for the African Union Mission in Sudan, the full deployment of UNAMID and the protection of humanitarian workers,
“Taking note of the reports of the Secretary-General on Sudan dated 23 October 2007 (S/2007/624) and on children and armed conflict in the Sudan dated 29 August 2007 (S/2007/520), and the report of the Security Council following its June 2007 mission to the Sudan,
“Determining that the situation in the Sudan continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security,
“1. Decides to extend the mandate of UNMIS until 30 April 2008, with the intention to renew it for further periods;
“2. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council every three months on the implementation of the mandate of UNMIS, progress on implementation of the CPA, and respect for the ceasefire;
“3. Stresses the importance of full and expeditious implementation of all elements of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the N’djamena Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement, the Darfur Peace Agreement, and the October 2006 Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement, calls for all the parties to respect their commitments to these agreements without delay;
“4. Stresses the critical role of the Assessment and Evaluation Commission in overseeing and reporting on implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and calls for the strengthening of the Commission’s autonomy and looks forward to the production of the interim report and recommendations of the Commission in January 2008.
“5. Calls for all parties to agree immediately to full unrestricted UNMIS monitoring and verification in the Abyei region, without prejudice to the final agreement on the actual borders between the two sides;
“6. Urges UNMIS to continue its efforts consistent with its mandate to assess progress in redeployment of forces, in particular in the areas of Unity, Upper Nile, South Kordofan, Abyei, and Blue Nile, and to reinforce its ability to assist the parties in reducing tension in areas of potential conflict between them and further urges the parties immediately to speed up efforts towards the completion of redeployment of forces;
“7. Calls on the parties to take steps to reduce tensions in the Abyei region, including by redeploying their forces away from the disputed 1 January 1956 border and by implementing an Interim Administration and agreeing upon boundaries, and expresses support for UNMIS, consistent with its mandate and in accordance with the CPA, to assist the parties in monitoring such arrangements as they may make in this regard, including by deploying UNMIS personnel to areas from which forces may be withdrawn;
“8. Recalls UNMIS mandate to liaise with bilateral donors on the formation of Joint Integrated Units (“JIU”), requests UNMIS to come up with a plan of support with the Joint Defence Board and further urges donors to offer support, via UNMIS, to enable the full establishment of JIUs as soon as possible and further urges UNMIS to assist in voluntary disarmament and weapons collection and destruction efforts in implementation of plans under the CPA for disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration;
“9. Urges UNMIS, consistent with its mandate and in coordination with the relevant parties, to increase its support for the National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Coordination Council and the Northern and Southern DDR Commissions and further urges donors to respond to calls for assistance from the joint United Nations DDR Unit;
“10. Recalls UNMIS mandate to provide guidance and technical assistance to support the preparations for the conduct of elections and referenda provided for by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and urges UNMIS to continue its efforts in this regard, including by providing technical and logistical support to the national census, and in coordination with the Government of National Unity and with other relevant United Nations offices;
“11. Calls for UNMIS to support reconciliation in all its aspects, emphasizing the role of women and civil society and to work with UNDP and other agencies;
“12. Calls upon the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the communiqué, signed between the United Nations and the Government of National Unity in Khartoum on 28 March 2007 to support, protect, and facilitate all humanitarian operations in the Sudan;
“13. Recalls UNMIS role in facilitating the deployment of the United Nations Light and Heavy Support Packages for AMIS, and calls upon the Government of National Unity and all other parties to cooperate fully with this deployment, and with the deployment of all components of UNAMID;
“14. Calls upon the Government of National Unity to cooperate fully with all United Nations operations within its territory in the implementation of their mandates;
“15. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to take the necessary measures to ensure full compliance in UNMIS with the United Nations zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to keep the Council informed, and urges troop-contributing countries to take appropriate preventive action including predeployment awareness training, and other action to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel;
“16. Expresses its readiness to consider a general review of the mandate of UNMIS, and in that connection, requests the Secretary-General, in his next three-month report to the Council, to include:
(a) An assessment of progress in implementation of plans under the CPA for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and to set out the key points of a strategy for achieving further progress, including benchmarks against which such progress can be measured and, specifically, the role of UNMIS at the various stages of implementation; and
(b) An assessment of whether any changes to UNMIS mandate may be needed to strengthen its ability to facilitate implementation of the CPA;
“17. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”
UN Hybrid Force Begins Operations
The United Nations African Union hybrid peacekeeping operation for Darfur (UNAMID) on Wednesday 31 October 2007 began operations at its El Fasher Headquarters in what the senior UN official there called a milestone for the strife-torn Sudanese region.
We will discuss this further with President El-Bashir to evaluate how South Africa can further contribute to the process. It is known that South Africa has been asked to increase its troop contribution and the Department of Defence is looking at this matter. It is likely we will increase our support for the UNAMID.
“It is a great day for the United Nations and the African Union, the day of UNAMID's launch, which was only an idea three months ago but now it is a profound reality,” said Rodolphe Adada, the UN-AU Joint Special Representative for Darfur.
“I am pleased to say that with the cooperation of the Government of Sudan, we are one more step closer to embark on our peacekeeping mandate for the people of Darfur,” he declared.
But Mr. Adada cautioned that more support is needed, saying UNAMID is “facing a lack of pledges for specialized units in areas such as aviation and land transport that should be arriving in Darfur as part of the heavy support package” to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), which has been on the ground in Darfur since 2004.
The South African government calls on the international community to increase its support for the UNAMID in this regard.
The UN and AU are currently conducting pre-deployment visits to some of the troop contributing countries to inspect the uniformed personnel and their equipment, according to the envoy.
“I have all the confidence that the remaining steps towards the final assumption of authority by UNAMID will be concluded before the end of this year so that we can start implementing our mandate in 2008 in full gear,” he said.
Darfur Remains region where gross human rights violations are perpetrated by all parties, Rapporteur tells third committee
Political solutions were urgently needed to resolve the conflict in Darfur, where there could be no military solution, Sima Samar, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan, said Wednesday 31 October 2007 as the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) continued its discussion of human rights issues.
In a statement based on her fourth visit to the Sudan as Special Rapporteur, from 25 July to 2 August, Ms. Samar said that the protection of human rights in the Sudan “continues to be an enormous challenge”. And while there had been some “slow progress”, many of the concerns highlighted in her latest report were unchanged from last year.
“Darfur remains a region where gross violations of human rights are perpetrated by all parties,” she said. “Arbitrary arrest, torture, illegal taxation, extortion, forced displacement, killing and sexual violence continue.” While welcoming the adoption of Security Council resolution 1769 (2007), which authorized the deployment of a United Nations-African Union hybrid force in Darfur, she underscored that the State had primary responsibility for the protection of civilians, highlighting that its actions in that regard had been “insufficient”.
In her statement, which ended with a list of recommendations for all parties involved in the Sudan, including the United Nations and the international community, Ms. Samar referred to the situation in other parts of the country as well, noting for instance that “poor implementation” had hampered the Comprehensive Peace Agreement covering the south of the country. She also referred to human rights violations by security forces that had been documented in Khartoum, Darfur, the north and the south.
Responding to her statement, the representative of the Sudan said his Government had been cooperating with numerous human rights institutions. He listed a number of legal developments that guaranteed all human rights to all citizens, stating that, since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, there had been immense positive transformations for peacebuilding, as well as maintaining basic rights. Turning to Darfur, he said there was greater voluntary return, with thousands of internally displaced persons returning to the area. He concluded by asserting that the Special Rapporteur had been the hostage of misleading information.
The South African government remains concerned about this situation.
As you know, the Prime Minister Gedi has resigned.
The South African government reiterates its call for a political solution. We do not believe a military solution is possible. We call on the TFG to increase its interaction with all Somalian parties so that a peaceful, long lasting solution can be found.
The situation is not very optimistic at the moment. South Africa will, through the AU Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council, determine what we can do to assist this process.
The security situation in Mogadishu, which the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has called the worst in months, has caused some 36,000 more residents to flee their homes this weekend.
“But as large numbers of people packed their belongings to leave Mogadishu, some families told UNHCR staff that they felt lost not knowing whether to stay in their homes, relocate to another part of the city, or leave the city altogether,” she added.
The bulk of the internally displaced are fleeing to the town of Afgooye, where some 100,000 people have found temporary shelter and continue to be assisted by UNHCR.
The fighting over the past weekend is the latest upswing in violence among the TFG and other parties in the Horn of Africa nation, which has had no functioning central government since Muhammad Siad Barre’s regime was toppled in 1991.
Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro has warned that the protracted crisis and State failure in Somalia presents a challenge, not only to Somalis, but to the UN and the international community at large.
“The prolonged suffering of the population must push us to more effectively address the Somali crisis,” Ms. Migiro said in an address to the opening of the third annual UN Advocacy Week of the World Council of Churches, which is focusing on the Horn of Africa during its meetings this week in New York.
Ms. Migiro stressed that the Council’s focus on the sub-region is “fitting and timely,” given that the Horn of Africa is where two of the UN’s biggest security and humanitarian challenges are currently unfolding – Darfur and Somalia.
“In both places, conflicts continue to cause widespread suffering, abuse and displacement for millions of people – primarily women and children. And they have taken an unacceptable toll on people’s lives and livelihoods for far too long,” she stated, adding that the UN has been working to help the Somalis find a lasting political solution.
Open Letter from the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia a.i. in response to the massive displacement of civilians from Moqadishu (Thursday 1 November 2007)
Over the past year, the Somali people have continuously been caught in the middle of the on-going conflict. I applaud the spirit of the people who have assisted each other in these times of crisis, but remain troubled that even those with such resilience can only cope for so long. I am alarmed by the fighting during the past week in Mogadishu and the subsequent impact on the general population.
This comes at a time when the country is facing one of the worst humanitarian situations in years.
The fighting in the capital this past weekend was the worst since April. Far too many people have been caught in the cross fire with over 100 people admitted to hospitals for weapons-related injuries in just two days, adding to the more than 3,400 war-wounded civilians since January. Entire districts have been emptied of inhabitants forcing people from their homes with little or no supplies for daily survival.
Indiscriminate use of force by all parties, reports of house-to-house e arches and large-scale detentions have created a climate of fear amongst the population not witnessed before.
Current reports indicate t hat at least 88,000 persons fled Mogadishu in the three-day period from 27-29 October, a sharp increase from the 20,000-25,000 persons who have been steadily streaming out of the capitol every month since June. Ln addition to the tenuous security situation created by the conflict, statements by various authorities ordering inhabitants to leave certain districts have created panic. Moreover, many of those who have fled are seeking protection in the very locations where one hundred thousand people recently displaced have sought shelter and assistance.
There are now roughly 450,000 people who have been displaced by fighting this year, bringing the total number of displaced persons in Somalia to more than 800,000.
These events are occurring in a dramatically deteriorated humanitarian context in which more than 1.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection.
I am also very concerned for the safety and well-being of those remaining in Mogadishu, given the overall insecurity and lack of access and freedom of movement in the city. With Bakara market completely closed following this weekend’s fighting, many inhabitants ordinary livelihoods have been disrupted and their access to basic necessities and services is shrinking.
We are working with many of you to ensure that life saving aid reaches those in need.
However, much more needs to be done. At the same time as needs are increasing organisations trying to assist them are facing increasing challenges. Whether prevented from doing distributions because of insecurity or halted from movement because of check points or ad hoc ‘taxation’, humanitarian organisations are not able reach all persons in need. Alternative ways together with the communities are being explored but increased access is vital to meet all the needs.
Despite previous calls to address some of the concerns above, much remains to be done and it is high time for representatives of all parties involved to do everything in your power to minimize the suffering of the civilians and facilitate humanitarian access. I am therefore appealing to you to ensure the following:
• The respect of all parties, including the Ethiopian forces, for international humanitarian law, especially the distinction between civilians and combatants at times of armed conflict and the non-targeting of predominantly civilian structures;
• Fulfil the authorities’ obligations to protect all citizens and ensure timely, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian organisations to reach those in need of life-saving assistance. In this regard, I urge you all to issue the necessary instructions to armed elements through public statements;
• Halt further forced displacement or threats of it;
• Guarantee the safety of all humanitarian staff and assets, including the unhindered and protected access to and transportation of relief items;
• Ensure respect for the core principles guiding humanitarian action, namely humanity, impartiality and neutrality. This means facilitating access to civilians in need, wherever and whoever they are;
Somalia cannot be allowed to slide into a deeper humanitarian crisis. I therefore call on all parties to meet their obligations to ensure assistance and protection is provided to citizens. We all owe this to the Somali people, who have suffered far too much and far too long already.
UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia
About 10,000 children are severely malnourished and at risk of death in the Lower and Middle Shabelle regions of Somalia as food prices experienced a sharp increase and the ongoing conflict hindered access to those affected, early warning agencies said.
The rapidly worsening humanitarian situation was due to the cumulative effects of conflict, insecurity and civilian displacement affecting over 600,000 people, the Food Security Analysis Unit for Somalia (FAO/FSAU) and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net) said in a joint statement issued on 31 October.
The latest nutrition surveys conducted by FSAU in the Shabelles confirmed global acute malnutrition rates of 17 percent and severe acute malnutrition rates of 4.8 percent - above the UN World Health Organization emergency threshold of 15%.
"Approximately 38,000 children under the age of five years in the rural population are estimated to be acutely malnourished, with 10,000 estimated to be severely malnourished and at risk of death if they do not receive the appropriate care," the statement warned, adding that poor water and sanitation conditions, limited health services, increased food sharing and reduced food access were to blame.
Food prices have risen above the reach of most of the displaced after the lowest cereal production in 13 years, trade disruptions, inflation and the rapid devaluation of the Somali shilling.
"In the three main market towns of Jowhar [Middle], Afgoi, and Merka [Lower] in the Shabelle regions, current October prices compared to the five-year average are between 235-255 percent [higher] for imported rice, 165-210 percent for local maize, and 200-210 percent for vegetable oil," said the statement.
Renewed fighting in Mogadishu further disrupted economic activities - reducing livelihood options and increasing humanitarian needs.
Christian Balslev-Olesen, the acting UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, has called for all parties in the conflict to minimise the suffering of the civilians and facilitate humanitarian access.
The appeal, in an open letter, was in response to the latest upsurge in violence in the capital, which, according to the UN Refugee Agency, left 90,000 people displaced.
"All parties including the Ethiopian forces must respect international humanitarian law," he said, "especially the distinction between civilians and combatants at times of armed conflict and the non-targeting of predominantly civilian structures."
Calling for a stop to further displacement and threats, he urged the parties to guarantee the safety of aid workers and their assets.
Democratic Republic of Congo
The situation in the eastern part remains volatile.
The South African government welcomes that the Secretary-General will dispatch Haile Menkerios, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, on a special mission to the region.
Mr. Menkerios will consult with the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and other leaders in the region, as well as the DRC's bilateral and multilateral partners, to find ways to resolve the immediate crisis and to address its underlying causes. In carrying out his mission, Mr. Menkerios will coordinate closely with the Secretary-General's Special Representative for the DRC and with international partners currently engaged in initiatives to help resolve the crisis.
I will tomorrow Monday 5 November 2007 hold discussions with the EU Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region regarding what the international community can do to ensure the situation in the east is stabilised and that the overall peace process is not jeopardised.
South Africa will continue to interact with all countries of the region – Rwanda, Uganda, Angola – to see what else can be done to stabilise this region. It is clear that without us stabilising this region, the peace process in the rest of the DRC is being endangered.
As you know, the Facilitator has been visiting the region. He has met the leaders of the Regional Initiative, ie. the Presidents of Tanzania and Uganda and presented a report of the challenges being experienced in trying to get the Paliphehutu-FNL to begin discussions on finalising what was agreed to a year ago.
The problem is now that the Paliphehutu-FNL is split into those who want to continue with the negotiations and those who do not want to. This is creating all sorts of difficulties.
We have not yet heard whether the regional leaders – ie. Tanzania and Uganda – have finalised a date for the Regional Summit that will discuss the way forward.
I had previously briefed you that the government and opposition had agreed to an amendment Known as the Constitutional Amendment Bill #18. I believe this is an important step that will help facilitate the way forward for free and fair elections to be held in 2008.
The Bill that combines the presidential, parliamentary and council elections in Zimbabwe next year, and allows Robert Mugabe to pick a successor should he retire mid-term, has finally been signed into law.
A government gazette has announced that the constitutional changes stipulated in the Bill came into effect on Tuesday 30 October 2007.
Known as the Constitutional Amendment Bill #18, this legislation is a compromise deal that resulted from the ongoing mediated talks between Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party and both factions of the opposition MDC.
Mugabe gave up his power to appoint members to parliament's lower house, which was increased from 150 members to 210. The number of Senators in the upper house was also increased from 84 to 93. And Parliament was bestowed the power to elect a new leader, should the incumbent not be able to complete the term.
The MDC had insisted on a whole new constitution ahead of any elections, but settled for the changes instead.
The Security Council on Wednesday 31 October 2007 extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for six months, until 30 April 2008.
In the unanimously adopted resolution 1783 (2007), the Council, taking note of the two rounds of negotiations held under the auspices of the Secretary-General and welcoming progress made by the parties to enter into direct negotiations, called upon the parties to continue those negotiations without preconditions and in good faith with a view to achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which would provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations.
The Council invited Member States to lend appropriate assistance to the talks, and called on them to consider voluntary contributions to fund confidence-building measures that would allow for increased contact between separated family members, as well as for other such measures that might be agreed between the parties.
Before the vote, the representative of South Africa expressed his disappointment that the resolution made no mention of human rights violations in Western Sahara, despite the Secretary-General’s call on the parties to remain engaged in a constructive dialogue with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, with a view to ensuring respect for the human rights of the Western Saharan people. The Council, which was very vocal about human rights violations in other parts of the world, had decided to remain silent in the case of the Western Sahara. That “double standard” meant the Council decisions were often not taken seriously.
South Africa’s representative also expressed surprise that the “relentless attempts” to describe the Moroccan proposal as a “serious and credible effort to move the process forward towards resolution”. That proposal, however, was nothing more than a unilateral attempt to prevent the Saharan people from exercising their right to self-determination. He emphasized that there were two plans, one from Morocco and one from the Frente Polisario. Any attempt to praise one proposal over the other would undermine negotiations. Nevertheless, he would vote in favour of the resolution in the hope that one day the Saharan people could achieve their right to self determination. That might be the only way not only to decide about their future, but to protect their human rights.
The full text of resolution 1783 (2007) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Recalling all its previous resolutions on Western Sahara,
“Reaffirming its strong support for the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy,
“Reaffirming its commitment to assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and noting the role and responsibilities of the parties in this respect,
“Reiterating its call upon the parties and States of the region to continue to cooperate fully with the United Nations and with each other to end the current impasse and to achieve progress towards a political solution,
“Taking note of the Moroccan proposal presented on 11 April 2007 to the Secretary-General and welcoming serious and credible Moroccan efforts to move the process forward towards resolution; also taking note of the Polisario Front proposal presented 10 April 2007 to the Secretary-General,
“Taking note of the two rounds of negotiations held under the auspices of the Secretary-General; welcoming the progress made by the parties to enter into direct negotiations,
“Taking note that the parties have agreed to continue the process of negotiations through United Nations sponsored talks,
“Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 19 October 2007 (S/2007/619),
“1. Reaffirms the need for full respect of the military agreements reached with MINURSO with regard to the ceasefire;
“2. Calls upon the parties to continue to show political will and work in an atmosphere propitious for dialogue in order to engage in substantive negotiations, thus ensuring implementation of resolution 1754 and the success of negotiations;
“3. Calls upon the parties to continue negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General without preconditions and in good faith, taking into account the efforts made since 2006 and developments of the last months, with a view to achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in the context of arrangements consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations, and noting the role and responsibilities of the parties in this respect;
“4. Invites Member States to lend appropriate assistance to these talks;
“5. Requests the Secretary-General to provide a report by 31 January 2008 on the status and progress of these negotiations under his auspices, and expresses its intention to meet to receive and discuss this report;
“6. Requests the Secretary-General to provide a report on the situation in Western Sahara well before the end of the mandate period;
“7. Calls on Member States to consider voluntary contributions to fund Confidence Building Measures that allow for increased contact between separated family members, especially family unification visits, as well as for other confidence building measures that may be agreed between the parties;
“8. Decides to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 April 2008;
“9. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to take the necessary measures to ensure full compliance in MINURSO with the United Nations zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to keep the Council informed, and urges troop-contributing countries to take appropriate preventive action including predeployment awareness training, and other action to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel;
“10. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”
Let me express the concern of the South African government at developments in Pakistan including increasing violence.
As you know President Musharraf has now declared a state of emergency and suspended the constitution.
The South African government urges all parties to return to the rule of law and indeed, continue to make preparations for elections to be held early in 2008 as announced previously.
The South African government believes this is the only way with which to deal with extremism and that martial law will make the holding of elections impossible. It will also create the conditions for increased instability. We are also very concerned because this will increase tensions in the region.
Pakistan is indeed a nuclear power and in this state of volatility one must call on the authorities to ensure that this arsenal is very well attended so that it does not fall into the wrong hands.
The South African government is also very concerned at the tensions between Turkey and Iraq on the issue of the PKK based in Iraq.
We again support those who advocate for a political solution. Any military attack against PKK bases in Turkey will, I believe, only escalate the overall problem in the region and especially Iraq.
The South African government calls for caution to be exercised and on the Turkish authorities to continue with diplomatic efforts to deal with PKK attacks.
The South African government was very concerned that the expulsion of the UN Special Representative Mr Petri who has been in Myanmar for the last decade, co-incides with the arrival of the UN Special Advisor Ibrahim Gambari in Myanmar. This does not bode well.
The South African government will continue to support the efforts by the Special Envoy Gambari to ensure that the UN remains committed to bring about the necessary changes in Myanmar.
Mr Gambari has concluded a tour of the region – China, Thailand, Malaysia – and when he returns from Myanmar, it will be important to get a sense of the positions of these countries on the situation in Myanmar and what can be done.
The reports continue to reflect detentions and violence against protestors. It does not look like there is commitment to find a solution. The military government now has a special representative who is talking to detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Ki. This is an important development but much more remains to be done so that opposition leaders can be released and movement toward democracy created in Myanmar.
We will await the report of Mr Gambari.
US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is presently in the region to prepare for the Conference on the Middle East called for by US President Bush. It has been scheduled for 26 November but it is clear that there are many difficulties at the moment and this date will not be met.
It is our view that any Conference that does not have as a focal point to achieve real concrete steps forward in dealing with the final status problems will be a Conference that will be to the detriment of those who are seeking a long lasting solution.
Many countries in the region have already indicated they will not attend if they are not convinced that something substantial will emerge from the Conference.
Many analysts are now saying they doubt this conference will be able to take place because there is no movement towards getting these substantive positions.
We are very keen there is such a Conference that will look at finding a two-state solution because as the Under-Secretary General reports the situation is very serious in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The humanitarian tragedy is much more serious than it was two months ago. Rockets continue to be fired indiscriminately into Israeli territory and we are asking the Palestinians to address this.
We call on the Israeli government to not implement collective punishment as this will impact negatively on the achievement of a two-state solution.
We also call on all parties to stop extra-judicial killings that continue.
We call on the Palestinians to cease firing these rockets into Israeli territory as this does not contribute positively to the situation.
The South African government has been invited by the Palestinian government to be part of any Conference. We have not however been informed if the organisers agree to the Palestinian request.
Under-Secretary-General, briefing Security Council, tells of deep concern over Palestinian situation, amid intensive political dialogue
The past month had seen the most intensive political dialogue on the Middle East in years, although there was still deep concern over the situation on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank, B. Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the Security Council on Wednesday 24 October 2007 during his periodic briefing on the region.
He said bilateral talks between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority had continued and both had tasked their teams to work intensively on a framework document for a serious and substantive exchange during the upcoming international meeting.
In those efforts, they had been strongly supported by the Middle East diplomatic Quartet (the United Nations, United States, European Union and the Russian Federation), which had met with the League of Arab States Follow-up Committee in late September.
At the same time, he said, the Palestinian Authority was rapidly developing its reform and development plan to serve as the basis of a funding package for a donor conference scheduled for Paris to help fill a fiscal gap anticipated in 2008. It had also continued its efforts to improve law and order, but faced challenges to its planned deployment of security personnel and other initiatives.
Meanwhile, he continued, Israel’s Government had said 24 roadblocks and one checkpoint in the West Bank had been removed, while the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had reported that the total number of obstacles to movement stood at 562, down by 1 from the previous reporting period. Israel had also issued permits for some 3,400 family reunions in the West Bank -- out of a total of 54,000 pending cases -– and released a further 86 Palestinian prisoners.
Mr. Pascoe expressed hope that more such confidence-building measures would be forthcoming and strongly encouraged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to enhance cooperation on security, freedom of movement and economic rejuvenation, in close cooperation with the Quartet representative.
However, socio-economic conditions in the West Bank remained a serious concern and could be exacerbated by further planned restrictions, he said. Israel’s construction of the barrier continued, as did settlement activity, which contravened the Road Map and the Fourth Geneva Convention. In addition, strong complaints had been lodged about an order for the confiscation of almost 300 acres of Palestinian land for an alternate road network in the West Bank.
At the same time, 4 people had been killed and 69 injured due to internal Palestinian violence resulting from the continuing factional divide, he said. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas continued to disagree, with the former insisting on a reversal of the latter’s measures of the last four months and Hamas indicating its opposition to the dialogue between President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert. Hamas continued to clamp down on rival factions, leading to sometimes heavy clashes and allegations of human rights abuses. Such allegations had also been made against the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
In Israeli-Palestinian violence, meanwhile, he said, 31 Palestinians, including one child, had been killed and 153 injured, while one Israeli had been killed and six injured. Two hundred Palestinians had been detained by the Israel Defense Forces, with one prisoner dying from injuries sustained in a prison riot. Israeli army Corporal Gilad Shalit was in his seventeenth month of captivity.
He said 27 rockets and 90 mortars had been fired at Israeli targets from Gaza and one standard Grad rocket had been launched at the city of Netivot, as the Israeli Government claimed that weapons continued to be smuggled into Gaza. Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon continued to condemn all acts of terrorism, as well as all military acts targeting, endangering or harming civilians due to their disproportionate or indiscriminate character.
On humanitarian aspects, he said that, because of Israel’s decision last month to designate Gaza a hostile territory, the situation there was deteriorating alarmingly. In June and July, about 100 truckloads of humanitarian goods had been entering Gaza daily; today that number was around 50. Last month, a daily average of five critical medical cases had crossed Erez into Israel for essential medical treatment, compared to an average of 40 in July. Meanwhile, more than 1,000 Palestinians remained stranded in Egypt and one of the two crossings remaining open for humanitarian goods was slated to be closed towards the end of the month. It was difficult to see how security concerns could justify the hardship caused by those measures.
The situation within Palestinian refugee camps in the country remained precarious, with occasional armed clashes between Palestinian militias. Tangible improvements in camp living conditions were urgently needed and donors were urged to continue providing vital financial assistance for urgent humanitarian needs and reconstruction.
Turning back to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said the Secretary-General strongly backed current diplomatic efforts and hoped that an international meeting to deal with the substance of a permanent peace would have broad Arab participation, produce positive results and lead to a serious follow-up process. He encouraged the parties to be bold in reaching understandings on core issues and committing to a clear process, and called for urgent efforts by the parties to build confidence and improve the situation on the ground.
Mr. Pascoe also recalled that the Secretary-General had pledged that the entire United Nations system was committed to doing its part to meet the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. However, he regretted the continued division of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and feared it would become harder to overcome the longer it was left unaddressed.
During the reporting period, he said, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) had reported 142 Israeli overflights of Lebanese territory, which constituted serious violations of Security Council resolutions and undermined the credibility of both UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces in the eyes of the local population. Israel continued to state that its air violations were aimed at countering other alleged breaches of resolution 1701 (2006), including violations of the arms embargo.
Questions and answers
Question Deputy Minister Pahad, can you elaborate on South Africa’s role in the Sudanese situation?
Answer When South Africa was part of the AU Peace and Security Council we played a very important role in ensuring we moved towards the compromises to get the UN-AU Hybrid Force in Darfur.
Since then we have been involved through the UN Security Council, where this is a constant issue on the agenda, in trying to deal with any real or perceived obstacles to achieving the UNAMID.
South Africa has maintained bilateral discussions with Sudan and this is why the visit of President El-Bashir is so important since it will enable us to discuss further (South Africa is in constant touch with the Government of Sudan (GoS) and indeed President Salva Kirr’s Government of South Sudan (GoSS) to see whether we can deal with outstanding issues that will enable us to operation the UNAMID.
It is vital for the UNAMID to be in place because without this, reports continue to describe serious humanitarian catastrophes – incidents of rape and violence in general.
The South African government will therefore interact at that level and as I said earlier, we are trying to convince non-participating rebel groups to participate in the process because a political solution is vital. There is no option for a military solution.
The UNAMID that will replace the AU force will only create the climate in which the political processes must function.
The South African government is also in touch with Chad and the Central African Republic to, bilaterally and through the UN Security Council, to ascertain what can to be done to contain the spillover effect.
We will continue to support the Libyan processes because this is now a UN-AU process to see how we can contribute to the Sirte process.
On the other hand, we are the Chair of the AU Post-Conflict and Reconstruction Committee on Sudan and we have already trained about 700 people from the South through our UNISA capacity building programme and co-operation with other government departments including the in police services, diplomacy, judiciary, decision making, etc. We hope we can accelerate this programme through co-operation with other countries.
Finally, we are keen that any issues that have led to the GoSS withdrawing from the government of national unity are put back onto the agenda.
President Mbeki is in constant touch with both sides and we are urging them to find ways in which to create the climate for the GoSS to return to the government of national unity so that the outstanding issues can be dealt with.
This visit will be very important and we hope that following this, there will be further meetings with the leadership of the South so that we can achieve movement forward.
Our efforts in Sudan transcend bilateral efforts. We are involved with the UN Security Council and although not members, through the AU Peace and
Question Deputy Minister Pahad, can you please confirm reports that there will be a G-20 Finance Ministers meeting in Hermannus later this month?
Answer Yes, I can confirm this. This falls within the framework of the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Trade and Industry.
I will say though, this is a very important meeting given the fact that there is talk of the G-8 being extended to include the G-5 partnership, the WTO talks are not progressing as well as expected and therefore, the G-20 that brings together the more successful developing countries with some of the developed countries is a very important forum especially after the IMF and World Bank meetings in Washington. It is a very important forum for us to really exchange ideas on how we take this process of globalization forward so that it has an even impact on all.
What is clear, and all reports indicate that globalization cannot be avoided, but unfortunately globalization is working more strongly in favour of the developed countries and still, too many of the developing countries are being marginalized. South Africa has maintained this consistently: despite some positive reports about developments in Africa, at the moment all estimates are that most of our countries will not meet the Millennium Development Goals and one of the reasons is that most of the commitments from developed countries have not been met – we have seen this at Monterrey Finance Meeting, the Millennium Development Summit, the WSSD as well as the WCAR. I hope the meeting to be chaired by Minister Manual will look at how this pattern can be broken so that pledges are met to enable Africa to address its challenges.
The Department of Foreign Affairs will, because one of our priorities is economic diplomacy, follow the outcomes of this Conference so that we can inform our Embassies and High Commissions abroad and to encourage the developed countries to assist Africa more vociferously.
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
4 November 2007