Minister Dlamini Zuma’s Statement to the XV Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement, 29 July, 2008 Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Honorable Chairperson and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran,
Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba and Chair of the NAM,
Heads of Delegation,
On behalf of my delegation I would like to convey our heartfelt gratitude to the Government and people of the Islamic Republic of Iran for their hospitality in hosting this Conference. It is important that the XV Ministerial Conference takes place in a region that is rich in cultures, civilizations and religions. I would like to congratulate His Excellency Mr. Manoucher Mottaki, for assuming the Chair of the Conference.
Allow me to express our appreciation to the Chair of our Movement, Cuba, especially our colleague, the Foreign Minister, H.E. Felipe Perez Rogue, and his experienced team for steering the Movement so efficiently since assuming the Chair. The Movement’s revitalization has continued under their Chairship.
We in South Africa will never forget the Non-Aligned Movement’s unwavering support in our struggle against apartheid in the multilateral arena, in particular in the United Nations, exemplifying the Movement’s solidarity for peace, justice and friendship with the people of South Africa. This contributed to the defeat of apartheid and has given us the opportunity to build a non-racial and non sexist society.
It is therefore an honour for me to address you at this Conference with its theme: “Solidarity for peace, justice and friendship”. This is very pertinent, not only for the challenges that face this region and all other regions of the Movement, but especially because it encompasses the very spirit of our Movement.
At the historical Bandung Conference of 1955, our leaders adopted the Principles of the Movement - principles that not only reflect cultural co-operation and promote dialogue among different civilizations, but that have guided and held this Movement together over time. The embracing of these principles by all of us lie at the heart of the success of this Movement, as reflected in its survival beyond the Cold War even when many in the developed world, including some among us were predicting its inevitable demise.
The NAM has survived because it rejected unilateralism and continued to enhance co-operation and solidarity, and we have expanded beyond our selves and reached out to the developed nations of the world.
Both the UN and NAM were established to prevent wars and to create peace amongst nations, but the new challenges we face today in the international community shows how fragile this understanding is.
At this Conference, the masses of people that we represent expect from us to speak as a unified voice and act together to ensure that the developed North does not take decisions, often unilateral, that do not take into consideration the development needs of the South and the diversity of cultures in the global village. Clearly the billions of people that we represent want us to ensure that whatever we do, within the NAM and within the UN, should at all times guarantee them peace, security, stability, prosperity and development.
South Africa remains steadfast in our firm belief that solutions must be found to what is seemingly elusive peace in the Middle East region. Peace and stability in the region especially in Palestine will contribute to peace in the world.
Our continent has a fair share of problems but the important fact is that the AU and the regional organizations are attending to each and every one and finding solutions.
In the face of dangerous unilateralism in the world, the NAM continued to uphold the banner of mulitlateralism, which is the only realistic response to the global challenges. We welcome the beginnings of the multipolar world, which is strengthening multilateralism.
Men and women are equal. As the NAM we should not only adhere to the equality of nations, large and small, but also to equality of human beings. The world free of domination by the strong and powerful is as important as a world free of sexism.
This year we are celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. We should use this commemoration as an opportunity to celebrate cultural diversity, to promote mutual tolerance and to engage concrete initiatives towards the promotion of Human Rights and recognition that women’s rights are human rights. Rights must include the right of our citizens to education, to health, to food security, clean water and sanitation, shelter and the right to energy.
I would like to agree with the Foreign Minister of Belarus that we should not allow the technologies for the new forms of energy to be concentrated in the hands of the few – this will usher an era of the “energy gap”.
The NAM should lead the fight against the new forms of slavery – trafficking in human beings- mainly women and children – is totally unacceptable and we should fight it using all our might.
We should ask ourselves what role our Movement can play in promoting and consolidating common understanding, human rights and prosperity. We should use the lessons from our rich history to build our future and to further enhance solidarity in our Movement to the increase South-South Cooperation and the dialogue with the North. Both North and South should show tolerance to each other, to achieve real harmony without any attempt to dominate.
In this regard, attention should also be drawn to the social and economic aspects of achieving real dialogue because without consideration of the socio-economic issues political dialogue would not contribute to the objectives of balancing development, security and human rights.
The global food and energy crisis, climate change and terrorism require a true multilateral approach and requires co-operation between the North and the South. An approach that is in the spirit of friendship, partnership and solidarity. An approach that recognizes that poverty and under-development can be conquered if there is true solidarity because there are adequate resources in the world.
The challenge is how can the NAM mobilize its own Members and the rest of the world behind such an approach?
I thank you Mr. Chair.
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
29 July 2008