Statement by Minister of Defence of South Africa, Mr Charles Nqakula during the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Havana, Cuba, 29 April 2009
Honourable Chairperson and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba,
South Africa wishes to thank our hosts, the Government of the Republic of Cuba, for the excellent arrangements for this NAM Ministerial Meeting. I would also like to use this opportunity to convey to the Cuban People South Africa’s congratulations on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the triumph of your Revolution.
In this month of April, we in South Africa are also celebrating the 15th anniversary of our young democracy, which has been further strengthened by the successful holding of our fourth general elections held on the 22 of April. South Africa has enjoyed its freedom over these past 15 years because of the strong and unwavering support of the Non-Aligned Movement.
South Africa’s principled position continues to be the lifting of the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba. The embargo continues to constitute a violation of Cuba’s sovereignty and a massive violation of the human rights of her people.
The attainment of international peace, stability and security remains a primary objective, not only for the Movement, but also for South Africa. We are all aware that there are still many countries in the world which are ravaged by conflict and wars.
We all need to commit both collectively as a Movement, and as individual nation states, to ensure the peaceful settlement of conflicts. Peace and stability are a prerequisite for sustainable development.
The NAM should continue to show its solidarity towards the People of Palestine. South Africa and the rest of the world were shocked by the most recent Israeli invasion of Gaza. The continued Israeli aggression and undermining of the sovereignty of the Palestinian people clearly violates international human rights and humanitarian law. We condemn such aggression by Israel against Palestine and call on that country to implement the relevant General Assembly, Security Council and Human Rights Council resolutions.
Countries emerging from internal instability require the Movement’s support. Therefore for the newly established unity government in Zimbabwe to fully implement and consolidate the unifying process, it is essential that the international community lifts all sanctions against Zimbabwe to support efforts aimed at its sustained socio-economic reconstruction and development.
Multilateralism is a cornerstone of South Africa’s foreign policy. We support efforts to reform the United Nations system, especially the Security Council. We believe the Security Council is not representative of the geopolitical realities of the 21st century. There is therefore an urgent need for the Security Council to be reformed in order to ensure equitable geographic representation in both the permanent and non-permanent categories. In order to be responsive to the fulfilment of its mandate in terms of the Charter it must become transparent, democratic and legitimate.
South Africa remains strongly committed to the cause of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control. The South African Government is committed to a policy on non-proliferation and arms control which cover all weapons of mass destruction, and the proliferation of conventional weapons. For South Africa, the three pillars of the NPT are inextricably linked. New measures are required to curb the threat of the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Such measures should not in any way undermine the inalienable right of states to utilise such technologies for peaceful purposes, as recognised by the NPT.
As a responsible possessor of advanced technologies, South Africa regards its policy on disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control as a direct extension of its commitment to democracy, human rights, sustainable development, social justice and environmental protection. As part of this commitment South Africa signed several conventions including the one on the prohibition on cluster munitions.
We welcome the successful conclusion of the Durban Review Conference in Geneva on Friday, 24 April 2009. We are pleased that the outcome document of that Review Conference reaffirmed the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. We are pleased that it also endorses the notion that all peoples and individuals constitute one human family, united in diversity.
Within this context, South Africa regrets attempts which were made to undermine the established practice in the multilateral system, of engaging in negotiations and resolving differences on the basis of established mechanisms. The unprecedented threats and boycotts during the Review Conference were profoundly disturbing, given their potential to create a dangerous precedent, which, if it is allowed to continue, may mutate into counter-threats and boycotts of the outcomes of issues in the multilateral sphere of negotiations.
This trend is distressing. It is incumbent on all of us seriously to consider the implications of such tactics. These tactics are clearly counter-productive.
Today, almost a billion people still live in dehumanising and degrading poverty and hunger. Six million children under the age of five die every year from poverty and hunger-related illnesses. This has been exacerbated by the food crisis, volatile energy prices, the fall in commodity prices and climate change. This situation is unacceptable, especially since it is possible for the world to remedy these scourges and produce and distribute food for everyone.
Furthermore the world is faced with a financial and economic crisis, which is having a serious effect on the poorest amongst us. These multi-faceted and interconnected crises pose serious risks to developing countries, in particular Africa, and may set back Africa’s progress towards attaining the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, by many years.
South Africa recognizes that in order to achieve a better life for all, poverty eradication and overall sustainable development must be pursued from a global perspective. We look forward to the High Level Meeting on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development scheduled for early June this year. In this regard it will be important for the General Assembly to take into account all complimentary processes and international initiatives that seek to address comprehensively the global financial and economic crisis.
We support efforts to create a more equitable and inclusive system of global economic and financial governance. We believe that far-reaching reforms of the Bretton Woods Institutions are needed to ensure, inter alia, that developing countries have a greater voice and representation in the global financial institutions.
Consequently, we believe that a more concerted effort from the international community is required to ensure that progress is made towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals, meeting longstanding commitments on Aid for Trade, debt relief and overseas development assistance, including the Gleneagles and subsequent commitments.
Developed countries need to display the unequivocal political will urgently to operationalise and implement all commitments made to enhance the global partnership for development in order to create a better life for all those millions of people who so desperately need to be lifted out of dehumanizing and degrading poverty and hunger.
Collective and coherent action is needed in each interrelated area, involving all stakeholders in an active partnership to achieve a just and fair world in which the fundamental human right to development becomes a reality for all.
South Africa continues to be encouraged by progressive trends in South-South co-operation, especially in the areas of trade and investment. We recognize that South-South co-operation offers substantial potential to countries of the South for technical, financial, and institutional partnerships towards addressing challenges common to developing countries.
As some progress is made to achieve more effective North-South relationships, there still remains a need for action to strengthen South-South cooperation at the inter-regional, regional and sub-regional levels.
South Africa welcomes the key underlying principles of South-South Co-operation, which is based on, among others, a strong; genuine; broad-based partnership and solidarity; equality; and mutual respect which strives for strengthened multilateralism.
For us it is important to promote an action-oriented approach to development challenges as well as the exchange of best practices and support among developing countries in the common pursuit of their broad development objectives.
This will provide an enabling environment for developing countries to play a more active role in international policy and decision-making processes, in support of their efforts to achieve sustainable development.
In conclusion Chair, SA firmly believes in the importance and relevance of the Non-Aligned Movement. We will further enhance and strengthen our solidarity when we meet later this year at summit level in Sharm-el-Sheikh.
I thank you.