Statement by H.E. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa During the Security Council Debate on,“Optimizing the Use of Preventive Diplomacy Tools : Prospects and Challenges in Africa”, New York, 16 July 2010

Mr President,

South Africa would like to thank you Mr President for inviting us to this very important debate on the “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Optimizing the use of Preventive Diplomacy”. The topic you have chosen relates directly to the decision of the African Union Assembly to proclaim 2010 as the Year of Peace and Security in Africa.

We have long recognised the importance of preventive diplomacy as a critical tool to avert the outbreak of conflicts. The escalation of peacekeeping costs over the years (in terms of both material and human life) has also necessitated the need for the international community to focus more on conflict prevention both regionally and globally.

The African Continent has borne the brunt of violent conflicts over the decades. It is for this reason that since its inception in 2002, the African Union has worked tirelessly to establish a comprehensive Peace and Security Architecture which is founded on a paradigm that recognises both preventative diplomacy and post-conflict reconstruction and development as key to eradicating conflicts on our continent.

The mechanisms that the African Union has put in place in this regard, bear testimony to the commitment of our continent in addressing peace and security challenges in a comprehensive manner.
In our sub-region, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) continues to play a critical role in ensuring sub-regional stability. In this context, its Organ on Politics, Defence and Security has undertaken mediation efforts in quelling potential conflicts. SADC has also launched the SADC Brigade consisting of military, police and civilian components from all SADC member states, which will form part of the African Union Stand-by Force for rapid deployment should the need arise.

All these efforts are anchored on the UN Charter, particularly Article 33 that provides for mediation as one of the diplomatic methods for Pacific Settlement of Disputes. With the changed nature of conflicts from inter-state to intra-state, preventive diplomacy has become an indispensable tool used by both the United Nations and Regional Organisations.

Mr President,

Efforts to bring about the consolidation of peace and stability have been and remain a complex matter that requires political will and commitment from all parties involved, including the support mechanisms.  In the last few years, we have witnessed a reduction in the number of violent conflicts as a result of the collective efforts of the United Nations, the international community and regional organisations. 

African Member States, through their sub-regional formations have taken responsibility while at the same time recognising that peaceful resolution of disputes remains a sovereign responsibility.  

Also, the Secretary-General’s Good Offices continues to play an important role in its mediation efforts.  One very important option in this regard, is the strengthening of the Mediation Support Office and Early Warning Capacity within the Department of Political Affairs which will help better provide coordination, communication, support and guidance.
With this in mind, the African Union has always strived to deepen its partnership with the United Nations on matters relating to maintenance of international peace and security.  Our efforts towards a strategic partnership between the United Nations and the African Union in the maintenance of peace and security in our continent is informed by the reality that regional organizations have a comparative advantage in confronting such challenges within their regions.

This comparative advantage is increasingly allowing the AU to respond pro-actively and in a rapid manner, limiting the escalation of conflict and human suffering. This is evident in recent interventions by the African Union in Sudan and Somalia, as well as through its mediation efforts and peace support operations, thus clearly demonstrating its political will and commitment to confronting peace and security challenges.

Mr President,

Dialogue is important to South Africa and we therefore hold the view that in preventing lapse and relapse back into conflict, the importance of creating and maintaining peace through inclusive dialogue, reconciliation and re-integration must always be underscored.  Finding a global strategy for preventive diplomacy, including traditional means of mediation as well as peacekeeping and peace-building methods deployed under the UN Charter, is essential in this regard. We firmly believe that at the heart of the preventive diplomacy, socio-economic development is as important for the realisation of sustainable peace and could indeed create economic opportunities in countries affected by conflict. 

The success of preventive diplomacy depends not only on an effective early-warning mechanism, but also on the involvement of non-state actors.  For instance, community-based organisations have demonstrated time and again that they can be a partner to governments and the international community in providing early warning support and acting proactively (and decisively) to prevent a potential conflict situation.

Preventative diplomacy is one good example of the international community working together for lasting peace and sustainable development.

Thank you, Mr President

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