Notes following Minister’s Media Briefing on Current and International Issues, 05 April 2011

Programme Director
Ladies and gentlemen, good morning
Once again, let me welcome you to this week’s weekly media briefing.

We have decided to begin this week’s briefing by reiterating the thrust of our foreign policy, which we have previously communicated in numerous platforms such as media briefings and conferences; and through various channels such as our website, media statements, strategy documents and numerous booklets which we have distributed extensively.

Allow me, ladies and gentlemen, to take you back to the basics of our foreign policy.

I. THRUST OF OUR FOREIGN POLICY

We have said our Foreign Policy Priorities are:

(A) The Consolidation of the African Agenda, this entails, amongst others:

  • the need for Africa’s economic growth and development;
  • economic integration at the regional and sub-regional levels;
  • trade and investment; and
  • democratisation and good governance.

 (B) Strengthening of South-South Dialogue, this entails, amongst others:

  • ensuring that it remains a weapon of political and socio-economic emancipation of developing countries; and
  • ensuring that this cooperation promotes interdependence and cooperation among countries of the South and our common fight for a world free of economic and political injustice, poverty and inequality.   

(C) Strengthening of North-South Cooperation, this entails, amongst others:

  • working together to confront challenges of poverty, development, peace and security, and post-conflict reconstruction; and
  • soliciting the support of our partners in the North, to give momentum to the reform of UN and other Institutions of Global Governance.

(D) Participation in the Global System of Governance, this entails, amongst others:

  • working actively towards global political and socio-economic stability within the multilateral system;
  • promoting development, security, human rights and international law through our participation in the UN System and other forums.

 (E) Strengthening of Political and Economic Relations, this entails, amongst others:

  • consolidating our traditional bilateral political partnerships, as they remain important vehicles for promoting the country’s domestic priorities;
  • assist us in establishing focused and strategic platforms of cooperation (e.g. BNCs, JBCs, and JPCs);
  • use such to identify opportunities for strengthening cooperation for our socio-economic development and that of the region

 2. Principles underpinning our Foreign Policy remain, our commitment to:

  • Africa in world affairs;
  • Economic development through regional and international Cooperation
  • The promotion of human rights;
  • The promotion of democracy;
  • Justice and international law in the conduct of relations between nations; and
  • International peace and to internationally agreed upon mechanisms for the resolution of conflicts.

3. Our Foreign Policy’s ideological outlook and value system is informed by:

  • the spirit of internationalism;
  • the rejection of colonialism and other forms of oppression;
  • the quest for the unity and economic, political and social renewal of Africa;
  • the promotion and defense of the plight of the suffering masses and poor of the world; and
  • the opposition to the structural inequality and abuse of power in the global system. 

 Our international agenda is anchored on the goal of creating a better South Africa, and contributing to a better and safer Africa in a better world.

II. FOREIGN POLICY POSITIONS

We hope that what we have outlined above will help to give clarity to everyone on what the thrust of our foreign policy is. We will now look at the current affairs in foreign policy execution.

1. COP 17 NOV/DEC

Recently at the invitation of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico and current COP16/CMP6 President, Ms Patricia Espinosa, I as the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and Incoming COP President/Chairperson, led the South African delegation to Mexico to attend the International Dialogue “Implementing the Cancun Agreements” which took place in Mexico City, on 22-24 March 2011.  The International Dialogue was attended by 35 countries with 10 countries represented at the Ministerial Level. It included informal meetings and a frank exchange of views about the modalities on implementing the Cancun Agreements with governments, the private sector, civil society/NGOs, academia and legislators.

As you will recall, some of the major accomplishments of the Cancun Agreements include the following:

  • The Conference agreed on a global target to keep global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius;
  • Creation of a Technology Mechanism which will be composed by a Technology Executive Committee and a Climate Technology Centre and Network;
  • Establishment of the Green Climate Fund, which should become a key tool for delivering climate finance to developing countries.  It is expected that the World Bank will act as interim trustee for the Green Fund for three years.
  • Creation of an international framework for REDD+ whose objective is to encourage specific activities in order to slow, halt and reverse forest loss in the developing world, taking into account indigenous peoples and local communities’ rights;
  • A robust and transparent mitigation package, with quantified economy-wide emission reduction targets by Annex I Parties and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions, commonly known as NAMAs, by developing country Parties.  This package envisions a continuous process of review of targets in order to move towards increasing the collective level of ambition, and encourages the development of national low-carbon strategies.

The International Dialogue’s primary objective was to garner the requisite momentum amongst the international stakeholders towards the implementation of the Cancun Agreements specifically on the five critical areas of the international negotiations process: Technology Transfer, Adaptation, Financing, Mitigation and Capacity Building, as well as REDD+.

The visit to Mexico allowed me to note the work captured in the Cancun Agreements and also to have a clear direction on what further work is required going forward.  This work includes:

  • Other work and processes associated with the elements of the future multilateral climate change regime that was agreed in Cancun;
  • Secondly, balanced progress on elements of the future multilateral climate change system that were not agreed to in Cancun but that are a priority for some Parties;
  • Thirdly, work relating to the question of the level of ambition required to limit global temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius or even, a limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius that vulnerable countries are calling for; and
  • Finally, work on options for the legal form of the outcome under the Convention, which is directly linked to the question of a 2nd Commitment Period under the Kyoto Protocol. This is directly related to equity questions and the fundamental principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities which are enshrined in the Convention, of what is a fair allocation of effort and cost among countries.

The visit also allowed me to interface with a number of international stakeholders on climate change including Ms Patricia Espinosa, the current COP16/CMP6 President, Ms Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, the Chairs of the four Bodies and Working Groups of the UNFCCC, the Minister of Singapore for Environment and Water Resources, Dr Ibrahim Yacoob, and other notable delegates.

Additionally, the visit to Mexico allowed South African officials who are intimately involved in the logistical and substance preparations for COP17/CMP7 to exchange views with their Mexican counterparts on the strategies and preparations needed in order for South Africa to host a successful COP17/CMP7. 

2. IVORY COAST

South Africa is deeply concerned at the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Côte d’Ivoire.

We believe that:

  • ECOWAS (the regional body), the AU and the United Nations should persist in their quest to find a peaceful political solution to the current crises in Côte d’Ivoire, which is now rapidly sliding back into a civil war;
  • a political solution, aimed at restoring national reconciliation and unity, democracy, good governance is the only sustainable approach to ensuring long-term stability in Côte d’Ivoire; and
  • The continued senseless killing of civilians, threats and acts of intimidation as well as the rising numbers of refugees is a serious violation of human rights.

We want to put on record that South Africa voted in favour of Resolution 1975 (2011) as the resolution is fully in line with the roadmap outlined by the African Union, as it calls for:

  • an end to hostilities,
  • the protection of civilians and
  • for the parties to implement the political solution endorsed by the African Union

South Africa supports the call, by the AU, United Nations and SADC Organ Troika on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation for Mr. Laurent Gbagbo to immediately hand over power to the internationally recognized winner of the Ivorian Presidential elections, Mr. Allassane Ouattara, in order to avoid further bloodshed.

3. LIBYA

Let me at the outset indicate that as part of the international community’s response to address the current instability in North Africa, and in particular the challenges faced to deal with the outflow of refugees in the region, South Africa has contribute R2 million to the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), in order to assist that UN Agency to execute its mandate in providing assistance to these refugees and other displaced persons. It is believed that this modest contribution would assist these vulnerable groups in their hour of need.

We fully support the resolutions of the AU Peace and Security Council and the UNSC calling for a peaceful resolution to the situation in Libya.

Operations aimed reiterate at enforcing the “no-fly zone” and protecting civilians should be limited to just that. This is because we are against the killing of civilians; any “regime change” doctrine and foreign occupation of Libya or any sovereign state.

Our support of Resolutions 1970 and 1973 are based on:

  • Our values of human rights, human dignity and freedoms, which behooved of us not to be silent while people were being massacred in Libya by their own government;
  • Our ideological outlook which emphasizes/prioritizes the spirit of internationalism, the rejection of colonialism and other forms of oppression, and the promotion and defense of the plight of the suffering masses of the world; and that
  • the UN resolution 1973 contained elements of civilian protection and the delivery of humanitarian assistance to those affected in Libya.

We believe NATO’s involvement in Libya is solely based on the UNSC Resolution (1973) as the operational commanding or implementing unit of the UNSC.

Our expectations are that:

  • A peaceful and political solution, based on the will of the Libyan people, and their legitimate aspirations for democracy, peace, justice and respect for human rights will prevail in Libya.

As a member of the AU High-Level Committee appointed by the AU-PSC to mediate in the Libyan conflict, we will be prepared to assist Libya to re-establish peace and security. Hence we call for the immediate cessation of hostilities and the adoption and implementation of political reforms.

We also throw our weight behind the pronouncement of the SADC Summit Organ Troika on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation calling on for “the adherence to the political track initiated by the AU, to pave the way for a political solution in accordance with all its resolutions”.

4. ZIMBABWE

 We fully support the decision by the SADC Organ Troika (made up of Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia) on Politics, Defence, and Security Cooperation which resolved that:

  • Immediately stop Violence, intimidation, hate speech, harassment and other  forms of action that contradicts the letter and spirit of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) must end with immediate effect;
  • All stakeholders to the GPA should implement all its provisions and create a conducive environment for peace, security and free political activity;
  • The Inclusive Government in Zimbabwe should complete all the necessary steps for the holding of the election, including the finalization of the constitutional amendments and the referendum;
  • SADC should assist in the formulation of guidelines aimed at assisting the holding of elections that will be peaceful, free and fair; and
  • The Troika shall appoint a team of officials to join the Facilitation Team and work with the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee to ensure monitoring, evaluation and implementation of the GPA.

I thank you all.


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