Media Statement by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane during DIRCO’s Weekly Media Briefing, 06 July 2011
Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media and a warm welcome to DIRCO. Let’s begin with the Petersburg Climate Dialogue II – entitled:” Rising to the Climate Challenge” held in Berlin where I co-chaired the Dialogue with the German Federal Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Minister Norbert Röttgen.
Ladies and Gentleman it is worth noting that from 3-4 July 2011, South Africa and Germany, invited a group of 35 Ministers and their representatives to converge - in an informal setting to hold an open and frank exchange on possible ways forward in the UN Climate Change negotiations.
During the two days deliberations, Ministers acknowledged the successful outcome of the Cancún Conference of Parties to the Convention and agreed that this was a powerful signal that the international community can indeed act collectively. Ministers agreed that it was important to build on this success and the trust it had created and show continued commitment and leadership. This is crucial for moving the process forward. However it was restated that the level of ambition of existing commitments and actions was insufficient to limit the global temperature increase to below 2 degrees and that countries should urgently consider how to raise their level of ambition both at the national and international level.
Ministers recognised that the incremental approach adopted since the Copenhagen Conference had been successful and should be continued. Ministers emphasized that the Durban outcome needed to represent clear progress since Cancún, including both by addressing those outstanding issues from COP 16/CMP 6 and by operationalising the COP 16/CMP 6 decisions. Ministers identified the key political issues under negotiation that needed to be dealt with before, during and after Durban, including the question of legal form, 2nd Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol, equity, and the level of ambition of mitigation pledges. The continued value of the multilateral rules based system was strongly emphasised. The specific form that such a system would have in future was seen by some as a two-track outcome with a 2nd Commitment Period under the Kyoto Protocol and by others as a single legally binding agreement under the Convention. An indication was given that Durban should give political direction to the shape of and timing for a future comprehensive, global rules based system that ensures global warming stays below 2 or 1.5 degrees Celsius. In this regard the 2015 review will play a critical role.
Ministers presented a variety of approaches on how to address equity in the negotiations. Equity was linked by some to the consideration of the long term global goal and others emphasised access to sustainable development. It was noted that further discussion was needed in the run up to Durban and beyond. The successful operationalisation of the Cancún Agreements can facilitate the resolution of outstanding political issues. Ministers noted that many countries have already launched projects, initiatives or programmes to tackle climate change and acknowledged the value of learning from experience. Examples of effective implementation were presented at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue II which demonstrates commitment and enhances mutual trust. The importance of sharing practical experience in particular in the area of MRV and transparency was highlighted. In relation to means of Implementation Ministers stressed the importance of the delivery thereof to enable the delivery of a meaningful and credible Durban outcome.
Ministers reiterated the need to address both mitigation and adaptation in an equal manner. As a basis for effective action Ministers stressed the need for enhanced capacities in developing countries. Technology was also identified as an important component of sustainable economic transformation. On finance, Ministers highlighted that the timely and transparent delivery of “fast start” financing to support implementation of mitigation and adaptation action in developing countries will strengthen confidence in the multilateral process. Ministers stressed the need to avoid a financing gap after 2012, when the fast start finance period ends. They also emphasised the importance of meeting the long term financing goal of US$100 bn per year by 2020. In this context some Ministers raised the need for meaningful mitigation action and transparency on implementation. A variety of sources would be required, and Ministers acknowledged the need to explore further sources for long term financing that will provide the required new, additional, adequate and predictable financial flows. Ministers agreed that Durban should take a decision to operationalise the Green Climate Fund. At the same time Ministers cautioned against the fund becoming an empty shell. The Fund should play a catalytic role in assisting developing countries in their efforts to pursue transformational low-carbon and climate-resilient development paths.
There was a discussion about a possible Durban outcome which identified a variety of scenarios. Ideas for a transitional phase were suggested. With regard to mitigation Ministers acknowledged the linkage between the outcomes on the Kyoto and the Convention tracks and the relationship with the legal options for an agreed outcome on pending issues. Ideas on a transitional phase and middle ground options should be explored further. As elements for a possible Durban outcome Ministers identified i.e. the operationalisation of the Cancun outcomes, a transitional solution to ensure the continuation of a rules based system, equal emphasis of mitigation and adaptation, transparency (MRV, IAR, ICA) and finance, as well as progress on pending issues. In this regard, the insufficient level of ambition was noted. Ministers identified the need for a balanced outcome to move forward.
The meeting demonstrated once again the value of informal fora in stimulating an open and political exchange. Ministers further emphasised that such meetings were critical to advance formal negotiations and welcomed the South African initiative for further meetings in September and a PreCOP in October. Ministers agreed to take the constructive spirit and ideas of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue II back to their respective delegations to the UN negotiations and the negotiation groups they were representing. In this way the key messages from this Dialogue will be communicated to the larger group of countries that would be coming together in the autumn of 2011. They further agreed that it was critical to provide political guidance and a clear mandate to negotiators. Ministers expressed their optimism that this Ministerial Dialogue would contribute to progress in forthcoming negotiations, a further convergence of positions and the generation of much needed political momentum. This would be critical in making the Durban Conference in December a success and a key milestone in our long-term efforts to prevent dangerous climate change.
Back home, let us look at some of the developments on the African continent.
The Government of the Republic of South Africa will be deploying a high level delegation to the inaugural celebration of the new state of South Sudan, to be headed by President Jacob Zuma, accompanied by a number of Ministers and the Presidential Envoy to the Sudan, Mr. Charles Nqakula.
South Africa welcomes the expression of intention by the Republic of Sudan to be the first country to officially recognize the new state of South Sudan as an independent state. In this regard, South Africa hopes to be amongst one of the first states to also officially recognise the newest state on the African continent and in the world.
It is important for South Africa to manage and maintain a consistent balance at the onset of the separation of South Sudan from the North. The balance would serve as an important indication of South Africa’s continued commitment to enhancing relations with the Government of Sudan and new relations with the Government of South Sudan. In this regard, South Africa hopes to sign a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of Agriculture. This should serve as an important indication of South Africa’s continued commitment to deepening relations with the Government of Sudan.
South Africa and Sudan enjoy strong bilateral relations and ties as demonstrated by the various projects that are currently underway at various levels of government. South Africa and Sudan regularly convene Joint Bilateral Commission Sessions at Ministerial and Senior Officials’ levels, as well as Political Consultations.
South Africa has contributed significantly to the Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) programme through a number of Capacity and Institution Building Projects in the Sudan since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005. South Africa and the Government of Southern Sudan have been working together in partnership to ensure the adequate capacitating of the future State of South Sudan to enable it to function effectively as of its independence on 9 July 2011. As a practical demonstration of that, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, has trained more than 1500 GOSS civil servants and diplomats through its various training programmes, including Diplomatic Training, to ensure the attainment of capacity building and skills transfer for the betterment of South Sudan. South Africa also chairs the AU Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development Committee on the Sudan.
South Africa supports a sustainable peace in the Sudan; it is therefore South Africa’s desire to see peace, security and stability prevail beyond the declaration of independence of the South on 9 July 2011. South Africa views the restoration of peace, security and stability in the Sudan positively on the Horn of Africa region, and on the continent as a whole. Any instability in the Sudan impacts negatively on the nine countries that it shares border with. South Africa recently became concerned with the flair up of consistent violence in Darfur, Abyei and South Kordofan.
South Africa remains hopeful that the multilateral processes (which SA supports) to resolve the conflict in that region which assist in finding a sustainable solution. South Africa has consistently supported the work of the AUPD and continues to support the work of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel on Darfur (AUHIP) led by former President Thabo Mbeki. The main aim of the AUHIP is to seek the full implementation of the nine recommendations of the African Union High-Level Panel on Darfur (AUPD). The aim of the AUHIP has quite significantly transformed to mediate between the two parties (the Government of Sudan and the Government of South Sudan) over the post-referendum issues.
South Africa welcomes the signing on 20 June 2011 of the Agreement on Temporary Arrangements for the Administration and Security of the Abyei region between the Government of the Republic of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement as well as the signing on 28 June 2011 of the Framework Agreement on Political Partnership between the NCP and SPLM (Northern Sector) on Political Partnership and Political and Security Arrangements in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM (Northern Sector). These significant developments come at a crucial time when the two parties to the CPA need to apply all efforts to ensure the peaceful transition and birth of a new State. South Africa has confidence that the African Union High Level Implementation Panel, led by former President Mbeki, will soon reap more positive results in the negotiations between the parties to the CPA over the outstanding post-referendum issues. South Africa remains deeply concerned for the prevailing situation in South Kordofan and urges all parties to commit to the peaceful resolution of the crisis as soon as possible.
South African exports to Sudan include base metals, machinery, vehicles, wood pulp, plastics and chemicals. Imports from Sudan include vegetables, animal fats, plastics and machinery.
- Since the beginning of the Libyan crisis, South Africa has continued to call on the international community, including the Security Council to focus its energies on finding a political solution to the Libyan crisis and not a military one. To date, we still maintain that a political rather than a military solution is the only way in which durable peace can be achieved in Libya. This is emphasised in operative paragraph 2 of resolution 1973 which stresses the need to intensify efforts aimed at a political outcome.
- In an effort to support a political process in Libya, the African Union has devised a Roadmap which encourages an inclusive and consensual Libyan-owned and led transition, leading to the adoption and implementation of the necessary political reforms to address the causes of the current crisis, including democratic elections to enable the Libyans to freely choose their leaders.
- We hope that the AU will be given the necessary political space to carry out its mandate to pursue its Roadmap through its Ad hoc High Level Committee. The African Union is central to any solution in Libya and should therefore not be side-lined or undermined in any way.
- Having said this, we believe that the UN should take the lead in peace efforts in Libya in order to coordinate the different initiatives and avoid any confusion that a plethora of initiatives may possibly cause. In this context, we support the role that the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Mr. Al-Khatib continues to play in Libya.
- The African Union has called for the establishment of a verifiable ceasefire that “should lead to the establishment of a consensual and inclusive transitional period during which the necessary reforms to meet the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people would be carried out”.
- In this regard, we believe that our efforts should immediately focus on achieving a ceasefire in order to create an environment that will be conducive to constructive deliberations among the people of Libya.
Implementation of Resolution 1973
- When South Africa voted in favour of Resolution 1973, our intention was to ensure the protection of civilians and ensure unhindered access to humanitarian aid to those desperately in need of such. We had hoped that this would create an enabling environment within which the Libyans would negotiate a solution to the crisis that has befallen them. Our intention was never regime change nor was it the targeting of individuals. The future of Libya should be decided by the Libyans themselves and not by outsiders.
- South Africa urges those implementing Resolution 1973 to exercise maximum restraint and strictly ensure that their activities do not go against the letter and spirit of what was initially intended.
- South Africa calls on the Security Council, the UN in general and other stakeholders to work hand in hand with the African Union in our collective resolve to deliver the people of Libya from the scourge of conflict in which they find themselves today.
President Zuma, who is part of the African Union Ad-Hoc High Level Committee that is leading efforts to push for a peace plan to end the conflict, has called for Libya to urgently begin the peace negotiations after his talks with the Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev held on 3 July 2011. President Zuma and his Russian counterpart emphasised the importance of starting negotiations urgently and requested NATO to assist in persuading the Transitional National Council to remove some of the preconditions that are making it difficult to start with the negotiation processes. As previously announced, Colonel Gaddafi has agreed to be excluded from the negotiations.
Our assessment of the situation in Zimbabwe is that, since the formation of the Inclusive Government, there has been noticeable progress in the country, particularly on the economic front. The economic situation has stabilised, no more hyperinflation, commodities are generally available, improved revenue and tax collections, etc. Economic growth could exceed the Zimbabwean Government's forecast of 9.3% in 2011 according to the IMF focus. The political situation however remains polarized due to the slow pace of the implementation of the GPA.
In keeping with the mandate of SADC, the Facilitation Team is engaging the parties with a view to implement the GPA and most importantly to develop a roadmap to elections.
The Facilitation Team travelled to Zimbabwe on Thursday 2 June 2011 and met with the 6 negotiators from the respective parties’ signatory to the GPA to engage on the developments of the roadmap and subsequently met again ahead of the Extraordinary SADC Summit in South Africa to continue discussions on the roadmap.
Zimbabwe’s political party negotiators are expected to resume talks to finalise the roadmap ahead of the coming SADC Summit in Anglo, Luanda in August.
President Zuma, as Facilitator to the Zimbabwe political dialogue, regularly presents a report to SADC on the progress in the implementation of the GPA. President Zuma’s latest report was presented to the SADC Extra-Ordinary Summit that was held on 12 June 2011 in Sandton. South Africa and SADC expect the political leadership in Zimbabwe to implement the decisions taken by the Summit.
Furthermore, SADC is currently working on the appointment of officials to participate in the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee in line with the outcomes of the Sandton Summit.
Following the Sandton Summit, we have noted the report on the arrest and release of Minister Jameson Timba. Our position is that the parties should work together as agreed to in the GPA Article II, Declaration of Commitment.
South Africa as a SADC mandated Facilitator remains seized with the situation in Zimbabwe, assisting the political parties to resolve all outstanding issues in the implementation of the GPA. The focus is on the creation of a conducive environment for credible, peaceful, free and fair elections.
Swaziland continues to face socio-economic political challenges. The developments in Swaziland have generated international interests and attention with some calling on South Africa to actively try and address the political situation in that country.
South Africa is committed to good neighbourliness and non-interference in other countries’ domestic affairs. However, noting the latest developments in Swaziland, the South African Government has urged all the relevant parties in the Kingdom to begin a political dialogue with a view to speedily and peacefully resolve all the challenges facing the country.
Swaziland has not approached South Africa for any support in lieu of these challenges. The South African Government would consider any request for support in the interest of peace and development in the region.
Given the current economic crisis, it is unlikely that the country will recover unless there is sufficient funding from an external donor. The government will also have to improve its governance and fiscal management system. A strengthened foreign direct investment portfolio would also help to mitigate the financial crisis. The South African Government is in possession of a request for financial assistance by the Swaziland Government. The request is under consideration.
I thank you.