Statement by Deputy Minister Marius Fransman at the Ministerial Interactive Debate of the XVI Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit, Teheran, Iran, 28-29 August 2012
Permit me first to convey hearty felicitations from the people and Government of South Africa to the people and Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and our appreciation for the warm hospitality extended to us during our stay here in Tehran. The generosity of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the aftermath of the tragic loss of life caused by the devastating earthquakes in the North, surely attests to your commitment to our great Movement. While we convey our heartfelt condolences for the loss of life to the people of Iran, we must commend them for the skillful management of the challenges posed by the earthquake.
Chairperson, we commend and thank the Government of Egypt for steering our Movement with distinction in the last three years. We also congratulate the Islamic Republic of Iran on its assumption of the Chair. Not only are we confident in the leadership of this country, but my country South Africa is ready to offer its unwavering support.
South Africa, firmly believes that during the half a century that our Movement has been in existence it has accomplished a lot. It is primarily due to the efforts of this Movement that many of us owe our independence. The NAM took on the challenge of decolonization with conviction and a single mindedness that culminated in the triumph of humanity over Apartheid. At the height of the Cold War this Movement stood out as a formidable voice of reason that ensured that humanity was not held hostage to the interests of any one power.
The challenge for us as we enter the next fifty year phase of our work is how do we invoke the spirit and qualities that ensured these successes of the past to effectively use it in defense of our interests in a world that is changing drastically?
Central to the founding of our Movement 51 years ago was peace. This is what we still stand for, yet no lasting peace is possible without addressing the needs of our people. This includes democracy, human rights, poverty eradication and sustainable development. South Africa firmly believes that development and security are inextricably linked. Therefore the key challenge for our Movement in the pursuit of lasting peace must be how it amasses its collective strength to rise to the challenges of sustainable development. In a context where the North is under financial and economic distress, while some of our members are experiencing unparalleled rates of growth, how do we retain our unity and single-mindedness to remain the champions of the poor? How does our Movement remain relevant and recognizable to its constituency - the vast numbers of women and children whose aspirations are frustrated by extreme poverty?
The Movement should be repositioned to be at the center of global governance where the needs of our people are addressed - bearing in mind that freedom, justice and equality are meaningless in the face of persistent poverty. In terms of global governance we must continue to assert the primacy of the United Nations. The UN today is the only universal, credible and legitimate institution of global governance where our Movement enjoys an undisputed majority. It therefore, behooves us as members of the Movement, always to strive for unity across the UN bodies and not to allow our national interests to take precedence over our collective objectives. Individually, each one of us is weak, but as a united collective, we can move mountains. Furthermore, we must resist efforts to divide us and use us as surrogates in battles that detract us from championing the needs of our people. The Movement should therefore redouble its efforts towards the reform of the UN and its main bodies. The anachronistic configuration of the UN Security Council is untenable in today’s world. We must also improve the effectiveness of the General Assembly.
Surely, in the 6th decade of our Movement’s existence, the situation in the Middle East - in particular the plight of the Palestinians and their struggle for self determination should remain at the core of our efforts for global peace and security. The Palestinian struggle remains and continues to be a legitimate struggle for Freedom, Justice and Equality. We should continue to be vocal about our condemnation and disapproval of the Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territories. It is regrettable that until today the UN Security Council has failed to act on the Palestine/Israeli conflict due to the veto of one permanent member.
As a member of the NAM Committee on Palestine we regret that the Committee was prevented from expressing our solidarity with the people of Palestine by holding an extra ordinary meeting in Ramallah. Therefore, this Summit must send a strong message to the Israelis that the continued occupation of Palestine and construction of settlements will not be tolerated. This Summit needs to explore other options and avenues to assist the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom. We have issued enough statements and adopted sufficient declarations, what is long overdue are results oriented actions.
The situation in Syria continues to be a major concern for South Africa. In this regard we wish to express our appreciation for the efforts of Mr. Kofi Annan the former Joint Special Envoy. We continue to call for the resolution of the conflict through diplomatic and peaceful means. We reiterate our view that there can be no military solution to the crisis in Syria. We therefore support the appointment Mr. Laktar Brahimi, as a Joint Special Representative for Syria. We call on all the parties to the Syrian conflict to cooperate with the Joint Special Representative.
In conclusion for us to ensure lasting peace through joint global governance, we need to strive to enhance our effectiveness as a Movement. To achieve this we should be open minded to constructive criticism. We must be able to look at ourselves critically where necessary. As peers, there is a lot we as peers and members of the Movement can learn from each other and collectively rise to serious challenges. If we do not do this then we allow the perpetuation of the belief that we have become moribund and disconnected from the wishes of our peoples and that our gatherings are nothing but mutual admiration exercises where we dare not face the truth.
I thank you.