Statement by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, to the NAM Ministerial Meeting – Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, 10 May 2012
Honourable Chairperson and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, Honourable Ministers, President of the UN General Assembly His Excellency Nasser Abdel Aziz, Heads of Delegation, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of my delegation and myself I take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the government and people of Egypt for the hospitality extended to us since our arrival in this beautiful city of Sharm El Sheikh. As Africans we are proud of the excellent manner in which you steered the work of the Movement in the past two-and-a-half years. Under your able and outstanding stewardship, the Movement has remained focused and united around its principles and objectives. We would also like to express our unconditional support to our incoming Chair, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and look forward to the Summit to be held in Tehran in August.
The Movement has come a long way, making significant strides and advances in the past 50 years of its existence in the fight against colonialism, oppression and apartheid and in the struggle for democracy, human rights and security. The world has changed since our powerful Movement was founded and different forms of challenges to humanity and our common existence have arisen. The founding principles and objectives of the Movement remain forever relevant. It is our responsibility to refine and redefine our strategies and tactics to respond to the changed world order and evolving challenges. We should strengthen our common resolve to deal with the challenges of poverty and under-development, peace and security, democracy and respect for human rights. We have to continue with our quest to address the reform of institutions of global governance, the impact of climate change, disarmament and nuclear proliferation and terrorism.
It is very important that we continue to strive for a multilateral approach to global challenges and promote respect for international law. Poverty and under-development continue to pose a major challenge to majority of the Movement’s members, with about 58 of our members categorized as least developed countries. In this respect we need to consolidate our efforts towards the strengthening of south-south cooperation and solidarity to assist them graduate from that status. The scourge of poverty and under-development seems to have taken the place of colonialism and oppression in the 21st Century and is posing a fundamental challenge to the relevance of the Movement today.
As we gather here 50 years after the Movement was founded, our people across the globe who live in poverty are wondering as to whether we care about their plight and anxiously wait to see what we will do to improve their living conditions. The Movement should be repositioned to be at the centre of efforts to address these challenges bearing in mind that freedom, justice and equality will be meaningless in the face of persistent poverty. North-South cooperation is crucial but that cannot in and of itself be a panacea to the challenges of poverty. Strengthening South-South cooperation therefore becomes imperative.
South Africa continues to be of the firm belief that security and development are inextricably linked. Over the past decades we witnessed a decrease in the number of conflicts, particularly on the African continent. The United Nations and regional organizations such as the African Union continue to play a crucial role in the resolution of conflicts, peace-making, peacekeeping and peace-building. We would like, in this regard, to commend the majority of our membership that continues to constitute the major contributors to UN peacekeeping operations. The Movement has to continue to jealously guard the principles of peacekeeping; impartiality, neutrality and consent of the host government. We have to remain vigilant and guard against UN peacekeeping operations from being hijacked for other agendas.
For us peace-building remains crucial and in this regard support a long-term, integrated approach that takes into account the inter-linkages between security and development. Countries of the south should have a major stake in the deployment of civilian capacities to bolster peace-building efforts.
We should continue to strengthen the United Nations as a multilateral institution of global governance. The UN today stands as the only credible, representative and legitimate institution of global governance where our Movement enjoys an undisputed majority. The Movement should redouble efforts towards the reform of the UN and its main bodies. We reiterate that the anachronistic configuration of the UN Security Council is not sustainable in today’s world. It is for this reason that we should speed up its reform, to reflect the global realties of the 21st Century. For South Africa, the reform of the UN Security Council entails expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent categories.
In the past 16 months we witnessed tensions and instability in different regions of the world. We are encouraged by the progress that has been registered thus far in some of those areas. Whilst many challenges prevail, we are mindful that these are surmountable. South Africa appreciates all the efforts by the international community that were directed to the peaceful resolution of these situations. This Movement has over the years been the vanguard of the principles of sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of States. In the spirit of solidarity we should continue to assist one another in order to resolve whatever challenges confront each of our Members and avoid actions that could be divisive.
South Africa is extremely concerned at the on-going instability and crisis in Mali and Guinea Bissau. South Africa condemns in the strongest terms possible the unconstitutional changes of government in those two African countries. In this regard we support all efforts, in particular those of ECOWAS, the AU and the UN to comprehensively restore constitutional order.
In Somalia, South Africa commends the extraordinary efforts of the IGAD and the AU Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) for the strides and advances being made in resolving the instability in that sisterly African state.
We have noted with appreciation the commitments of both the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to unconditionally cease hostilities and return to negotiations to resolve all outstanding issues.
South Africa welcomes and supports the peaceful efforts of the UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy for Syria, Mr Kofi Annan. South Africa urges all the Syrian parties to cooperate with the Joint Special Envoy in his efforts to peacefully resolve the situation there.
We continue to express our unwavering support and solidarity with the people of Palestine in their struggle for self- determination, freedom and justice. Eighteen years after our own liberation, the people of South Africa continue to strongly identify with the plight of the Palestinians and their struggle. South Africa supports the Palestinian application for membership of the United Nations and in this regard we call on all other members of the Movement who have not yet done so to recognize the State of Palestine. The Palestinian struggle remains the struggle of the Non-Aligned Movement.
In this regard we remain committed to the right to self-determination and decolonization as enshrined in the UN Charter and UN resolutions and we support efforts of all oppressed peoples and occupied territories to determine their own political destines in accordance with international law.
South Africa continues to favour a multilateral approach to issues of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control. It is only solutions based on the commitment of the international community as a whole that offer the most viable and sustainable methods of limiting, preventing and eliminating the threats posed by the proliferation of both conventional arms and weapons of mass destruction.
We should continue to strengthen the Movement as a progressive force for global change and centre of gravity for the advancement of the peace and sustainable development agenda
Climate change remains a matter of global concern with its impact disproportionally affecting countries of the south, the majority of who are members of this Movement. We were last year honoured to welcome many of you to our shores as host of the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17). We are grateful for your support and solidarity that led to the historic outcome in the form of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action. We continue to do our part as President and look forward to handing over to Qatar, as the President of COP 18, in November.
Finally Chairperson, the 8th of January 2012 marked a Centenary anniversary of our gigantic liberation movement, the African National Congress, an historic milestone indeed!
I would like to take this opportunity to express the sincere gratitude of the People of South Africa to the members of the Movement for the solidarity that this Movement extended to us in the past 50 years of its existence.
Your unwavering commitment to our struggle for freedom, justice and equality and against colonialism, oppression and racism was unparalleled. We remain indebted to your collective and individual support and solidarity, even 18 years after our liberation. We welcome and appreciate the adoption of the Declaration on the Centenary Anniversary of the ANC as a Liberation Movement by this august gathering of the NAM Ministerial meeting. We must use the same resolve we used against Apartheid to support the people of Palestine in their struggle for self-determination.
I thank you!