|Written submission by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Marius Fransman, on the occasion of a Roundtable Discussion on “South Africa’s Second Tenure in the UN Security Council: Promoting the African Agenda, UNISA, Pretoria
03 February 2012
Members of the Academia;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps here with us today;
Members of Media;
Honourable Guests; and
Ladies and gentlemen.
In his State of Nation Address of February 2011, President Zuma said:
“We have taken up our non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, which we will use to promote the African agenda as well as peace and security in Africa and the world. We have come a long way and we have achieved a lot, but challenges still remain”.
Please, allow me to thank the Institute for Global Dialogue for inviting me to this august event, and indeed for giving us an opportunity to share with you some of our foreign policy postures, especially our second tenure in the UNSC in which we are promoting the African Agenda. South Africa is the integral part of Africa and therefore, its interests are inseparable from those of the continent. We cannot sustain our hard won freedom and prosperity, unless our neighbours are safe and prosperous – and so goes an adage that says “bagger my neighbour, better my neighbour”. I say this because our foreign policy posture moves from a premise that there is an inextricable link between our future and that of Africa – for the greater good of our continent.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It would be recalled that on 12 October 2010, South Africa was once again elected by the United Nations General Assembly to serve as a non-permanent member of the Organization’s Security Council (UNSC) for the 2011-12 term. Our country received 182 out of the possible 191 votes of Member States attending the meeting. We had been endorsed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), as well as the African Union (AU) as the African candidate for this rotating seat on UN organ.
It is against this backdrop that on 01 January 2011, we began our second term as a non-permanent member of the UNSC. In pursuing the UNSC membership, we had to build on the achievements and lessons learnt during our previous tenure (2007-08) in the Council. We did realize therefore that there is a need for continuity in order to consolidate our gains, but to also create flexibility to improve on our work and respond effectively to emerging global issues and challenges.
It has become public knowledge that our foreign policy trajectory remains firmly anchored in championing the African Agenda and that of other developing countries of the world. In this context, we will continue our efforts to bring into full view our national interests, African aspirations, as well as an equitable and just world order. We have said it on various occasions that our vision is of an African continent that is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, united and which contributes to a world that is just and equitable. Quite clearly, our membership of the Security Council presents us with a golden opportunity to promote the African agenda as well as South Africa’s national priorities – thus giving us an edge to advance the maintenance of international peace and security for socio-economic development to prosper.
I am now reminded by what our Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, said upon our resumption of membership on the UNSC on 05 January 2011:
“South Africa in the conduct of its international relations is committed to garner support for our domestic priorities; to promote the interests of the African Continent; to promote democracy and human rights; uphold justice and international law in relations between nations; seek the peaceful resolution of conflicts; and promote economic development through regional and international co-operation in an inter-dependent world.
Accordingly, our membership on the Security Council coincided with a number of challenges, among them, but not limited to the holding of a referendum in Southern Sudan, the post-electoral challenges in Cote d’Ivoire, the fluid situation in Middle-East and North Africa, debates around the possible draw-down or exit of key UN peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Chad/Central African Republic (MONUSCO and MINURCAT) respectively.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The first year of South Africa’s membership on the UNSC has also been marked by the busy agenda of Council. During this time, the Council adopted over 50 resolutions; 30 presidential statements; and over 40 press statements. The UNSC has also convened over 60 meetings in closed consultations to deliberate on various issues on its agenda. Several open debates with participation at Head of Government or Ministerial level including debates on Afghanistan, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Liberia, Somalia and Timor Leste have also taken place.
Similarly, South Africa has actively participated in all activities of the UNSC in line with its national priorities. Our delegation in New York has made inputs to various UNSC discussions, including debates and consultations on draft resolutions, reports, presidential and press statements.
With regard to leadership roles in the Security Council, South Africa assumed the chairmanship of the UNSC 1540 Committee (on weapons of mass destruction and non-State actors). In our role as Chair, we oversaw the work of the four sub-committees of the 1540 Committee which; 1) monitored implementation by Member States of the resolution; 2) facilitate assistance that Member States may require in implementation; 3) facilitate cooperation with international organizations, as well as other Security Council committees and; 4) conduct media outreach activities and ensure transparency in the work of the committee. South Africa is also Chair of the UNSC Ad-Hoc Working Group on Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa and serves as Vice-Chair of the Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia Sanctions Committees.
The Security Council dedicates most of its energy and time focusing on peace and security matters on the African continent. In this regard, more than 70% of Security Council deliberations are centered around African conflict situations, while six of the UN’s fourteen peacekeeping operations and nearly 80% of its peacekeepers are deployed in the African continent, including MONUSCO, DRC (23,383 personnel) and UNAMID, Sudan (27,501 personnel). The UNSC has from the beginning of 2011 adopted more than 55 resolutions and 30 presidential statements out of which a majority are on Africa issue. Since the beginning of its membership on the UNSC, South Africa sought to promote the country’s national priorities the African Agenda.
As such, most of the policy positions adopted and pursued by the country since January 2011 were guided largely by African and AU positions on African conflicts. In this regard, South Africa continued to cooperate and work with other representatives of Africa on the UNSC (Nigeria and Gabon) to elevate the African agenda of achieving peace, security and development. However, the three African countries did not always adopt common positions or stance on African issues before the agenda of the Council.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As you are aware, South Africa served as the President of the Security Council for the month of January 2012. The Presidency of the UNSC affords the country an opportunity to leave a positive legacy of its two-year term in the Council. This is particularly important for the non-permanent members, this allows them an opportunity to highlight issues of national interest. In this context, the Presidency of the Security Council has the option of promoting a new or re-occurring theme of particular national, regional or international significance.
Accordingly, South Africa utilized its rotating presidency of the UNSC to continue a debate within the Security Council aimed at enhancing cooperation between the UN and the AU in the maintenance of international peace and security. This initiative was consistent with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter as well as the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document and Security Council resolution 1625 (2005) which underscore the need to enhance partnership between the UN and regional organisations in the prevention and peaceful settlement of disputes.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The country’s efforts aimed at bringing greater alignment to the work of both Councils is the intensification of the work South Africa had already undertaken in conflict prevention, resolution, management and post-conflict reconstruction and peace building in African countries such as Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi, the DRC and elsewhere.
In this regard, the South African delegation convened on 12 January 2012 a High Level debate on “Strengthening the relationship between the UN and regional organizations, in particular the AU, in the maintenance of international peace and security." The debate on 12 January was presided over by President Jacob Zuma and included participation of the UN Secretary-General, representatives of the AU and other members of the UNSC.
At the conclusion of the debate, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2033 (2012). Amongst others, this resolution reiterated the importance of establishing a more effective relationship between the AU Peace and UNSC, including in the area of conflict prevention, resolution and management, electoral assistance and regional conflict prevention offices. The resolution also encourages the improvement of regular interaction, consultation and coordination between the two bodies on matters of mutual interest.
Due to the collective work of South Africa, African members of the UNSC and like-minded countries in the UNSC, some progress has been achieved in enhancing and strengthening partnership between the AU and UN. Currently, the AU PSC and the UNSC convene annual meetings to deliberate on issues before their respective agenda. The two organs also collaborate on key peacekeeping missions and conflict situation including in the Sudan (UNAMID) and Somalia (AMISOM).
I am pleased to announce therefore that both the AU Commission and the UN Secretariat have made significant progress in terms of supporting operational deployments and long term capacity building as well as the desk-to-desk cooperation.
However, some challenges remain in efforts to strengthen the cooperation between the two organisations. More needs to be done at improving interaction, consultation and coordination between the two bodies on matters of mutual interest. As President Zuma argued during the UNSC debate on 12 January 2012,
“It is critical to build a stronger relationship in order to avoid the situation that occurred during the conflict in Libya last year, he said. The African Union had developed a political road map that would have helped resolve that country’s political conflict, but it was ignored in favour of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) bombing of Libya”.
During its remaining 12 months on the Security Council, South Africa will again endeavour to utilise its membership in a manner that would add value to the work of the Council. We will play an active role in the activities of the Security Council committees, working groups, commissions and other structures. Furthermore, South Africa will endeavour to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security by inter alia participating in the Council's conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction agenda.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Crucially, the country’s strategy will also entail promoting a culture of collective responsibility and collective responses in dealing with challenges of the contemporary world. South Africa will underscore and strive for enhanced Security Council cooperation with regional bodies and other relevant institutions in the realization of its mandate. Our country will also work with other like-minded member states towards improving the working methods of the Security Council to make it a more legitimate, representative and effective body in order to make it more transparent and accountable.
Resolution 2033 of 2012 seeks to strengthen UNSC with AU to promote the African Agenda to achieve peace and development on the African continent because we strongly believe that we cannot achieve peace without development and development without peace.
As we celebrate the Centenary of the oldest Liberation Movement in Africa, the African National Congress, we hope the political freedom we won will help us create a stronger AU at the face of the UN.
I hope that this address will stimulate more dialogue in search of some of the answers we need in order to strengthen our foreign policy trajectory, especially at the UN. Let us use this opportunity to engage frankly and openly on issues very closer to our hearts, no matter how thorny they may be. I am convinced that we will all leave this room refreshed, with more energy to confront the challenges that still face us. Let us gather our thoughts together in order to create a more vibrant South Africa in the UN.
I thank you all