Statement by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Ebrahim Ebrahim, on international developments, 20 November 2013, OR Tambo Building, Pretoria

Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media.

Today we will focus on (1) the Deputy President’s Working Visit to the People’s Republic of China, (2) the UN Security Council’s reaction to a decision made by the last AU Extraordinary Summit and (3) the outcomes of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held recently in Sri Lanka.

1. DEPUTY PRESIDENT’S VISIT TO CHINA

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe undertook a Working Visit to Beijing, People’s Republic of China, from 27 to 30 October 2013, to co-chair the 5th Bi-National Commission between the two countries, with his counterpart Vice President Li Yuanchao.

The Deputy President was accompanied by the Ministers of Public Service and Administration, Mineral Resources, and Tourism, together with the Deputy Ministers of Trade and Industry, Energy and myself as the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, as well as senior officials from the relevant Departments.

The visit coincided with the commemorations of the 15th anniversary of diplomatic relations between South Africa and China.

In terms of bilateral relations, South Africa and China acknowledged the importance of the Bi-National Commission’s mechanism in implementing the Beijing Declaration on the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership entered into in 2010.

During the BNC, we witnessed the signing of two Agreements, exploring cooperation in the fields of tourism, and of human resources and training. These were signed by the responsible Ministers of Tourism and of Public Service and Administration with their Chinese counterparts.

South Africa encouraged Chinese support for increased trade in value-added products and beneficiation of minerals at source to support South Africa’s industrial development and diversification. The Chinese side requested South Africa to positively consider discussions around a proposed MOU on currencies swap for enhanced investment engagements.

The Meeting also discussed infrastructure development projects at length. It was agreed that cooperation in this field be strengthened in order to fully tap the potential of South Africa.

Issues relating to the African continent as well as international affairs were also discussed. The common view held on matters related to conflicts and other challenges is that these should be resolved through inclusive dialogue and non-military intervention.

2. REACTION BY THE UNSC TO THE AU REQUEST

On the matter of the relationship between the African Union and the International Criminal Court, you may recall that an Extraordinary Summit of the African Union met in October 2013 in Addis Ababa to consider all concerns of the AU relating to its relationship with the ICC, including the deferral of the Kenyan and the Sudan cases.

At the Extraordinary Summit, the AU decided to set up a Contact Group of the Executive Council to be led by the Chairperson of the Council (Ethiopia) composed of five members, one per region (Rwanda, Mauritania, Namibia, Uganda), to undertake consultations with the members of the UN Security Council, in particular its Five Permanent members with a view to engaging with the UNSC on all concerns of the AU and its relationship with the ICC.

The Summit also requested African State Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC, in particular the members of the Bureau of the Assembly of State Parties (ASP), to inscribe on the agenda of the session of the ASP the issue of indictment of African sitting Heads of State and Government by the ICC and its consequences on peace, stability and reconciliation in African Union member states.

Accordingly, the matter of the deferral resolution in terms of Article 16 of the Rome Statutes was put to the vote by the UN Security Council (UNSC) on 15 November 2013 in New York. The outcome of the Security Council was as follows: Security Council has rejected the Article 16 request, with 7 in favour and 8 abstentions.

Following the outcomes thereof, South Africa will be guided by the African Union as it was stipulated by the Summit Decision. At the same time, the meeting of ASP is currently taking place in The Hague and, as such, the outcomes would determine whether African Heads of State and governments would have to reconvene in order to decide on what action to take going forward.

3. OUTCOMES OF THE CHOGM

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) took place in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 15 to 17 November 2013 on the theme “Growth with Equity: Inclusive Development”.

The CHOGM was attended by 50 countries and represented by 27 Heads of State or Government and concluded with the adoption of a customary Communiqué.  In addition,  Heads also agreed on the adoption of the Colombo Declaration on Sustainable, Inclusive and Equitable Development, the Kotte Statement on International Trade and Investment and the Magampura Declaration of Commitments to Young People.

The 2013 Communiqué focused, inter alia, on development issues, the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Post-2015 Development Agenda, climate change and climate finance, strengthening relations with the G20; political values such as democracy, the rule of law and human rights; the issue of child early and forced marriages; small states and small states debt; youth, social development issues as well as the small arms and light weapons trade.

With regard to the cross-border movement of Commonwealth citizens, Heads requested that a Working Group of officials be created to consider the issue and report back at the 2015 CHOGM to be held in Malta.

Heads agreed that the following countries will serve on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) for the next two year period: Cyprus, Guyana, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka (ex-officio as Chair in Office) and Tanzania. Tanzania will Chair while New Zealand was elected as Vice-Chair.

On the last day of the meeting President Zuma, offered South Africa’s experience with the Truth and Reconciliation process to assist with the issues of post-conflict accountability in Sri Lanka.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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