Remarks by Deputy Minister Fransman on the occasion of the Signing of the South Africa – United Nations Strategic Co-operation Framework (UNSCF): 2013-2017, Pretoria, South Africa, 26 February 2013

UN Resident Coordinator and the UNDP Resident Representative in South Africa, Dr. Zacarias,
Heads of UN Agencies in South Africa,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the conduct of our international relations, my Government is committed to garnering support for South Africa’s domestic priorities, promote the interests of the African Continent and promote sustainable development through regional and international co-operation. We believe that through participation in the multilateral system, especially the UN, its executive boards, commissions, subsidiary bodies and committees, a valuable contribution can be made to strengthen multilateralism and promote the development objectives of Africa and the developing countries of the South.

South Africa strongly supports a multilateral, rules-based system, as a means of achieving a better South Africa, contributing to a better and safer Africa, in a better world. South African foreign policy is informed and guided by Ubuntu and a commitment to the establishment of mutually beneficial international partnerships that contribute to the achievement of the national development priorities of our continental and international partners. Our struggle against poverty, inequality and unemployment is critical to the successful realization of the development aspirations that we have for ourselves, as well as for others. Our objective of a better life for all in South Africa is therefore closely intertwined with our struggle for a better Africa and a better world all.

The SA-UN Strategic Cooperation Framework (UNSCF), for the period 2013 to 2017, which we have just signed, is intended to respond to these challenges. It defines how the UN system, as represented by the UN Country Team (UNCT), can add value to and support South Africa in the implementation of the Government’s Programme of Action, addressing our development challenges.

The process for the development of the UNSCF was initiated by DIRCO in 2012, through a participatory process that involved various Government Departments, Provincial representatives and the UNCT. This process culminated in the identification of four key areas of co-operation between South Africa and the UN system, where the UN has a comparative advantage in being able to add real value, namely; Inclusive Growth and Decent Work, Sustainable Development, Human Capabilities, as well as Governance and Participation. These areas are informed by Government’s priority objectives, as reflected in the National Development Plan, the Medium Term Strategic Framework, the New Growth Path, the 2012 Millennium Development Goals Country Report and other key Government policy frameworks. We have high expectations that the SCF will provide a framework for cooperation that will enhance the contribution of the UN system to realization of this Vision.

We are conscious that no nation can provide for the welfare and wellbeing of its citizens in isolation. We are obliged to take into account the welfare and wellbeing of others. For South Africa, it is significant that the UNSCF is being signed at a time when we have just started serving another three-year term on the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). This is South Africa’s fourth term on the ECOSOC since our historic transition to democracy in 1994. ECOSOC provides a useful platform for developing a common understanding of current and emerging challenges and a consensus on approaches to address them through a strengthened multilateral system. One of the issues that is expected to dominate the ECOSOC agenda over the next few years is the discourse on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda, given the approaching target date of 2015 for the achievement of the Millennium Development goals (MDGs). South Africa will use its current term on the Council to actively contribute to policy coherence on development issues and an ECOSOC that is strengthened and further reformed to better meet evolving global challenges and the needs of developing countries. We will give priority to stressing the need for Member States to commit to accelerating progress towards achieving the MDGs. We will also work to ensure that the articulation of the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda is compatible with South Africa’s own development agenda, African Union aspirations and the development agenda of the South.

The SCF also draws upon the lessons learned from the Joint Evaluation Report on the Role and Contribution of the UN System in South Africa, which was conducted between September 2008 and March 2009. The Joint Evaluation assessed the relevance and effectiveness of cooperation between South Africa and the UN system and was forward looking, seeking to identify the “ideal” model for the relationship between South Africa and the UN system.  Some of the conclusions contained in the Report on the Joint Evaluation are quite sobering, both for Government as well as for the UN. Missed opportunities needed to be corrected on both sides. For the Joint Evaluation team at the time, it was evident that closer collaboration and coordination was required in order to maximize the mutual benefits of the relationship between South Africa and the UN system.

In signing this SCF today, we are building on the recommendations contained in the Joint Evaluation Report and strengthening our collaboration to help South Africa’s people to build a better life and a better future.

Let me also, on behalf of the South African Government,  extend my appreciation to Dr Zacarias and the entire UNCT for their co-operation and dedication in ensuring that the UNSCF: 2013-2017 is supportive of South Africa‘s development imperatives.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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