Statement by the Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on the occasion of the General Assembly Debate on Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts in Africa.
MR PRESIDENT OF THE 67TH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, H.E Mr Vuk JEREMIC;
THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UN, H.E Mr Ban Ki Moon,
THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF EQUATORIAL GUINEA, H.E TEODORO OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO
SPECIAL ENVOY OF THE AFRICAN UNION CHAIR, H.E FORMER PRESIDENT PIERRE BUYOYA
FELLOW AFRICAN MINISTERS OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS PRESENT HERE;
AMBASSADORS PLENIPONTETIARY AND EXTRAORDINARIES,
DISTINGUISHED GUESTS; LADIES AND GENTLEMEN;
In a month’s time it will exactly be 50th years since our leaders formed the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). I would therefore like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to the President of the 67th Session of the UN General, HE Mr Vuk Jeremic, for prioritising Africa and practical demonstrating it by convening this special sitting of the General Assembly in the context of the 50th Anniversary of the OAU around the theme “Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts in Africa”.
We must also recognise the presence of former President of Burundi, HE Pierre Buyoya, representing the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
“Our objective is African union now. There is no time to waste. We must unite now or perish”, so said the first President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah at the founding conference of the OAU in 1963.
That was true then as it is today. As Africans we look back with pride at the journey we have traversed in the past Fifty Years since the formation of the OAU. In 1945 when this important World Body the United Nations was founded almost the entirety of the African Continent was under Colonial rule. Today we stand here, 67 years later, the African Continent is almost free from Colonialism. It is for this reason that the leadership of the Continent has collectively agreed on “Pan Africanism and African Renaissance” as the overarching theme for the celebration of the OAU/AU Golden Jubilee.
Fifty years ago when the OAU was formed, Africa was a continent emerging from centuries of slavery and colonialism. Today we stand here to speak of a different Africa, a continent of hope, future and opportunities. We speak of an Africa that is rising. Seven of the ten fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa.
The United Nations was itself a centre of gravity for the decolonisation of the African Continent, thanks to the adoption of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the General Assembly in 1960.
This world body stood by our side during the difficult years of the struggle against apartheid until when we were re-admitted as a member under the leadership of former President Nelson Mandela.
The Theme you have chosen for this debate is very important. It speaks to challenges facing Africa in the 21st century. We have committed ourselves as Africans to the Peaceful resolution of all outstanding conflicts on the Continent. It is not gainsaying to mention the fact that the number and intensity of Conflicts on the Continent have substantially decreased in the past decade since the formation of the African Union with its Peace and Security Architecture.
Today the sister people of Burundi are enjoying Peace, Stability and democracy as a result of efforts of the African Union and Africans in general with the support of all Partners, key being the UN.
The peaceful resolution of the Sudan Conflict, one of the longest and bloodiest in our Continent, and the peaceful secession of the State of South Sudan two years ago bore to testimony to the commitment of our people to peaceful resolution of all conflicts in the Continent. In this regard we continue to encourage both the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to scrupulously implement to the letter and spirit the Agreements that they have so far concluded on the outstanding issues.
We are doing all we can to assist the sister people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to resolve all the challenges they have been facing for the past Fifty Years. We are pleased with the progress that is being made and we are optimistic that very soon the people of the Congo will enjoy Stability, Peace and Prosperity.
In Somalia, significant progress has been made since the African Union got seized with the situation with the support that the United Nations, the UNSG, and other Partners.
Today, even as Africa is rising, there are new challenges and conflicts on our continent; we therefore need to continue to address the root causes of these conflicts. The majority of African current conflicts in Africa can be classified as intra-state, and trans-national. This is linked to the need to reinforce democratic and governance institutions as well as economic development, which is a vital component of conflict prevention and resolution.
Our experience of the past Fifty Years has confirmed that there cannot be Peace without Development, and vice versa. The African Union has adopted NEPAD as blueprint for the Socio-Economic Development of the Continent.
As Africans, we recognise that we need to refine our instruments to deal with unconstitutional changes of government and dissuade the emerging pattern of illegitimate rebellions being transformed into legitimate partners in governments of national unity.
We have to redouble our efforts to detect potential conflict situations before they erupt. The development and strengthening of early warning systems is therefore a priority.
More than Seventy (70%) Per cent of the Agenda of the United Nations Security Council mirrors that of the AU Peace and Security Council given that all those issues are African issues. It is for this precise reason that we continue to strongly believe that there should be a close cooperation, coordination and consultation between the AUPSC and the UNSC in accordance with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter and the Resolution 2033 of the UNSC.
We have already seen positive steps taken since the adoption of UNSC Resolution 2033 in January 2012 on the situation in Sudan and South Sudan as well as in Mali, in which the UNSC endorsed the decisions of the AUPSC. A lot still has to be done in this area and the African Union stands to work and cooperate with the United Nations on all matters of International Peace and Security in Africa. We are conscious of the primary responsibility of the UNSC in terms of the UN Charter on maintenance of International Peace and Security, however a similar emphasis should be placed on Chapter VIII, which inspired UNSC Resolution 2033.
It will be a travesty of justice to discuss the Peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa and the role of the United Nations Security Council without making reference to the need for the institution to be reformed. We reiterate the call made in the 2005 Summit for the speedy reform of the Security Council and reaffirm our long held view that the reform should be comprehensive and include expansion in both categories of membership, both permanent and non-permanent. The position of Africa is very clear; Africa should at least be allocated two seats in a reformed Security Council. The debate has been going on for far too long and the time for action is now. The General Assembly under your leadership, Mr President, has to do the right thing and urgently seize this historic opportunity before the 70th anniversary of the UN in 2015. We call on the Intergovernmental Negotiations to move quickly to a text based negotiations during this 67th session.
We are aware that the post-2015 United Nations Development Agenda has become a major issue in the UN system. It is our view that this should not distract from the attainment or financing of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the remaining period prior to 2015. The MDGs provide a very clear way to measure progress for the poorest, and there has been significant progress on all the key MDGs in countries across the globe, including in Africa.
It is important that any debate on the post-2015 UN Development Agenda ensures that all previous international agreements are honoured, particularly in fulfilling obligations on the Means of Implementation. We further believe that it must address inequality in all areas, and address social and economic development as well as environmental protection in a balanced manner.
As we begin our journey to the centenary of the African Union in 2063 we call on all our Friends and Partners to join us towards a better and prosperous Africa, at peace with herself.
Former President Nelson Mandela aptly captured this when he said during his first address to the OAU in 1994, that (and I quote):
“When the history of our struggle is written, it will tell a glorious tale of African solidarity, of African`s adherence to principles. It will tell a moving story of the sacrifices that the peoples of our continent made”. (close quote)
In the same spirit, Mr President, we fully support the Political Declaration to be adopted by the General Assembly at the conclusion of this debate.
I thank you!