Remarks by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Hon. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on the occasion of the media briefing on international developments, 15 July 2015, OR Tambo Building, Pretoria
Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media,
Today we will share with you information on three main issues:
- South Africa’s role as Chair of the AU Peace and Security Council;
- Outcomes of the 7th BRICS Summit; and
- Developments relating to the sanctions on Iran
1. South Africa’s role as Chair of the AU Peace and Security Council
South Africa was elected at the January 2014 Summit of the African Union held in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, to serve on the AU Peace and Security Council with effect from April 2014. This followed the election of South Africa as the Chair of the SADC Organ on Peace, Defense and Security. These joint roles have seen our country participating in numerous crucial initiatives to promote peace, security and stability on the continent.
During this month of July 2015, South Africa is Chair of the AU Peace and Security Council. During this period, the AUPSC is focussing on the following, amongst other priorities:
We need to work harder to strengthen the relations between the AUPSC and UN Security Council (UNSC) by improving the levels of consultation and coordination between the two, in line with Resolution 2033 of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Improved coordination and consultation between the two bodies will result in increased support from the UN for AU peace-keeping operations.
Operationalisation of the ACIRC
We will continue to promote the operationalisation of the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC), the precursor to the African Standby Force (ASF), by amongst other things, encouraging a greater number of countries to volunteer resources to it. This is a force that should evolve into a critical element that helps us stabilise and keep the peace on the continent, and it is noteworthy that Field Training Exercise Amani Africa II will be held later this year in South Africa, in conjunction with ACIRC.
Post-Conflict, Reconstruction and Development (PCRD)
Many countries on the continent where conflicts have ended or abated have, sadly, relapsed into conflict. This has been occasioned by many factors, of which an important one has been the absence of meaningful Post-Conflict, Reconstruction and Development (PCRD).
We think it is important that the continent’s capacities to intervene in post-conflict countries needs to be significantly improved, so that the peace dividend is not only enjoyed by people on the ground, but is also consequently defended.
2. Outcomes of the 7th BRICS Summit
His Excellency President Jacob Zuma, accompanied by a delegation of six cabinet ministers and representatives of business, attended the Seventh BRICS Summit which was held from 8-9 July 2015 in the city of Ufa in the Russian Federation. The theme for the Summit was “BRICS Partnership: A Powerful Factor of Global Development”.
It is important to recall that BRICS member countries play an important role in the global economy, with an aggregate GDP exceeding 32 trillion US Dollar, which is a 60 percent growth since the foundation of BRICS and which accounts for almost 30 percent of global GDP.
BRICS countries produce a third of the world’s industrial products and one half of agricultural goods. The BRICS human resources base constitutes 43 percent of the global population. Intra-BRICS trade has grown by 70 percent since 2009. BRICS countries attracted 20, 5 percent of global total direct investment in 2014 compared to only 16, 9 percent in 2009. The share of BRICS capital investment on the global markets has also increased significantly from 9, 7 percent to 14 percent.
At the Summit, the BRICS Leaders announced that their respective domestic ratification processes for the establishment of the New Development Bank and Contingent Reserve Arrangement were concluded. The first meeting of the New Development Bank’s Board of Governors took place on 7 July 2015 in Moscow, marking an important milestone in operationalizing the Bank.
The BRICS Finance Ministers have concluded the process of appointing the new President of the Bank, the Vice Presidents and the Board of Directors. President Zuma congratulated the new President of the Bank, Mr Kamath, together with his Vice Presidents, amongst whom is South Africa’s Mr Leslie Maasdorp, and assured them of our support for this critically strategic endeavour to fast track infrastructure development for BRICS countries, as well as other developing countries. The non-Executive Directors were also appointed. Amongst them is South Africa’s Mr Tito Mboweni, former Governor of the South African Reserve Bank.
President Zuma provided an update on the progress that has been made towards opening the New Development Bank African Regional Centre (ARC). A temporary location for the regional office has been identified in Johannesburg. Among its first priority tasks will be the facilitation of the early identification of the projects to be considered for funding by the Bank. It is well known that one of the key constraints to accelerated infrastructure development is the absence of bankable projects which can attract funding from private and public sources of finance. It is for this reason that South Africa recommended that project preparation to be the main focus of the ARC.
The Leaders also expressed their appreciation with the conclusion and signing of the Inter-Central Bank Agreement, an important step toward operationalizing the Contingent Reserve Arrangement. The implementation of the CRA adds to the toolkit of international financial safety nets. BRICS Leaders further agreed that other widely used financial safety nets, such as swap lines, will be further explored.
The key outcome documents for the Summit that Leaders adopted included the Ufa Declaration and the Ufa Action Plan, as well as the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership. The Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership is aimed at the further deepening of trade and investment ties within BRICS, through increasing value-added exports as well as promoting investments into each other’s economies.
Industrial cooperation and investments in the areas of manufacturing and mineral processing would be vital to unlock economic growth in our countries. The next step in terms of its implementation is the development of a Road Map for the period until 2020 to reflect joint collaborative economic, trade and investment initiatives.
3. Developments relating to the sanctions on Iran
The South African Government welcomes the announcement on 14 July 2015 that a Final Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was agreed between the P5+1 and Iran on outstanding matters regarding the Iranian nuclear program and supports the full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
This historic Agreement is testament to the success of a negotiated and diplomatic solution, to which South Africa had steadfastly and continuously lent its full support.
We further welcome the announcement that the International Atomic and Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran had concluded a roadmap to resolve outstanding issues regarding Iran's nuclear programme by the end of 2015.
In association with the position of the Non-Alignment Movement, we welcome the lifting of unilaterally imposed sanctions on Iran and further reiterate support for Iran’s inalienable right to the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
We look forward to the resumption of normal bilateral economic and trade relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran once sanctions have been lifted.
I thank you
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road