Statement by South Africa at the 525th Meeting of the Peace and Security Council on Peace, Justice and Reconciliation, Addis Ababa, 23 July 2015
Commissioner for Peace and Security,
Chairperson of the Peace and Security Council,
Distinguished Members of Council,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This delegation would like to, foremost, express its gratitude to the Chairperson of the Council for the month of July for providing Council the opportunity to deliberate on the complementarity of peace, justice and reconciliation which remains a very crucial matter for our continent, in promoting nation building and reconciliation in order to enable societies, especially in post conflict settings to heal, reconstruct and develop. In addition, the elements of peace, justice and reconciliation are essential measures for confidence building in societies emerging from conflict.
This delegation is of the view that the relationship between the demands of peace, post conflict stability, national cohesion, justice and accountability in societies emerging from conflict is a critical one. At the same, we are aware of the complexities that may arise when all these elements present themselves successively in a particular setting or society. Thus there may be a need to develop a structured approach which will enable prioritisation of activities in way that does not undermine activities in other areas. It is important that this be done through dialogue and engagement of all stakeholders in society including those directly affected. This will enable societies to decide for themselves how to sequence the different process.
We are saying this, taking into consideration our own experiences as a country/nation through the process of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and with the realisation that the solutions are not a clear one size fits all and there is no particular one model but that such processes can benefit from the different experiences and best practices on the continent. We have learnt the consequences of prioritising one area over another.
It is important to find the balance between the demands of peace, justice, accountability and reconciliation but it should be noted that there is no clear cut solution, but the processes related to peace, justice and accountability should be done in a way not to promote impunity or at the expense of justice. In this regard, we are of the assessment that various options of justice should be explored including retributive, restorative, transitional and others with the ultimate objective of assisting the process of healing and reconciliation.
On the question of when and how would international justice mechanism such as the International Criminal Court or the Criminal Chamber of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights be relevant and applicable, it is this delegation’s opinion that states should be empowered and capacitated to strengthen their national justice system to deal with matters of justice which must also take cognisance of the traditional systems that may already be in place. This also gives a sense of ownership which is an important factor that should always be considered when dealing with matters of peace, justice and reconciliation. The continent can thus borrow from the various examples on the continent including South Africa, Rwanda and Sierra Leone.
The African Union has developed instruments such as the Constitutive Act and others such as the AU Policy on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development as well as the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance that give expression to issues of peace, human rights, justice and reconciliation.
This delegation would like to recall that at its 409th meeting held on 18 December 2013, the PSC called for the early operationalisation of the AU Framework for Conflict Prevention including Strategy for National Reconciliation and a mechanism for its implementation. We believe that such a framework and strategy would aid in averting the eruption of conflict but will assist in addressing issues of national reconciliation in societies vulnerable to conflict.
We also believe that all efforts should be made to accelerate the finalisation of the AU Policy Framework on Transitional Justice as this would assist in guiding post conflict societies on transitional justice.
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