Remarks by Ambassador Tebogo Seokolo on the occasion of South Africa’s election as Chair of the IAEA Board of Governors 2016-2017, 3 October 2016, Vienna, Austria
Fellow Board Members
Director General Amano
Excellencies and Distinguished Delegates
On behalf of South Africa, I wish to express our sincerest appreciation to the Members of the Board for elevating us to the Office of the Chair of the Board. I particularly wish to thank Member States of the African Group for assigning us the responsibility to execute this task on their behalf. I also congratulate the new Vice Chairs of the Board, whom I look forward to working with.
We extend our gratitude to the President of the 60th Session of the General Conference, Ambassador Othman of Malaysia and the Chair of the Committee of the Whole (CoW) Mr Cserveny of Hungary for bringing the Conference to a successful conclusion.
I would be remiss if I do not commend the outgoing Chairperson of the Board, Ambassador Vinhas of Brazil and his Vice Chairs, Ambassadors Dauble of Germany and Hasans of Latvia.
Ambassador Vinhas has been an outstanding Chairperson. He has discharged his duties with integrity and honour, greatly assisted by his abundant humour and warmth, which have all enabled him to assist the Board to resolve some of the difficult challenges which arose during his tenure. We assure you that we will build on your proud legacy and wish you well on your future endeavours.
Excellencies and Distinguished Colleagues
Our election as Chair of the Board comes at a critical moment in our country, the African Continent and the world in general. This year marks the 25th anniversary of South Africa’s accession to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the signing and the entry into force of our Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA) with the IAEA. It also marks the 20th Anniversary of the Treaty of Pelindaba, which created an African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, as a means towards the establishment of a nuclear-weapons-free world. Next year, in 2017 we will also join in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first nuclear weapon free zone; the Treaty of Tlatelolco in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The significance of the 60th anniversary of the IAEA has already been highlighted during the deliberations at the recent session of the General Conference. South Africa as a founding member of the IAEA attaches great importance to the mandate of the Agency. Over the past six decades the IAEA has made considerable progress in supporting Member States to achieve their development objectives through nuclear science and technology. The recent slogan of the IAEA ‘Atoms for Peace and Development’ resonates with the aspirations of all Member States, more especially those in the developing world.
In recent years, we have come to appreciate what nuclear science and technology can do to address challenges in areas such as human and animal health, food and agriculture, climate change and water resource management. In this regard, the Agency has a central role to play in the successful implementation and achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We reaffirm the centrality of the Technical Cooperation Programme as the main delivery vehicle through which the Agency supports the developmental objectives of Member States. I hope that the Programme and Budget that we will adopt in the coming months will continue to reflect this imperative.
The IAEA continues to make an important contribution to international peace and security. The IAEA is uniquely placed to coordinate international nuclear security efforts as well as in supporting Member States, upon request, to strengthen their national nuclear security frameworks. I commend the efforts of the two Co-Chairs of the Open-ended Working Group, Ambassador Song of the Republic of Korea and Ambassador Ayoko of Nigeria and encourage all Member States to continue to actively participate in the ongoing consultations on the Outcome Document for the forthcoming International Nuclear Security Conference.
There is a full agenda ahead of us over the next twelve months. Amongst others, we will be seized with the process to appoint the Director General of the Agency for the term 2018-2021.
In addition, consultations on the finalization of the Medium Strategic Framework are ongoing under the leadership of Ambassador Hasans. We hope that this process will be concluded soon.
Importantly, during the first half of 2017, we will also have to finalise the consultations on the Programme and Budget for 2018. The cooperation of all Member States will be crucial to this process.
Other important activities that will impact on the work of the Agency during South Africa’s tenure as Chair of the Board include, the 2017 Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century to be held in the United Arab Emirates and the International Conference on the IAEA Technical Cooperation Programme.
Next year preparatory work will also need to commence for the 2018 Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Science, Technology and Applications for Peaceful Uses. It is our wish that this Conference could also be used to unveil the renovated and modernized Nuclear Applications Laboratories in Seibersdorf. In this regard, I wish to appeal to all Member States to continue to contribute to the ReNuAL project.
As I conclude, I once more wish to thank you for entrusting us with the responsibility of presiding over the affairs of the Board for the coming period. I will depend on your advice, support and solidarity in carrying this historic mission.
I thank you
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