Statement by Mr. Alvin Botes, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, on the General Debate of the Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) under the theme: “Promotion and consolidation of peace through respect for International Law,” Caracas, Venezuela, 20 July 2019
Ministers and Heads of Delegation,
We thank you for your kind and warm hospitality extended to us during our stay in Caracas.
We commend you on your stewardship since assuming the chairship of the Non-Aligned Movement in 2016.
The Movement, under Venezuela’s leadership, has played an important role in the promotion of peace and security and a reformed and strengthened multilateral system, with the United Nations (UN) at its centre.
At a time when multilateralism is under threat due to increasing unilateralism and the dismantling of multilateral agreements, it is important that our Movement continues to work together and take the lead in creating a just, peaceful and equitable world order and building global governance structures that are representative, credible and effective, based on partnership and cooperation.
This Ministerial Meeting convened under the theme: “Promotion and consolidation of peace through respect for international law,” is therefore timely and provides an opportunity to renew our Movement’s solidarity and collective endeavour for peace and prosperity in order to effectively respond to the myriad challenges we face today.
The theme of the Ministerial Meeting also complements other initiatives of the Movement in advancing the concept of multilateralism. In 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution sponsored by Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, which declared 24 April as “International Day on Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace.” This International Day is a reaffirmation of the Charter of the United Nations and its principles in resolving disputes among countries through peaceful means.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Venezuela for spearheading this initiative at the United Nations with a view to strengthening the principles of multilateralism.
The annual Nelson Mandela International Day, which we recently commemorated on 18 July, is also a reaffirmation of our commitment to multilateralism as we devoted ourselves to redoubling our efforts to building a just, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive and fair world, and to revive the values for which Nelson Mandela stood, by placing human dignity at the centre of our actions.
Although the world has changed significantly since the founding of the United Nations in 1945 and our Movement in 1961, lasting global peace eludes us to this day. We, therefore, have a responsibility to find sustainable solutions, to bring lasting peace, and to address threats to sustainable development, peace and security, including challenges to the primacy of multilateralism.
The Movement should be repositioned to be at the centre of global governance where the needs of our people are addressed. In terms of global governance, we must continue to assert the pre-eminence of the United Nations. The UN is the only universal, credible and legitimate institution of global governance where our Movement enjoys an undisputed majority.
We must resist efforts to divide us and use us as surrogates in battles, which seek only to advance the narrow parochial interests of the high and mighty and detract us from championing the needs of our people. The Movement must therefore redouble its efforts towards the reform of the UN and its main bodies.
Our vision of an ideal multilateral system is one based on representivity and legitimacy. South Africa has been a vocal proponent for the reform of the UN Security Council. Our two previous terms and our current tenure in the Council has convinced us that the reform of this principal organ of global peace and security is more urgent than ever before. We are of the firm view that the enlargement of the Security Council to reflect current realities will ensure that it is representative, democratic, and enjoys legitimacy. Failure to do so will encourage states to act unilaterally, with disastrous consequences for all.
South Africa reaffirms its call for an end to the unjust, unilateral economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba and Venezuela, which continue to stifle the economic and social development of these countries. These unilateral coercive measures go against our collective commitment to promoting international cooperation as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations.
As NAM member states we should also not be indifferent to the plight of those appealing for decolonization, independence, statehood and human rights. Therefore, our Movement’s solidarity and support for the people of Palestine and Western Sahara should give courage and impetus to their struggle for self-determination.
South Africa has observed, with concern, the enhanced tensions in the Gulf region and calls on all parties involved to exercise the utmost restraint and to forgo all means of unilateralism to resolve the tensions.
We believe in the centrality of multilateralism and view the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as an important diplomatic achievement in the preservation of non-proliferation. South Africa supports efforts, by the remaining signatories, to extend their fullest co-operation to ensure the durability and sustainability of the JCPOA.
In conclusion, Chairperson,
The best safeguard for our security and prosperity is to consolidate rather than erode the rule of law and embed the principles of cooperation over conflict and collaboration over confrontation. For us to ensure lasting peace through joint global governance, we need to strive to enhance our effectiveness as a Movement. We reiterate our firm commitment to multilateralism as the best way for states to resolve conflicts and other global challenges and to respect international institutions and agreements as a guiding principle in relations between Member States.
I thank you
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