Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, on the occasion of the coordinated Briefing of the Chairs of the 1267/1989/1373 &1540 Committees, 20 May 2019
It is with deep regret that I must once again begin my remarks with expressing South Africa’s condolences, on this occasion to the people of Burkina Faso, who recently suffered an attack at a place of worship. This attack comes only weeks after the devastating attacks in New Zealand and Sri Lanka claimed so many innocent lives. Of course, we also condemn the terrible attack which has taken place in Egypt on Sunday.
The frequency of these barbaric, cowardly acts of terror lends even more urgency to our joint efforts to eradicate violent extremism and terrorism.
We thank the Chairs of the Committees that have briefed the Security Council today, for their informative briefings and capable stewardship of these important Committees.
Whilst the African continent has taken significant steps towards addressing many of the peace, security, governance and development challenges that we face, terrorism and violent extremism continue to present a serious threat to our joint efforts to uplift the continent and her peoples.
The two most recent bulletins of the African Centre for the Study & Research of Terrorism, which is an African Union research institution, provide alarming statistics of the nature of terrorism in Africa. The centre finds that from mid-March to mid-April 2019 Africa suffered 140 terrorist attacks, which claimed a staggering 841 lives.
We are also deeply concerned with reports of the spread of Islamic State (IS) affiliates throughout the African continent, as the remnants of the self-declared Caliphate seek new areas of operation and recruitment, in the wake of its territorial defeat in Iraq and Syria. We cannot allow these groups to exploit our peoples in spreading their poisonous, extremist, and murderous ideologies.
South Africa unequivocally condemns of all acts of terrorism, whatever form, for whatever reason, and wherever they may occur. We firmly believe that the fight against terrorism must be led by the United Nations as the most widely representative and appropriate international structure for coordinating action against this global challenge which threatens us all.
South Africa also places great emphasis on the need to address violent extremism and terrorism holistically, beginning with addressing conditions that influence vulnerable peoples, particularly the youth, to become radicalised and involved with terrorist organisations. Addressing the root causes of terrorism and violent extremism should be imperative in our fight against this scourge.
We also urge States to avoid the use of unilateral coercive measures in their counter-terrorism measures, and take all measures to protect civilians, as well as to ensure that counter-terrorism efforts do not negatively impact on the provision of humanitarian aid and medical assistance in conflict situations. All counter-terrorism measures must also abide by international law and respect international human rights.
We welcome the format of this joint briefing, which fulfils one of the core aims of the UN’s Office of Counter Terrorism (UNOCT) under the capable leadership of Under-Secretary-General Mr Vladimir Voronkov, which is to foster a “one UN approach” in addressing these common challenges.
South Africa fully supports this approach, and encourages identification of complementary mandates and aims, amongst the UN’s complex architecture, that can allow us to break down silos and merge our efforts towards greater gains. We therefore continue to support the efforts of the UNOCT to strengthen coordination and cooperation amongst the UN structures dealing with counter-terrorism.
We welcome the continuing work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee and its Executive Directorate in promoting cooperation in implementing the Global Counter-terrorism Strategy and the relevant Security Council resolutions. We also value the work being done in providing technical assistance to those states that request it, to facilitate Member States’ compliance with the relevant decisions of the Security Council.
South Africa remains of the view that in implementing our counter-terrorism obligations under the different Security Council resolutions, we should take into account the need for a Member State-driven agenda. Accordingly we recognise that it is up to each state to contextualise the threat in accordance with local conditions, also cognisant of regional and international dynamics. In countering these very threats it is critical that all counter-measures are relative to the threat being faced and Member States do not adopt a “one size fits all approach” but rather deal with threats on an individual basis.
Turning now to the 1540 Committee, allow me to state that Resolution 1540 is still one of the most critical instruments in preventing non-state actors from developing, acquiring, manufacturing, possessing, transporting, transferring or using nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery. In this sense, it is evident that there are important links between this Committee and resolution, and the UN’s Counter-Terrorism efforts, in ensuring that terrorist organisations never have access to the types of materials covered by resolution 1540.
To that end, South Africa welcomes the significant progress made towards the effective implementation of resolution 1540, and we renew our commitment to work with other members of the Committee to address the challenges that still remain, not least in terms of national implementation and assistance.
Furthermore, while dealing with the challenges of the Weapons of Mass Destruction, it is imperative that no unwarranted restrictions are imposed on the inalienable right of member states, particularly developing countries, to use any related materials, equipment and technologies for peaceful purposes. In that context, the opportunities provided by nuclear technologies for example in the implementation of the SDGs, particularly in the areas such as food security, public health technologies and clean energy cannot be overlooked.
South Africa’s experience with the implementation of resolution 1540 has demonstrated that financial and technical assistance is critically needed to ensure that developing countries are able to fully implement the resolution, especially on the continent where greatest attention is still devoted to issues of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment. We therefore call upon Member States in a position to upon request offer assistance to those in need. We must always bear in mind that the full and effective implementation of 1540 will only be realized through the strengthening of the weakest among us.
I thank you.
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