Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the Security Council Meeting on Kosovo, 10 June 2019

Mr President,

South Africa would like to thank the briefers for their informative statements.

South Africa welcomes the work of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), with support from the UN Kosovo Team and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Zahir Tanin, as well as the Secretary-General, whose efforts are playing a significant role towards creating an environment conducive to compromise, reconciliation and stability in Kosovo, as outlined in the latest report of the Secretary-General of 14 May 2019.

We wish to reiterate that the presence of the UN in Kosovo is critical towards reaching a peaceful and sustainable solution and in encouraging cooperation between all parties and stakeholders.

In this regard we wish to express regret and concern about the developments in northern Kosovo last week, which included the detention of two UN staff members by Kosovo Police during the course of their duties. We wish both staff members a speedy recovery as they are being treated for their injuries. We reiterate the importance of all UN personnel across the world who must be able to do their work in a safe environment, and in accordance with international law.

South Africa encourages Belgrade and Pristina to continue their efforts towards normalising relations, despite the challenges faced in finding a sustainable, peaceful, political solution.  We wish to reiterate the importance of the resumption of peace talks between the parties, in the spirit of cooperation and compromise, under the auspices of the European Union.

Mr President,

Allow me to make three brief points regarding the peace process in Kosovo in view of the challenges that remain for the resumption of talks between the parties.

Firstly, the escalated tensions between the parties and their differences regarding the conditionalities for the resumption of dialogue risk undermining any meaningful prospects for a successful dialogue and reconciliation.  These factors also deepen the divide and exacerbate feelings of mistrust regarding political will to engage in good faith. In this regard, we urge all parties to refrain from actions that further delay the peace process, and to allow for the normalisation of relations between them.

Secondly, South Africa wishes to echo the sentiments of the Secretary-General in his report, regarding continued engagement with all stakeholders such as the relevant authorities, civil society, and bilateral and international partners. The peace process should not only be led by the political leaders, but it should be informed by the local communities in Serbia and Kosovo, as both parties represent a diverse people in language, culture, heritage and history. This will play an important role to ensure active support for peacebuilding and inter-community trust-building efforts in Kosovo.

Mr President,

This brings me to my third and final point. The conflict between the parties has a significant impact on women and youth. We join the Secretary-General, in welcoming the effort by the UN in close cooperation with the European Union in Pristina to emphasise the involvement of women across all levels of political and decision-making processes during the Global Open Day on Women, Peace and Security. As indicated by Ulrika Richardson, UN Development Coordinator for Kosovo, “Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right; it is also a necessary foundation for a just and peaceful world.”

It is also our considered view that responses to address sexual-violence in conflict situations must include survivors in order for them to share their experiences and possible solutions. In this respect, we welcome the active involvement of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in finding solutions towards addressing their legal, social and institutional challenges as reflected in the Pristina Communiqué.

We also welcome the role of young people whose efforts illustrate the importance of an inclusive peace process. The third annual Kosovo Youth Assembly, in collaboration with the UN team in Kosovo, identified ways of empowering youth leadership across Kosovo and these much-needed initiatives can contribute to long-term solutions for peace for all.  

Mr President,

In conclusion, we hope that the spirit of compromise will be the foundation for negotiations towards an inclusive, fair political settlement that is acceptable to both sides.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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