Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the Security Council Meeting on the “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Conflict Prevention and Mediation”, 12 June 2019

Mr President,

It is good to see you back in the chair, presiding over our work in the Council.

We thank the delegation of Kuwait for convening the debate on this very important matter. We also thank Secretary-General António Guterres along with Ms Mary Robinson, the Chairperson of the Elders, as well as Former Secretary-General and Deputy Chairperson of the Elders, Mr Ban Ki-moon, for their briefings.

Mr President,

The promotion of the peaceful resolution of conflicts is a cornerstone of South Africa’s own foreign policy. This is borne out of our historical experiences in successfully and peacefully transitioning from our colonial past to a constitutional democracy based on respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. It is through this spirit and commitment that we seek peaceful resolution mediation for challenges and crisis in Sudan, South Sudan, Venezuela, CAR and other conflicts around the world. We believe so because mediation brings about reconciliation, less destruction, killings and displacement.

In the words of South Africa’s former President and statesman, Nelson Mandela, “All conflicts, no matter how intractable, are capable of peaceful resolution” South Africa thus supports the promotion of peaceful resolution to conflict, through mediation, peace-making, peace-building and reconstruction efforts.

We believe that UN Peacekeeping should not be a means to an end but instead complement these essential tools of peace-making.

Mr President,

Resolving disputes peacefully, mediation, ceasefire monitoring and assisting in the implementation of peace accords should be the hallmark of the United Nations approach to resolving conflict. It is important to remind ourselves that the prevention of conflict remains the primary responsibility of States. Actions undertaken within the framework of conflict prevention by the UN should support and complement conflict-prevention roles of national Governments. 

In this regard, the Council should strengthen its own instruments for the pacific settlement of disputes in accordance with Chapter VI of the UN Charter. Before considering the use of force under Chapter VII, we must consider a peaceful political solution to conflict as envisaged in Chapter VI.

Article 33 of this Chapter of the Charter specifically states that parties to a dispute shall “first of all” seek a solution through political means including negotiation and mediation. Settlement of disputes through these means has the added advantage of assisting parties to a conflict to recognise and address the root causes of conflict and embark on negotiations, thereby fostering a spirit of trust and cooperation.

Mr President,

South Africa believes that cooperation and coordination among the United Nations and regional and sub-regional organizations could play an important role in conflict prevention. In this regard, the African Union and the United Nations undertook to enhance collaboration, cooperation and coordination in the search for sustainable solutions to ongoing and future challenges and to respond early, coherently and decisively to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts.

In this regard, South Africa calls for enhanced strategic and operational coordination of conflict prevention, resolution and mediation efforts by the UN, AU, the RECs and other international and local actors. Such efforts should be aimed at strengthening the efficacy of conflict prevention and resolution efforts and to support African-led peace and security solutions based on subsidiarity and comparative advantage.

Mr President,

For its part the African Union Commission has operationalized the AU Mediation Support Unit (MSU) in mid-March 2019. The AU Commission has devoted efforts towards the strengthening of the MSU, including though capacity building on mediation, as well as mainstreaming of gender in mediation.

In addition, the AUC is also spearheading efforts to institutionalise mediation doctrine in the Commission and the process of validating and adopting an advanced Mediation Training Module for the AU is underway.

The recent operationalization of the AU Peace Fund will further boost the AU’s capacities and efforts in mediation and conflict prevention.  The Peace fund is structured around three thematic windows, which are Mediation and Preventive diplomacy, Institutional Capacity and Peace Support operations. In this regard, the AU Member States should be commended for their efforts in contributing to the Peace Fund, whose endowment currently stands at USD 115 million.

Mr President,

The role of women and the youth in peacebuilding and mediation cannot be emphasised enough. It is common knowledge that where women are involved in peace processes such processes are more sustainable and effective.

In particular, we believe the Security Council should commit greater support for the development of female mediators, and specifically women from countries and regions affected by conflict. Without adequate representation of women in these efforts, the credibility of these processes is undermined. We are confident that the greater representation of women in mediation efforts will correspond to greater chances of success. 

In Conclusion, we believe a comprehensive, integrated and coordinated approach to conflict prevention should include addressing the root causes of conflicts, strengthening political processes and respect for the rule of law, as well as the promotion of sustainable and inclusive development.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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