Keynote Address by Dr Naledi Pandor, MP, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation at the Graduation Ceremony: South African Women’s Capacity Building Programme on Conflict Resolution, Mediation and Negotiation, Thursday, 8 August 2019, 10h30-12h30
Mr Paal Bjφrnestad from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Pretoria
Colleagues from DIRCO
Ladies & Gentlemen,
I am pleased to have the opportunity of welcoming you all to this graduation ceremony. I have been told that the graduates had a very informative and exciting programme during this capacity building programme, and I am hoping that the experience has been empowering and fulfilling.
Allow me to congratulate you on completing the Capacity Building Programme on Conflict Resolution, Mediation and Negotiation. This is a special year for the Department and this programme, given that we are celebrating the 5th year of hosting the Gertrude Shope Annual Dialogue Forum. This makes you part of a special group of women.
The programme has served as a very important resource for DIRCO in that it provides innovative training opportunities. It is therefore my hope that our graduates present here will leave today with a new set of knowledge and skills. But more than that, I am hoping that you will have found renewed vigour to go and apply the knowledge and skills that you have learned during the past few days. Our beautiful country need all of us to intentionally wanting to make a difference, and then act on that.
One of the famous quotes of the late Nelson Mandela, our first democratically elected President of South Africa has often served as encouragement for continued action to resolve difficult challenges, he is known to have said;
“It always seems impossible until it’s done”.
The intention of this programme is to support the emergence of a growing number of peace makers in South Africa. Yes, it might look difficult at the beginning, but you will see what a difference you can make if you understand that your energy could contribute to making a huge transformation in the lives of many others. South Africa needs renewed efforts to secure the “New Dawn” that President Ramaphosa has invited all of us to be part of.
Obviously a week’s training will not make you a professional mediator or negotiator. I am, however, certain that with the programme you attended, you have learned much about yourself, and were able to see what progress you have made, and could make, in the future. A willing approach to make a difference could go a long way.
You have learned through the past week that conflict in itself is not necessarily bad or negative. The importance lies in what you do with that conflict, and how you could use that to resolve difference of opinion or views. Everybody should be familiar with our South African motto of “Unity in Diversity”, which inherently means that we accept that we could differ from one-another, but our South Africaness should unite us.
At the same time we know that conflict around the globe is real, and we need to face a variety of challenges that affects millions of people around the world. Issues that leaders are grappling with include how to deal with the consequences of accelerated climate change, with its obvious implications for livelihoods and food security. The continued scourge of violent extremism and terrorism. Transnational organised crime and trafficking in small arms and light weapons, but also human and drug trafficking remains serious challenges, even to the African continent.
At Continental level we are trying to address these issues. African leaders during the 9th Annual High-Level Retreat of Special Envoys and Mediators on the Promotion of Peace, Security and Stability in Africa, which was convened in Accra, Ghana, from 25 to 26 October 2018, amongst others, decided, to request the AU Commission to:
- Continue assisting Member States to increase their the capacities to analyses, prevent and respond to peace and security challenge, and
- Further strengthen conflict prevention and mediation as cross-cutting and collaborative activities.
It is my view that through the capacity training programme you attended, including the Gertrude Shope Global Annual Dialogue Forum, you will recognise DIRCO’s contribution to increase the capacity of our citizens to deal with conflict, in particular to prevent it. DIRCO has through the Programme and Forum created an environment where you as participants, and as leaders in your own communities and working environment, could learn not only from the presenters, but from one another about better ways to equip yourself in dealing with conflict.
During your training and while attending the Gertrude you have heard many things about UN Security Council Resolution 1325, and other global/ continental instruments that have been agreed to, or established. You would have learned that South Africa is taking its role seriously in terms of Resolution 1325, and of Agenda 2063, in particular our commitment to resolve conflict and to allow women to play a key role in resolving our challenges. You know that South Africa, as Non-Permanent Member of the UN Security Council will Chair the Security Council in October this year, and we made it clear that promoting the Women Peace & Security (WPS) Agenda is high on our priority list. This is simply because South Africa acknowledges the role that women can play in making the world a better place to live in.
As I mentioned at the beginning, please note, that you are now part of that team. You are now part of a bigger South African team that wishes to make the world a better place for all who live in it. Don’t be shy, don’t doubt yourself. Don’t be arrogant or complacent either. Continue with your journey to better yourself. Continue to understand the challenges that face us, first as South Africans, but also as global citizens. We as women have a role to play, and we need to do it.
Despite the improvement Government made since 1994, we all know that we still have mountains to climb to ensure that all South Africans live in an environment that is safe and allow all to work, live and move freely. President Ramaphosa coined the phrase “Thuma Mina” to invite all South Africans to take responsibility for our country and challenged all of us to be ready to go and make a difference.
I would like to echo that call once again today. It is my deepest hope that all of you would intentionally decide to go back to where you came from with a recognition that you can and will make a difference. Through the contacts that you have established, the knowledge that you obtained and because of you are as women, I am hopeful that you will accede to this call, and deliberately avail yourself to go and make your community, your department, your city, your province and your country, South Africa, a better place.
Lastly allow me to thank on behalf of the Department all the presenters that contributed to the successful capacity training programme, each one made a meaningful contribution, for which we are grateful. I trust that we can call on them again next year!
Director-General Mahoai already thanked the Branch DTRD and its officials for the hard work done to ensure all the programme runs smoothly. I would like to echo that sentiments and to recognize the hard work they have put in to ensure that you as participants were able to join, some by plane, others by road, and for their coordination to allow the capacity building programme, the graduation and the Gertrude Shope Annual Dialogue Forum, to be successful.
Once again, congratulations, and may you grow in your success to make a difference where you are.
I thank you.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road