Remarks by Minister Naledi Pandor on the occasion of the Media Briefing on South Africa's participation in the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York from 24 – 30 September 2019

16 September 2019

Members of the media – Good Afternoon

In our last media briefing, ahead of the SADC Summit in Tanzania, we promised to regularly brief you on our international relations and cooperation work. This media briefing serves to fulfil that purpose.

The briefing focuses on South Africa’s participation in the upcoming 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 24 – 30 September 2019.

You are already aware that President Cyril Ramaphosa has delegated the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation to lead South Africa’s delegation to UNGA as the President wishes to concentrate on critical issues needing his attention in South Africa.

THE THEME

THE United Nation General Assembly’s theme for this year is “Galvanizing multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion," and was announced by the President-elect of the General Assembly (PGA), Mr. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande (Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN).

The theme of the PGA is timely and resonates with South Africa's seven priorities as outlined by President Ramaphosa during the State of the Nation Address on 20 June 2019. These are:

  • economic transformation and job creation;
  • education, skills and health;
  • consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services;
  • spatial integration, human settlements and local government;
  • social cohesion and safe communities;
  • building a capable, ethical and developmental State; and
  • a better Africa and the world.

The UN General Assembly General Debate affords Member States of the UN the opportunity to address issues of national, regional and international importance.  We will also utilise the opportunity to speak of the unfortunately tragic events of the past two weeks and to repeat our belief in African unity, peace and friendship. 

Our participation in UNGA will provide us with an opportunity to interact with our counterparts across the globe and to articulate South Africa’s perspective on the general assembly theme.

The delegation is made up of the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms. Barbara Creecy and the Minister in the Presidency, Mr. Jackson Mthembu.

The President has appointed a delegation that is consistent with our resolve to use resources maximally and curtail costs.

SOUTH AFRICA’S APPROACH TO UNGA74

We plan to use the upcoming UNGA74 to restate and affirm our commitment to multilateralism and the central role of the UN in the system of global governance. Our overarching strategic approach is predicated on the notion of an equitable, just and fair world order buttressed by a multilateral system that includes respect for international law.

SOUTH AFRICA'S PARTICIPATION IN THE GENERAL DEBATE

This year's General Debate will provide South Africa with an opportunity to provide an assessment of the current global and continental peace, security and development challenges, as well as to lay out our vision for the African Continent and the world; to articulate South Africa's objectives as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council from 2019 to 2020 our commitment to reform of them and to building on the late President Nelson Mandela's legacy of working towards a peaceful, just and prosperous world.

One of South Africa's strategic focus in international engagement is to defend and promote the primacy of institutions of global governance as the vehicles through which current challenges facing the international community including in the areas of peace and security, sustainable development, human rights and the reform of global governance could be resolved.

We will also highlight South Africa's role in the implementation of the African Union's (AU) Agenda 2063 and the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Furthermore, South Africa will argue for stronger and enhanced coordination between the AU and the UN especially in the resolution of conflicts in Africa.

UNGA74 coincides with the inaugural year of the Nelson Mandela Decade for Peace 2019-2028, which was adopted at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit in September 2018 as a contribution to the strengthening of multilateralism and a means of advancing the values and principles of Nelson Mandela, as well as those of the Charter of the United Nations.

South Africa will encourage all Member States and the international community to be guided by the Nelson Mandela Decade for Peace in their efforts to preserve multilateralism and to achieve peace, cooperation and respect for the principles and objectives of the Charter of the UN.

HIGH-LEVEL MEETINGS ON THE MARGINS OF UNGA74

On the margins of the General Debate, other UN-related High-level events have been scheduled and there will also be opportunities for bilateral meetings and side events in which the South African Ministerial delegation have been invited to participate. The following High-Level events have been confirmed:

  • 23 September 2019, High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage;
  • 23 September 2019, Secretary-General's Climate Action Summit
  • 24 and 25 September 2019, High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
  • 26 September 2019, High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development
  • 26 September 2019, High-Level Meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons;
  • 27 September 2019, High-Level Meeting to review progress made in addressing the priorities of Small Island Developing States through the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway.

Thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road
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