Statement by Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, during the Security Council Briefing on Peace and Security in Africa: Partnership to strengthen Regional Peace and Security, 26 September 2019

Minister Lavrov,

We thank you for convening this meeting. We appreciate the useful briefings from Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission and Ambassador Maria Luiza Viotti, the Chef de Cabinet to the UN Secretary General.

Mr President,

We are pleased that the Russian Federation has included on the agenda of the Security Council this important briefing on partnerships to strengthen regional efforts to achieve peace and security in Africa. This is a timely and pertinent debate as the majority of the Security Council’s work is dominated by conflict situations on the African Continent. This debate thus affords us a unique opportunity to reflect on efforts to resolve conflicts in Africa, including by African countries themselves, as well as through partnerships with Continental and external role-players.

Mr President,

At the outset, we must acknowledge the positive strides made by the countries of the Continent in realising the African Union’s aspirations to silence the guns by 2020, and in pursuing African solutions to problems in Africa. This has led to the resolution of long-standing conflicts that have plagued the Continent.

Since the transition from the Organisation of African Unity to the African Union in 2000, the Continent has developed a strong and effective framework for addressing security challenges and threats to Africa. These frameworks have cascaded to sub-regional levels creating a synergy between the AU and the regional mechanisms for conflict prevention, management and resolution. Through the success of these initiatives, the Continent has made significant strides in reducing violent and armed conflicts guided by the principles of subsidiarity and complementarity between the AU and the sub-regional organisations. These efforts reflect the strong resolve of African leaders to ensure continental ownership and solutions for Africa’s challenges.

Mr President,

Despite the progress made, the challenges facing the Continent are complex and many, involving multiple crosscutting issues. These include the building of peace and security; Promoting inclusive socio-economic development and resilience; Promoting access to resources and economic opportunity; and Promoting and entrenching democracy and good governance, amongst others.

Historically, some of the contributing factors for instability and insecurity on the African Continent include poverty, marginalisation, inequality, unemployment, failure to manage diversity, governance, the scramble for natural resources, external interference, and recently the impact of climate change.

Furthermore, an upsurge in terrorism, violent extremism and inter-communal violence has perpetuated instability in some parts of the Continent taking advantage of the vacuum created by continued conflict, poverty and inequality. Coercive and often unconstitutional changes in governments through military adventurism have also served to degrade social capital and the economies of countries, resulting in widespread violence and humanitarian crises.  The impact of these challenges is not only felt on the Continent but reverberates to other countries and regions. Thus, concerted efforts and partnerships are needed to deal with these complex threats, including understanding the conditions that give rise to them.

Consequently, for Africa to experience sustainable peace and prosperity, the achievement of the continental aspiration envisioned in the AU’s Agenda 2063 and the UN’s Agenda 2030 for sustainable development is required.

Mr President,

The United Nations is making a considerable contribution to assist regional and sub-regional organisations in Africa to resolve conflict situations primarily by deploying its envoys and peacekeepers, as well as by the valuable work of the UN development system. The men and women in blue helmets are the most recognisable symbol of the UN, and should be seen as a bastion of hope earning the trust of the people affected by these various crises.

For its part, the African Union and its sub-regional organisations have demonstrated leadership by reacting rapidly to maintain peace and security on the Continent drawing on their close proximity to the situations, and the ability to comprehend internal and regional political dynamics.

Mr. President, since the onset of our democratic government, South Africa has been an active player in the United Nations and African Union.  In recognising the importance of these multi-lateral institutions, South Africa has contributed significant resources to both institutions. We have consistently been one of the biggest financial contributors to the AU and we are also a major contributor to UN Peacekeeping missions.  This includes our past deployments to the UN/AU Hybrid Mission in Darfur and in Burundi as well as our current significant presence in the DRC, where our troops are part of the highly effective Force Integration Brigade to build peace in our region.

South Africa has further supported peace-building in Africa through support for political processes.  This includes investment in, and support for mediation work, inclusive of women as leaders in peace-keeping and peace building.

Mr President,

Over the last few years, there have been significant efforts to strengthen the relationship between the United Nations and regional organisations, in particular the African Union. The Council has concretised this cooperation through the adoption of landmark resolutions, which recognise the strategic value of such cooperation by promoting the principle of comparative advantage, complementarity and burden sharing. In this regard, and to advance this cooperation South Africa spearheaded, during its previous terms in the Security Council, the adoption of two resolutions, namely resolution 1809 in 2008 and resolution 2033 in 2012.

However, given the diversity of threats to peace and security on the Continent, more needs to be done to strengthen this partnership between the UN and the AU in achieving its aspirations of a conflict free and prosperous Continent.

A key area pertaining to strengthening this relationship is the financing of AU-led peace support operations. It is unfortunate that despite commitments to this effect, there has not been much progress on the predictable and sustainable funding for AU-led peace support operations from UN assessed contributions.

Mr President,

Another area of importance that deserves more attention is the need for effective measures for transitions and drawdowns from peacekeeping to post-conflict reconstruction and development. It is important that efforts are coordinated and harmonised by all relevant stakeholders to ensure that peacebuilding activities are effective, and that the peace dividends of these operations are consolidated.

The UN Peacebuilding Commission and the AU Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) Framework should work together to provide assistance to post-conflict countries as requested by these countries. National ownership and leadership is pertinent for the success of peacebuilding efforts, and most importantly to prevent countries from relapsing back into conflict.

We would furthermore like to underline the imperative of involving women, on an equal footing in peace and security processes. This is not only limited to countries in conflict but includes all UN Member States, in order to ensure the prominent role of women in issues discussed in the Security Council. The inclusion of the youth in these processes is also necessary.

These provisions are not merely for the sake of gender parity within the pursuit of peace and security, but are a necessary requirement for more sustainable and effective peace, security and development on the Continent.  

To conclude, Mr President,

South Africa is of the firm view that partnerships for the pursuit of peace and security in Africa can only succeed, provided that all partners complement each other, while working towards one common objective of achieving sustainable peace and security.

This would require support for Africa in taking a lead to find solutions to the conflicts that persist on the Continent. For this to occur, we must come to the realisation that conflict has no boundaries. Its impact reverberates across the globe and thus it is in all our interests to ensure a safe and prosperous world.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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