Statement by Minister Naledi Pandor: Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations, 26 September 2019, New York

Honourable Minister Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia

Honourable Minister Ernesto Araújo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil

Honourable Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs of India

Honourable Minister Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of China

Your Excellencies,

Firstly, allow me to express our condolences to you Minister Jaishankar, the government and people of India on the loss of our dear sister, former Minister of External Affairs, Ms Sushma Swaraj. She will be sorely missed in the BRICS family.

Secondly, allow me to join my colleagues in thanking our host, Minister Lavrov, for arranging our meeting today as incoming BRICS Chair in 2020. Our customary meeting on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly provides a unique opportunity to collectively evaluate the state of multilateralism and to strengthen our coordination on issues of international peace and security, as well take stock of our collaboration on socio-economic development.

The contemporary global political and economic situation is setting an alarming tone. The world today is characterised unfortunately by increasing levels of poverty and inequality in both the developed and developing world. Undoubtedly, in the current global political, economic and security landscape, there is no single organisation or country that can address all its challenges alone. Our annual BRICS meeting here acknowledges this fact, and our partnership remains critical to advancing a global order based on international law, mutual cooperation and respect for multilateralism.

I. Global and Regional Political and Security Issues

Excellencies,

Last year, the General Assembly endorsed the Nelson Mandela Decade of Peace in which we have been called upon to intensify our efforts to pursue international peace and security, development and human rights. We are committed to using the Nelson Mandela Decade for Peace to promote the strengthening of multilateralism and diplomacy as effective tools for addressing the challenges facing the world today.

In the words of former President Mandela, “All conflicts, no matter how intractable, are capable of peaceful resolution”. Therefore, we support the promotion of peaceful resolution of conflict through mediation, peace-making, peace-building and reconstruction efforts. South Africa’s theme for its term on the Security Council is: “Continuing the Legacy: Working for a Just and Peaceful World”. We are using our tenure on the Security Council to promote the maintenance of international peace and security by championing the principles of multilateralism; respect for the centrality of the United Nations Charter; preventative diplomacy; the peaceful settlement of disputes and inclusive dialogue.

We will also continue to encourage closer cooperation between the United Nations Security Council and other regional, sub-regional and continental organisations. Our second year (2020) at the UNSC coincides with our Chairship of the African Union and we hope to bring more effective synergy between these organisations. The majority of the issues on the Security Council’s agenda are related to peace and security on the African Continent, and South Africa is committed to working with our partners towards the African Union’s goal of “Silencing the Guns” on the Continent by 2020.

We cannot deal decisively with threats to international peace and security without 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. Since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, many countries, including our own, continue to grapple with the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

II. Key Issues on the UNGA-74 Agenda

Excellencies,

The theme of this 74th Session of the General Assembly is aptly “Galvanizing multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate change and inclusion.” As we move into a decade of concerted efforts and actions to achieve the SDGs by 2030, as partners in BRICS, we have a unique opportunity to shape multilateral responses to the developmental challenges that face our nations, and more broadly the challenges of the Global South.

Financing for development is fundamental to the success of countries meeting their developmental needs, and achieving the SDGs. Yet, it is the one area that has received neither the appropriate attention, nor the requisite priority from the developed world. South Africa continues to call for collective action to energise growth and tackle challenges in the global economy, encourage public and private investment to align with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and promote new and innovative initiatives that target gaps in financing sustainable development.

Today, we are confronted by the most significant changes in global climate in human history. Africa is experiencing devastating weather events and several regions of my country are facing their worst drought in decades. We recognise that those living under conditions of poverty and vulnerability will be hardest hit by drought, floods and extreme temperatures, and have the least capacity to adapt to climate change. In fact, we are seeing it as we speak. We look forward to working with all our partners on a coordinated and integrated response to climate change, growth and social development in a mutually supportive manner.

South Africa is also committed to working towards the attainment of target 3.8 of the Sustainable Development Goals, with the objective of achieving universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential healthcare services, and access to safe, effective, quality, and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all. Access to health services should be easily accessible to all people irrespective of the economic status. At the same time, people need to be protected from being pushed into poverty because of the cost of health services.

III. Intra-BRICS Cooperation

Excellencies,

Our five nations come together at a time when the international community requires an alternative narrative to global issues. We have to maintain our role as leaders on a path to a more balanced, representative and equitable international order. Our journey must continue based on friendship, mutual benefit, trust and understanding, inclusivity and solidarity. Our journey must, however, not be exclusive to the rest of the global South. We believe that the BRICS Outreach and BRICS Plus initiatives must continue to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with the global South, particularly in our respective regions.

We welcome the initiatives of our current Chair and undertake to support the existing programme of work. The theme of the 11th BRICS Summit, namely “Economic Growth for an Innovative Future”, is clearly beneficial to the national interests of our countries and our peoples. Therefore, we look forward to the conclusion of agreements between our trade and investment promotion and customs agencies as concrete steps to facilitate deepened trade and investment between our nations.

We strongly believe that all deliverables must serve both our national and our collective interests, and, once agreed, must be implemented to ensure that our common will becomes common action. Therefore, South Africa will continue to work with the Chair and the incoming Chair on ensuring the implementation of the Johannesburg Declaration outcomes, including the Vaccine Research Centre in South Africa.

Excellencies,

In conclusion, allow me to congratulate my Brazilian counterpart on Brazil’s Chairship of BRICS. South Africa looks forward to the 11th BRICS Summit in Brasilia in November 2019 and will work together with all partners to realise tangible and substantive Summit outcomes. South Africa also wishes to convey our message of support to our Russian colleagues and assure you of our commitment to actively participate in all BRICS activities during your tenure as BRICS Chair in 2020.  We thank you for your briefing today on your planning for 2020.

Obrigado / Spasiba / Bahut / Xiexie / I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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