Statement by H.E. Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, on the occasion of the Interactive Debate of the 18th Summit of the NAM, themed: “NAM Baku Summit: Upholding the Bandung Principles to ensure concerted and adequate Response to the Challenges of the Contemporary World,” Baku, Azerbaijan, 26 October 2019
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government
It is indeed an honour for me to address you on the occasion of the 18th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). We want to thank our Azeri hosts for the excellent arrangements and wonderful hospitality.
Allow me to convey to our former Chairperson, His Excellency President Nicolas Maduro and the people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela our highest regard and gratitude for steering our Movement for the past three years.
You have executed that task in the spirit of solidarity that is an example to all of us in the Movement.
We wish our new Chairperson, His Excellency President Ilham Aliyev, all the best and convey to him and the people of Azerbaijan the assurances of our full support for the task ahead.
This debate holds special significance for South Africa as it coincides with the 25th anniversary of our freedom and democracy. We, in South Africa, will never forget the Non-Aligned Movement’s unwavering support in our struggle against apartheid in the multilateral arena, particularly in the United Nations (UN). This was solidarity for peace, justice and friendship with the people of South Africa. This Movement contributed to the defeat of apartheid and gave us the opportunity to build a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and united society. It was therefore no surprise that one of the first international organizations that South Africa chaired after our freedom was attained was NAM, which we chaired from 1999-2003.
It is an honour for me to address you on the Summit theme: “NAM Baku Summit: Upholding the Bandung Principles to ensure concerted and adequate response to the challenges of the contemporary world.” This is pertinent for the challenges that face all regions of the Movement, but especially because it encompasses the very spirit of our Movement.
At the historic Bandung Conference of 1955, our leaders adopted the Principles of the Movement – principles that not only reflect cultural cooperation and promote dialogue among different civilisations, but that have guided and held this Movement together over time. These principles are critical to the success of this Movement, as reflected in its survival beyond the Cold War, even when many in the developed world were predicting its inevitable demise.
NAM survived because it rejected unilateralism and continued to enhance cooperation and solidarity we have expanded beyond ourselves and reached out to the developed nations of the world. We continue to do so even in the face of the dangerous unilateralism we are currently seeing. NAM continues to uphold the banner of multilateralism, which is the only viable, credible and valid framework for responding effectively to the current global challenges.
This Summit comes at a crucial juncture as the Movement reaffirms the founding Principles of political self-determination, sovereignty, non-aggression, non-interference in internal affairs of others and the promotion of equality, all to support the efforts of developing countries in promoting peace and cooperation in the world. Today, the Movement faces more challenges than ever before, in the midst of mounting global insecurity, political and socio-economic challenges. Millions in the developing world remain trapped in poverty inequality and insecurity.
The billions of people that we represent today sitting at this Summit, especially the youth, will expect us to speak as a unified voice and act together in the advancement and defence of the collective interests of the Global South. Clearly, the people that we represent want us to ensure that whatever we do within NAM and within the UN, should at all times guarantee them peace, security, stability, prosperity and development. They expect our solidarity to result in positive change and not to be limited to great speeches and summits. Our number, our strength, our solidarity, have to mean more to our people.
We should remain resolute and maintain our stance on historic and new challenges confronting us. These include, amongst others, the self-determination of the peoples of Palestine and Western Sahara; the lifting of the economic blockade against Cuba and unilateral sanctions against Iran, Venezuela and Zimbabwe; the resolution of the debate on the right of access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes; defeating the scourge of unilateralism; upholding the centrality of the UN Charter and international law in the peaceful resolution of conflicts; defeating the scourge of terrorism and its root causes; and the alleviation and eradication of poverty and underdevelopment.
These challenges also include addressing conflict resolution and development in Africa. This year, Africa has reached an important milestone with the adoption and launch of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA). We are confident that it will unleash Africa’s economic potential and consolidate its position as a new frontier of economic growth and development, as well as contribute to peace, stability development and prosperity on our Continent.
South Africa is currently serving its two-year tenure as an elected member to the UN Security Council. We experience first-hand its inability to protect the weak and the vulnerable. The reform of the UN Security Council is more urgent than ever before given fundamentally different conditions of the world we live in. In this regard, NAM has acknowledged the need to reform the UN Security Council to reflect present-day realities. We, as South Africa, will work hard with the rest of the UN membership to re-invigorate the negotiations on reform at the Inter-Governmental Negotiations in the UN General Assembly.
As NAM, we should not only adhere to the equality of nations, large and small, but also to equality of human beings. A world free of domination by the strong and powerful is as important as a world free of sexism. Next year, in 2020, we as the world will mark 25 years since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on Women (1995) and 20 years since the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution on Women, Peace and Security (2000). Our Movement, therefore, must remain committed to the promotion and protection of the rights of women and girls and achieving women’s empowerment and gender equality. We cannot afford to allow another 25 years to pass, leaving the aspirations of millions of women and girls as unrealised expectations.
This year is a significant landmark on the pathway to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At the General Debate of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly held last month in New York, NAM Member States reaffirmed their full commitment to the universal endeavour to ensure that we comprehensively address the growing global economic, social and environmental challenges. Developing countries also came forward with bold climate actions and plans, determined to contribute their best effort to addressing a climate emergency they did not create. This shared determination by developing countries to work together to address global sustainable development challenges is consistent with the ninth founding Bandung Principle of this Movement, which calls for promoting mutual interest and cooperation.
In the field of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control, we are keenly aware of the complexities of the international security environment, as well as the challenges faced by the international multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation regime. As a Movement, we should continue to actively participate in the development and advancement of the international rule of law as a contribution towards the achievement of a more secure world for all, while ensuring the inalienable right of States to the peaceful application of advanced technologies. We remain ready to play our part to make the world a safer place for all.
In conclusion, Chairperson,
Now is the time for the Movement to draw fully on its hallmark of solidarity and to use it to enhance its commitment and action towards development, peace, security and human rights and a strengthened rules-based multilateral system. We believe if we do so, we will emerge from the current challenges that confront us all, much stronger than ever before.
I thank you.
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