Parliamentary Debate Speech for the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Hon. Candith Mashego-Dlamini, for Parliamentary Debate on Russia – Ukraine Crisis, Tuesday, 15 March 2022

After the democratic elections in 1994, South Africa ceased to be the pariah of the world; it regained its rightful place in Africa, in the United Nations and in the family of nations. We emerged as a democratic country into a fundamentally transformed world.

The development of South Africa’s post-apartheid foreign policy is guided by seven principles:

  • A belief in Human Rights which extends beyond the political, embracing the economic, social and environmental issues;
  • A belief that just and lasting solutions to the problems of humankind can only come through the promotion of Democracy, worldwide;
  • A belief that Justice and International Law should guide the relations between nations;
  • A belief that international peace is the goal to which all nations should strive. Where this breaks down, internationally- agreed peaceful mechanisms to solve conflicts should be resorted to;
  • A belief that our foreign policy should reflect the interests of the continent of Africa;
  • A belief that South Africa's economic development depends on growing regional and international economic cooperation in an independent world;
  • A belief that our foreign relations must mirror our deep commitment to the consolidation of a democratic South Africa.

South Africa’s approach on the Russia-Ukraine matter has been based on the following key principles, which in turn are based on our foreign policy:

  • Expressing deep concern at violations of the UN Charter and international law, the loss of life, the humanitarian impact and the forced displacement of people as a result of the war in Ukraine;
  • Recognising that armed conflict will no doubt result in human suffering and destruction, the effects of which will not only affect Ukraine, but also reverberate across the world. No country is immune to the effects of this conflict. As the UN Secretary-General has indicated, the conflict will have a huge impact on the “global economy in a moment when we are emerging from the COVID [pandemic] and so many developing countries absolutely need to have space for the recovery”.
  • South Africa emphasises respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States. On the 9th of September 2021BRICKS leaders have expressed concern at the continuing conflicts and violence in the different parts of the world.
  • The BRICKS leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the principles of none interference in the internal affairs states and reiterated that, all conflicts must be resolved by peaceful means and through political and diplomatic efforts, in line with the international Law of the UN charter.
  • As a nation birthed through negotiation, South Africa is always appreciative of the potential dialogue has in averting a crisis and de-escalating conflict. In line with our strong commitment to the peaceful resolution of conflict, South Africa urges all parties to devote increased efforts to diplomacy and to find a solution that will help avert further escalation.
  • The door of diplomacy should never be closed even as conflict has broken out.
  • South Africa urges all parties to approach the situation in a spirit of compromise, with all sides respecting international law. Peaceful resolution of the matter can be achieved by all parties if diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the concerns raised expressed by Russia resume.
  • Currently, it is critical for all parties to uphold and protect human rights and abide by their obligations in terms of international law and international humanitarian law.
  • South Africa continues to support and encourage regional initiatives such as the Minsk Agreements, and we welcome the work of the Normandy Format, the Trilateral Contact Group and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
  • South Africa supports the involvement of the Good Offices of the UN Secretary-General as it could also make a positive contribution in finding a lasting solution to this conflict. In the search for peace, South Africa supports the resolution process of inclusive talks led by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to address all the issues of concern to any of the parties.
  • Noting that international action must create an environment conducive for diplomacy, dialogue, and mediation. Greater attention must be paid to bringing the sides closer to dialogue and not take them further apart. The international community should support engagement between the parties in a spirit of compromise, while deescalating tensions, committing them to the cessation of hostilities, and building trust and confidence.
  • As government of South Africa, we urge all South Africans not to take sides on the conflicts between Russia and Ukraine, as this could go against our principles. In addition, South Africa has a good bilateral relations with both countries.

I THANK YOU
NGIYABONGA

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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