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21. Juli 2019


Opinion piece by the Deputy Director General for Branch: Public Diplomacy, Mr Clayson Monyela

SA’s term on the UN Security Council is guided by our national experience of peacefully dismantling apartheid and achieving a negotiated settlement. On September 24 2018, the UN General Assembly, in its peace summit commemorating the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, adopted a declaration dedicating member states to the pursuit of global peace, security and development. In keeping with this vision, we have chosen for our term on the security council the theme “Continuing the legacy: working for a just and peaceful world” for our tenure.

SA has been using its time on the council over the last five and a half months to promote a more effective multilateral approach to addressing issues related to international peace and security.

We are emphasising the role of women in the resolution of conflict. SA is promoting the mainstreaming of a gender perspective in all security council resolutions in line with security council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security. The 20th anniversary of this landmark resolution, initiated by our neighbour

Namibia during its time on the council, will also be commemorated during our term in 2020.

We will also hold an open debate on resolution 1325 during our presidency of the council in October this year. The African Union (AU) committed to ending conflicts and silencing the guns on the continent by the year 2020. Serving on the council will also afford SA an opportunity to meaningfully contribute towards this goal.

The charter of the UN gives the security council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Chapter VIII of the charter also recognises the complementarity between the roles of the UN and regional organisations in that respect. In this regard, SA is continuing to work towards strengthening co-operation between the security council and regional organisations.

SA pioneered the adoption of resolution 1809 in 2008 and resolution 2033 in January 2012 to further strengthen that relationship, particularly between the Peace and Security Council of the AU and the UN Security Council. Through these resolutions we demonstrated as a country, and as the AU, our collective political will to strengthen co-ordination and co-operation between the UN and regional organisations.

Among the challenges we are addressing are those brought about by the funding gap for UN peacekeeping missions. Recent cuts to the UN budget have a detrimental effect on peace and security, particularly on the African continent. It is vital that there be predictable funding for UN-mandated AU peacekeeping operations in Africa.

During our term on the security council we are working towards strengthening co-ordination between the 10 elected members of the council (the E10). We believe only through improved co-ordination and co-operation can the E10 compensate for the inherent imbalances between elected and non-elected council members.

We recognise that elected members of the council face a distinct disadvantage. This is because we join an organ of the UN which comprises five permanent members that have been on the council for over 70 years and who have the right to a veto. Consequently, in November 2018, SA and Sweden hosted an unprecedented meeting of elected members of the council in Pretoria to discuss mutual cooperation and better co-ordination. This meeting recognised that in the face of growing divisions among the five permanent members, elected members have a crucial role to play to ensure that the council is able to fulfil its mandate.

We unfortunately note a rise in populism and nationalism globally. There are increased geopolitical divisions and the pursuit of narrow interests by some. This has made it more difficult to respond to transnational challenges. We must recognise that states are interdependent and even the most powerful countries cannot achieve security, nor maintain prosperity and ensure sustainable development for their people by acting unilaterally or in isolation. These challenges are clearly evident in the security council, especially among the permanent members. As a result, the council has not been able to act in cases where it should, such as on Palestine or in Syria.

From our perspective, collective action through multilateral engagement is all the more necessary if we are committed to address our common problems. Thus we need a multilateral system based on international law that fosters greater interdependence and mutual co-operation. Countries like SA, which have gone through turbulent histories, and which recognise the importance of multilateral action, must work together to reinforce the notion of collective action through the UN. Our time on the security council allows us an opportunity to do this.

Source: Sunday Times



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