Coun­tries back SA for UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil seat

The Sunday Independent - - Dispatches - Thami ka Plaatjie

THE MUCH-awaited meet­ing of the 72nd UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil ses­sion took place in New York on June 8 and wasted lit­tle time to at­tend to one of the main top­ics of the day, ie the elec­tions of the new mem­ber states for the two-year ro­ta­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil seat.

There were five avail­able seats, with each can­di­date rep­re­sent­ing their re­gion. South Africa rep­re­sented the African re­gion and Min­is­ter Lindiwe Sisulu ar­rived with the as­sured sup­port of the con­ti­nent. The vic­tory that en­sured South Africa’s as­cen­dancy is shared by the en­tire con­ti­nent.

The other avail­able seats were for the fol­low­ing re­gions, Asia and the Pa­cific Small Is­land De­vel­op­ing States con­tested by Mal­dives and In­done­sia. The Latin Amer­i­can and Caribbean State’s seat was con­tested by the Do­mini­can Repub­lic and two seats for the Western Europe were each con­tested by Bel­gium and Ger­many.

The Depart­ment of In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions has put in a lot of ef­fort and hard work pre­ced­ing this even­tual day.

The five new mem­bers elected this year will for­mally take up their seats on Jan­uary 1 next year and will serve un­til De­cem­ber 31, 2020. These new five coun­tries are ex­pected to bring re­newed vigour and fresh im­pe­tus to the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil given the rise of uni­lat­er­al­ism and nar­row na­tion­al­ism that cam­ou­flages as pro­tec­tion­ism.

The fact that the five coun­tries are elected as op­posed to the five per­ma­nent mem­bers sym­bol­ises their greater le­git­i­macy and sup­port by their peers. This fact also en­hances both their moral and po­lit­i­cal right to dis­charge the af­fairs of the world in the UN.

The meet­ing of the BRICS For­eign Af­fairs min­is­ters that was held on June 2 and 3 in Pretoria gave the much-needed im­pe­tus to the South African quest to take up the UN seat.

All the BRICS for­eign min­is­ters were un­equiv­o­cal in their sup­port.

The For­eign Min­is­ter of China, Wang Yi, ar­gued that South Africa’s ar­rival in the UN would help in the strug­gle against uni­lat­er­al­ism, pro­tec­tion­ism and the dis­as­trous power pol­i­tics that was creep­ing up on the world.

In­dia was equally vo­cal and vo­cif­er­ous in her sup­port for South Africa and pleaded with Sisulu to lift high the agenda of hu­man rights and the strug­gles of women the world over.

The min­is­ter of Rus­sia raised the is­sue of Turkey, and the prob­lem of dou­ble stan­dard in re­solv­ing world dis­putes. He gave the ex­am­ple of the Falk­land Is­lands.

The min­is­te­rial ad­vi­sory pe­nal meet­ing chaired by Aziz Pa­had had also drummed up sup­port from a num­ber of other re­gions. Most Euro­pean am­bas­sadors en­dorsed South Africa’s can­di­dacy. The same ap­plied to most African am­bas­sadors who gave South Africa a vote of con­fi­dence.

The meet­ing of South Amer­i­can coun­tries such as Mex­ico, Cuba, Ar­gentina, Ja­maica, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Panama and Peru to name a few all gave their un­fet­tered sup­port. Cuba was em­phatic that it’s sup­port for South Africa was guar­an­teed and Ja­maica echoed the same sen­ti­ments.

The de­vel­op­men­tal agenda of the South to South coun­tries was en­dorsed to great ac­claim. These coun­tries and the African am­bas­sadors were pleased with the re-in­au­gu­ra­tion of African re­nais­sance agenda.

The cen­te­nary of Nel­son Man­dela was high­lighted as one pro­ject that should sym­bol­ise a new agenda of hu­man rights and the de­vel­op­ment of Africa.

South Africa is ex­pected to bring to the UN the African agenda in re­spect of the fol­low­ing: peace and se­cu­rity, hu­man rights, health is­sues roped by vac­ci­na­tion, good gov­er­nance and democ­racy, and the Pales­tinian ques­tion of self­de­ter­mi­na­tion.

When South Africa hosts the BRICS meet­ing in July in Sand­ton we will be em­bold­ened by the new UN as­sign­ment.

As the coun­try’s chair­man­ship of Sadac comes to an end this year, it will be ex­pected to take the sen­si­bil­i­ties of the “new dawn” to great in­ter­na­tional heights.

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Xin­ping once said that, “five fin­gers make a pow­er­ful fist.”

He aptly ap­plied this metaphor to the untold pos­si­bil­i­ties of a united BRICS. This week had proved to be a great start for the South African jour­ney to­wards re­claim­ing its role in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions.

The pos­i­tive spirit and good­will that was ex­hib­ited in the meet­ing of BRICS min­is­ters surely sym­bol­ised the dawn of a new era for South Africa’s role in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions.

In­dian For­eign Min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj fre­quently held Sisulu’s hand and ad­dressed her as “my sis­ter”, de­lib­er­ately break­ing pro­to­col and sym­bol­is­ing the close re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries.

The Chi­nese for­eign min­is­ter ex­tended an in­vi­ta­tion to Sisulu to visit China and the Rus­sian min­is­ter re­called his long re­la­tion­ship with South Africa through the ANC.

The BRICS for­eign min­is­ters soon proved to be a meet­ing of old friends who were pleased to re­new their ac­quain­tances.

South Africa is ex­pected to take up the new UN as­sign­ment in its stride and must not bow down to Her­ren­volk pres­sures of uni­lat­er­al­ism.

South Africa must be a bea­con of hope and a torch­bearer for the de­vel­op­ment of the African con­ti­nent and its agenda.

The words of Oliver Tambo still ring true: “even when con­demned bell, book and can­dle, (they) re­fused to for­sake their posts and to shirk their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties”.





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