TIME FOR SA TO STEP UP

Financial Mail - - EDITORIALS -

A’s for­eign pol­icy prac­tice in mul­ti­lat­eral in­sti­tu­tions has often failed to match the prom­ise of its con­sti­tu­tion, lauded for its ad­vance­ment of hu­man rights. Some of the coun­try’s more du­bi­ous de­ci­sions in the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil have given the lie to its stated com­mit­ment to hu­man rights over the cal­lous prag­ma­tism of re­alpoli­tik.

In two terms on the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil (2007-2008; 2011-2012), for ex­am­ple, SA voted against res­o­lu­tions con­demn­ing hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions in Myan­mar and sanc­tion­ing Robert Mu­gabe’s regime in Zim­babwe; it re­jected a draft res­o­lu­tion for sanc­tions against Su­dan; and ab­stained from a res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing “sys­temic hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions” in Syria.

2019 brings with it the op­por­tu­nity for SA to sal­vage its rep­u­ta­tion as far as its rights record is con­cerned — and with the world tee­ter­ing on the edge of tur­moil, there should be more than enough op­por­tu­nity for it to do just that.

As SA takes up a seat on the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil for a third time, one can only hope Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa’s “new dawn” will show it­self to have force in the hu­man rights realm too. SA’S de­ci­sion late last year to re­verse its po­si­tion on Myan­mar is a first step in the right di­rec­tion. It is, one hopes, a har­bin­ger of a for­eign pol­icy more closely aligned with the ideals for which so many South Africans sac­ri­ficed so much.

SGen­eral num­ber: (011) 280-3710/3183 Sub­scrip­tion cus­tomer ser­vices hot­line: Do­mes­tic 0860-131313.

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Sub­scrip­tions (an­nual rates: 50 is­sues): South Africa R1,105; R1,040 (se­nior cit­i­zens).

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