Statement by Ambassador Mathu Joyini, Permanent Representative, in explanation of vote on UNGA Resolution A/ES-11/L.5, 12 October 2022
South Africa is deeply concerned by the ongoing war in Ukraine, the increased loss of life and the deteriorating humanitarian situation. The detrimental effects of this war are also being felt all over the world. We urge parties to the conflict to fully respect international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Civilians, humanitarian personnel, vulnerable persons, including women and children, must be fully protected.
Speaking in this Assembly in March we said that wars have no winners, and that the real heroes are those who work for peace. It is, therefore, regrettable that in the case of Ukraine peace remains elusive, instead we see steps being taken to encourage a continuation of the war.
All parties are reminded that they must comply with the laws of war as contained in the Geneva Conventions in particular those relating to the targeting of civilians. The principle of distinction is clear that all parties should take responsibility to ensure that civilians are not targeted.
South Africa considers the territorial integrity of States, including that of Ukraine, to be sacrosanct and we reject all actions that undermine the Purposes and Principles of the UN Charter, and International Law. We have noted the statement of the UN Secretary-General, Mr António Guterres, when he said that, “any annexation of a State’s territory by another resulting from the threat of or the use of force is a violation of the Principles of the UN Charter and International Law”.
We abstained on the resolution because we believe that the objective of this Assembly in keeping with its mandate must always be to contribute to a constructive outcome conducive to the creation of sustainable peace in Ukraine. Unfortunately, some elements of the resolution do not address this. In the context of the heightened tensions in recent days, all efforts should be geared towards a ceasefire and a political solution.
The General Assembly must stand together in seeking peace and unanimously call for an immediate end to the war. That should be our immediate focus.
We therefore expected that any additional resolutions would focus on concrete proposals to end the war which is exacting such a heavy toll on the people of Ukraine. South Africa remains steadfast that dialogue, mediation and diplomacy is the only path that will lead to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. We reiterate our call for a cessation of hostilities as a matter of urgency. This would create the necessary environment required for a political process leading to sustainable peace, taking into account the concerns of all affected States.
We were encouraged by the efforts of the Secretary-General to finalise an agreement for the export of grain and fertiliser to countries in need. We hoped that this important example could be the basis for an agreement leading to a diplomatic resolution of the conflict. We therefore call on the UN Secretary-General to use his Good Offices to mediate in pursuit of finding a sustainable solution and for us as Member States to facilitate an enabling environment for dialogue and a negotiated solution to the conflict. South Africa stands ready to work with all member states to contribute to the creation of this conducive environment.
We urge the UN Security Council to play a constructive role in the resolution of this conflict, in line with its mandate for the maintenance of international peace and security. The Council cannot abandon its responsibility during this time.
I thank you.
ISSUED BY THE MINISTRY OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
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