Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the Security Council Debate on the “Maintenance of International Peace and Security in Africa: The Centrality of Preventative Diplomacy, Conflict Prevention and Resolution”, 7 October 2019
I now wish to address the Council in my national capacity. I thank the Secretary-General António Guterres for his statement. I also extend my gratitude to Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, visiting scholar/associate Director Institute for African Studies, Elliott School of International Affairs, at the George Washington University in Washington. Ms Naledi Maite, Programme Manager, Zanele Mbeki Development Trust. Ms Linda Vilakazi, Coordinator: African Women in Dialogue, South Africa for their insightful briefings.
This debate, the first of the second week of South Africa’s Presidency of the Council is symbolic as it places our emphasis on the centrality of preventative diplomacy, conflict prevention and resolution in the continent Africa. It is in this context that we continue our diplomatic efforts to seek solutions to the challenges in Sudan, South Sudan, CAR and other conflicts around the world. We believe so because conflict prevention and resolution is less costly than peacekeeping both in monetary terms, the loss of lives, destruction of infrastructure and displacement.
In his essay entitled ‘Clear the Obstacles and confront the enemy” written in Robben Island Prison in 1976, Nelson Mandela reminds us why negotiation is preferable when he said the following “when we have fought it out and reduced this country to ashes, it will be necessary for us to sit down together and talk about the problems of reconstruction – the black man and the white men, the African and the Afrikaner”.
We pay tribute to the Secretary-General’s reform agenda especially the peace and security pillar which prioritizes preventative diplomacy, mediation and development of nationally owned peace agreements and their early implementation.
South Africa believes that cooperation and coordination among the United Nations and regional and sub-regional organizations could play an important role in conflict prevention. In this regard, South Africa calls for enhanced and continuous strategic and operational coordination of preventive diplomacy and conflict prevention and resolution efforts by the UN, AU, the RECs and other international and local actors.
South Africa pays tribute to the UN-AU mediations efforts in CAR, South Sudan, Sudan and elsewhere in the continent. The recent operationalization of the AU Peace Fund will further boost the AU’s capacities and efforts in mediation and conflict prevention. The Peace fund is structured around three thematic windows, which are Mediation and Preventive diplomacy, Institutional Capacity and Peace Support operations. In this regard, the AU Member States should be commended for their efforts in contributing to the Peace Fund, whose endowment currently stands at USD 115 million. African leaders are demonstrating their political will to deal with and resolve conflicts in Africa.
The role of women and the youth in conflict prevention and mediation cannot be emphasised enough. It is common knowledge that where women are involved in peace processes such processes are more legitimate, sustainable and effective. We welcome the role already been played by SAWID, AWID, FemWise and many other similar initiatives anchoring conflict prevention and resolution through holding grass-roots level negotiations. We urge the Secretary General to deploy more women mediators, peace envoys, SRSG to assist in conflict resolution and mediation across our continent. South Africa has tabled a resolution on WPS agenda to ensure implementation of our previous decisions regarding the role of women in peace and security.
As we approach the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations we urge Member States to renew their commitment to the principles and objectives of the Charter in as far as resolution of disputes are concerned. Time has come, for the UN and this Council to put more efforts and resources in response to Chapter VI of the UN Charter on pacific settlement of disputes.
South Africa is convinced that peace and stability in the world will remain elusive if we do not address the nexus between security and development. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development gives recognition to this vital link. In this context, consideration of the interdependence of security and development requires the different principal organs of the UN to work, in a complementary manner, within their respective Charter mandates, to ensure a holistic and integrated approach to sustainable and durable peace.
I wish to conclude with yet another quote from Nelson Mandela “We were expected to destroy one another and ourselves collectively in the worst racial conflagration, instead we as the people chose the path of negotiation, compromise and peaceful settlement. Instead of hatred and revenge, we chose reconciliation and nation-building”.
South Africa appeals to our sisters and brother in Africa to adopt a similar mind-set, instead of hatred and revenge, chose reconciliation and nation-building.
And once more colleagues, we urge the Security Council to allocate more resources to preventative diplomacy.
I thank you.
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