Statement by Professor Sydney Mufamadi, National Security Advisor of the Republic of South Africa, at the “High-Level Summit on Peace for Ukraine”, Switzerland, 15-16 June 2024

Statement by Professor Sydney Mufamadi, National Security Advisor of the Republic of South Africa, at the “High-Level Summit on Peace for Ukraine”, Switzerland, 15-16 June 2024


We thank the Government of Switzerland for the invitation to participate in this dialogue on pathways towards a comprehensive, inclusive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine and the region.


The countries that responded positively to the invitation to act as Ukraine’s sounding board, as it develops its peace formula, are meeting for the seventh time. We have agreed on key principles and done so consistently since our first meeting in Copenhagen.


South Africa has participated in this process in order to contribute to finding peace. We saw the two countries on a road that can only lead to mutual destruction, drawing countries of the world with it, including Africa, as collateral damage.


South Africa was not able to speak in the plenary sessions of this conference, hence this written statement outlining our position, given the importance of the Summit and especially in the current global context.


South Africa sought, in accepting the invitation to join the Ukraine Peace Formula process, to help change the direction of this conflict by contributing to de-escalation and to an inclusive process of dialogue which would help bring about peace.


This goal informed South Africa’s participation in the African Peace Initiative, which was a means to shuttle between the parties to foster dialogue.


We must focus on creating conditions for dialogue, for building trust between the parties, engaging with both sides. Our efforts should be on engaging in dialogue, fostering it, and promoting steps to end the war – not to manage the war. Our starting point must be that Russia and Ukraine should find themselves on a road to peace. Our actions should not foreclose the possibility of Russia and Ukraine finding their way to the negotiating table. That is the only way to end this war. And ending this war is what we seek to achieve.


Peace building is a principle of international law that South Africa ascribes to in all circumstances.


That being said and given the importance that this process has placed on the UN Charter, international law and human rights, it is surprising that at this conference, Israel is present and participating, just a few days after a credible high panel committee appointed by the United Nations found that it has, amongst the commission of other atrocity crimes, committed the crime of extermination. This report is done in the context of processes at the ICJ where Israel, accused of genocide, has wilfully breached binding provisional orders of the ICJ and the UNSC and continued to massacre Palestinians without restraint. Israel’s presence and participation here today, and its signing on to a communiqué that foregrounds respect for international law, contradicts the assertion that this process is grounded on the principles of the Charter, Human Rights and International Law.


South Africa has advocated for the uniform application of the principles of the UN Charter and international law, including upholding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. The failure to uniformly and fairly implement international law in all conflict situations globally weakens the normative framework of international accountability and makes the world less safe for all. We hope that there will now be a greater commitment to ensure that all countries are held accountable for not abiding by international laws and the norms of the UN Charter.


Furthermore, the language adopted in the communiqué as it pertains to the threat or use of nuclear weapons narrows the prohibition to the Ukraine context only. This is a position that South Africa has steadfastly opposed in other fora dealing with this matter – the prohibition applies globally, and South Africa will continue to be a leading proponent of total prohibition on the threat or use of nuclear weapons in any context.


We encourage Ukraine and Russia to take to heart the advice that focuses on resolution rather than escalation, on peaceful solutions rather than furtherance of war.


There is no other way to make real the core values of the UN Charter, no other way to ensure a just and lasting peace for all, in Ukraine, in Russia, in the Middle East, in Sudan, and in the world at large.


I thank you.




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