Statement by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, Mr Alvin Botes, on the occasion of the Ministerial General Debate of the Ministerial Meeting of the CoB on the Theme: NAM: United and Steadfast in confronting Emerging Challenges, 6 July 2023
I would like to begin by expressing my sincere gratitude to the Government and people of the Republic of Azerbaijan for the warm reception extended to me and my delegation, and for the excellent arrangements since our arrival to this beautiful city marked by its rich history and culture.
South Africa welcomes and fully subscribes to the theme of this meeting: “NAM: United and steadfast in confronting emerging challenges”.
This Ministerial meeting comes at a time when the world is faced with a multiplicity of contemporary challenges exacerbated by geopolitical dynamics and new conflicts.
The question that we must ask ourselves is what is our role as developing countries in this current global framework, while noting that we have our own interests and we do not necessarily wish to be drawn into the geopolitical battles of the bigger powers.
Our Movement was formed at the height of the Cold War and adopted the important principle of non-alignment based on the Bandung Principles. It is the NAM that brought the concept of non-alignment closer to the concept of the centrality of multilateralism and collective action to address global challenges.
As a country that benefitted from the solidarity of the NAM in the global fight against Apartheid and oppression, South Africa remains committed to ensuring that this Movement remains relevant in addressing the common challenges and opportunities for developing countries. It is our contention that the principles that brought members together at the formation of the movement remain applicable today.
However, this Movement can only grow if we set aside our own differences and focus on advancing the interests of our members.
This would also necessitate us building partnerships based on mutual respect with those outside our Movement. In doing so, we need to ensure that the interests of our partners that may be incompatible with ours does not dilute our principled and long-held positions.
The contemporary global situation provides members with a new urgency to look back and reflect on our common achievements as a Movement and to agree on a shared vision of the Movement’s role for the future. This is particularly necessary at a time when the world appears to be once again divided between east and west.
South Africa remains convinced that as the NAM, we should continue to assert our independence based on our common values to address the challenges that confront us, whether they be conflict resolution, the achievement of development goals or the attainment of the right to self-determination for those that continue to strive for it.
South Africa will remain steadfast in advancing its non-aligned approach in the maintenance of international peace and security by advocating for the peaceful political settlement of disputes and inclusive dialogue. South Africa’s involvement in the resolution of conflicts, peace keeping missions, peacebuilding, and post -conflict reconstruction and development efforts demonstrates our commitment towards ensuring a peaceful, more prosperous world.
Countries of the world are linked in so many ways today, digitally, through global trade, global value chains, and increasing international capital flows. All these require a globally agreed set of rules that apply equally to all but that also establishes room for development for the poorest and most disadvantaged.
Almost all our countries are exhibiting signs of slowing growth and a looming economic crisis. As all of you are aware, we have agreed on post-COVID recovery interventions including access to special drawing rights. These agreements have not been fully acted upon and have not resulted in the economic turnaround anticipated when we adopted declarations in a range of settings. We would like to see a clear message emerge from this meeting that no country or region can progress in isolation. We need to pursue our mutual peace, development, growth and transformation together.
For developing countries to play a more meaningful role in global affairs, dedicated attention to reform of global governance institutions, including the United Nations is required to make it fit for the twenty-first century and beyond. The privilege that a few powerful countries enjoy of determining the decisions and character of the multilateral bodies should be brought to an end and we should work towards more open and democratic institutions.
South Africa would like to welcome the recommendation to admit the Republic of South Sudan as a member of this Movement. The addition of new members, committed to our founding principles, will no doubt strengthen our ability to advance our common interests.
As I conclude, let us recall that at our meeting in Belgrade in 2021, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of our Movement, we set ourselves the task to commit to the collective efforts of the NAM to achieve a world of peace, equality, cooperation, and well-being for all. This is even more crucial in 2023, going into the future.
We look forward to the Summit in Kampala, Uganda next January where our Leaders will be able to further deliberate on strengthening our Movement and we wish Uganda all the best in its preparations for the Summit.
I thank you.
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