International Relations, Peace and Security (IRPS) cluster briefing
13 February 2008
Before I address you on the work of the IRPS cluster, I would like to reiterate South Africa's condemnation in the strongest possible terms of the attempt on the life of the President of East Timor, Jose Ramos-Horta and also the Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao. We wish the President a speedy recovery and call on the government of East Timor to bring to Justice those responsible for the heinous act, and urge all parties to co-operate actively with the authorities in this regard.
The South African government will continue to work towards the political and economical integration of Africa through strengthening existing continental African Union institutions and consolidating the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to build the United Africa. We will also focus on building African institutions that will positively contribute to the overall agenda of fighting poverty and promoting development.
Critical to this is the persistent interactions with our neighbours and the European Union through our bilateral and multilateral engagements within the context of the process led by the African Union to ensure that the negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreement are completed as soon as possible, premised on accelerating the development of our region.
Accordingly, we continue to pursue the priorities of the IRPS Cluster that seek to consolidate the African Agenda through the strengthening of the African Union and its structures.
Key to achieving these, amongst others, is the following:
* mobilise support for the harmonisation and rationalisation of Regional Economic Communities (RECs), as well as for the regional integration process
* strengthen governance and capacity in the African Union (AU)
* support the Pan-African Parliament (PAP)
* operationalisation of the African Court of Justice and the African Court on Human and People's Rights
* active engagement in the Pan African Ministers Conference for Ministers of Public Service/Civil Service
* operationalisation of the AU Financial Institutions
* engage the African Diaspora
* monitor migration issues
* strengthen AU-EU Relations.
With regard to the support of the implementation of the New Partnership of Africa's Development (Nepad), we will continue to facilitate the implementation of Nepad priority sectors such as the infrastructure, agriculture, environment, tourism, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), health, human resources, and science and technology and their integration with AU and Southern African Development Community (SADC) processes.
Operationalisation of the African Peer Review Mechanism and Management of International Development Assistance has also been identified as significant factors in the cluster, together with the chairing of the African Ministerial Conference of the Environment (AMCEN).
On SADC matters, South Africa will as many of you may know, assume the Chairmanship in August 2008. This presents both opportunities and challenges as the region faces unique challenges as it advances regional integration.
We have noted that increasingly individual SADC member states confront a variety of challenges largely imposed by their economic weaknesses, which are currently impacting negatively on the need for singularity of purpose and action to advance regional development. In this regard, we have to focus our efforts on strengthening bilateral ties with each SADC country as a pre-requisite for the success.
The debate on the integration at the Extraordinary SADC Summit held in 2006 focused on two options that of advancing rapidly towards a Custom Union in 2010 and consolidating the SADC Free Trade Area (FTA) to address issues rose in the 2005 Mid Term Review and the Audit Study, as well as supply constraints.
Accordingly, SADC will in the coming period prioritise the acceleration of the Regional Economic Integration, and as the region, we will work towards full implementation of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) and strengthening governance and capacity of SADC, especially in the Secretariat.
In the area of Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) in Africa, South African continues to play a pivotal role in helping promote peace and stability on the continent.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
South Africa will continue to:
* The South African government welcomes the successful conclusion of the Reconciliation Conference in the DRC. The parties signed the Engagement Act which inter alia paves way for the immediate and total stoppage of hostilities across the north Kivu province.
* Support the DRC in its reconstruction programme. Pursuant to this a Bi-National Commission (BNC) led by the two presidents was held in Kinshasa in 20 August 2007 where progress was reviewed. Both Presidents Mbeki and Kabila urged all the departments concerned to accelerate delivery. It is envisaged that a follow-up BNC will be held in Kinshasa to assess further progress next March.
* To support a comprehensive Security Sector Reform (SSR) programme that is DRC led – in particular the full implementation of the decisions taken at the last Bi-National Commission (BNC) in August 2007 on this.
* Ensure support for ongoing MONUC presence; working in close consultation with the United Nations (UN) and DRC.
* There's overall need to ensure progressive building of capacity of the security forces for them to take charge over the totality of the sovereign territory of the DRC.
- South Africa participating as observer to ensure the implementation of the Nairobi agreement between the DRC and Rwanda. This is critical to stabilisation in the East of the DRC
- SA needs to maintain our dialogue with both Rwanda and DRC and to promote improvement of the levels of trust between the two countries
- SA to commit to support 2008 Local Government Elections in the DRC
Regarding the state of affairs in Zimbabwe, we reiterate President Thabo Mbeki's remarks during his State of the Nation Address on Friday 8 February 2008 that the parties involved in the dialogue have reached full agreement on all matters relating to the substantive matters the parties had to address.
Regarding the developments in Kenya, we welcome the fact that violence has subsided to a considerable level in the country. All process led by the African Union Chief Negotiator, Mr Kofi Annan is making considerable progress and the indication of progress is the briefing made to Parliament earlier this week which indicated that parties had agreed to an independent inquiry to the process leading to elections and post elections. We await with keen interest the outcome of the meeting, which is currently underway between the two parties.
Central African Republic (CAR)
South Africa remains concerned with the developments in CAR which relates to the resignation of the Prime Minister and his cabinet as it affects the stability of the Central African region and that of the continent.
The agreement on the status of forces in Sudan has been signed which opens the way for the 26 000 UN/AU Hybrid Force to be deployed in the Darfur region of Sudan and we believe it will bring stability in the region.
South Africa remains seized with bringing peace, security, and stability in Africa in:
* Western Sahara
* Cote d'Ivoire
Following the successful launch of the SADC brigade last year in Lusaka, Zambia, there's a need to fast-track the establishment of the African Standby Force to be used as an additional instrument towards contributing peace, security, and stability in the continent.
The review of the White Paper on Peace Missions
Following our foray into the terrain of peacekeeping operations seven years (2001) ago we have resolved that it is time to review our performance and draw on the lessons learnt. To this end we will review the white paper on peacekeeping missions.
Promotion of Regional and Continental Maritime Security
Another area of work where South Africa is making an important contribution is in the Promotion of Regional and Continental Maritime Security. Currently the countries that we are collaborating with are Angola, Guinea Conakry, Nigeria, Lesotho, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Last year a conference was held at Simonstown with the theme: "Emerging Maritime Concept in Southern Africa." It was resolved that amongst others:
* a centre of excellence for naval training will be established.
* to strengthen area of Naval Co-ordination and Shipping Guidance
* formation of the maritime component of the SADC
* exploration of the area of sea lift capabilities required for peace operation in the region.
On issues relating to the strengthening of the South-South Co-operation, we will reinforce India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA) Dialogue Forum and actively participate in the New Africa Asia Strategic Partnership (NAASP). This will include the Implementation of the Beijing Action Plan in the Forum for China Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) and engagements with organisations of the South.
North - South Co-operation
It is also vital to strengthen North and South Co-operation to enhance relations with Group of 8 (G8) and work towards consolidation of engagement with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It is also critical to engage in the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD). The TICAD summit will take place on 28 to 30 May in Yokohama, Japan and we hope to review the implementation of issues discussed previously. The meeting will provide us with an opportunity to further explore issues such as technology transfer and investment in African development etc.
Global System of governance
In as far as participating in the global system of governance is concern we will assume the presidency of the UN Security Council in April 2008 and we will seek to advance the African Agenda and in doing so we will once again seek to promote closer co-operation between the AU Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council.
South Africa has successfully completed the first year of its two-year term as a member of the UN Security Council and has been proactive on virtually all issues on the agenda in fulfilment of its UN Charter responsibilities. Some of the undertakings needed in the global system of governance include active engagement in the G20 as part of the Troika; contribution to debates on climate change; contribution to debates on terrorism; promote South Africa's position on disarmament and contribution towards the Middle East Peace Process.
Serious consideration must be taken to ensure the Implementation of outcomes of major international conferences. On this note, we must commence to prepare for the Review Conference on World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) in 2009. To this effect, President Mbeki announced on Friday that South Africa would play host to the Review Conference to evaluate the implementation of the decisions of the World Conference Against Racism, which was held in our country in 2001.
Furthermore, we must consolidate African positions for United Nations Commission on Social Development (CSD) 16 and CSD 17 and work towards a developmental outcome of World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations. As you are all aware, we will be hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the greatest sporting event in the world to be staged for the first time on African continent. All preparations are on track and we are confident and upbeat that we will deliver a world-class event.
Strengthening of political and economic relations
As we enter the last lap of this government's term of office, we need to concretise political and economic relations by cementing Economic Diplomacy and Marketing South Africa abroad. In this regard, we continue to promote and strengthen co-operation with the EU, including the finalisation of the SADC- EU Economic Agreement Partnership (EPA) negotiations. We must also continue participation in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU)- India Passenger Transport Authority (PTA) negotiations and work to improve SACU- China trade relations.
More importantly, we must work towards the finalisation of SACU- Mercosur PTA and Step up engagements with major powers, particularly those having a major influence in the Continent, such as United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Belgium. This year we celebrate the tenth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between South Africa and the People's Republic of China.
The mushrooming of relations in a variety of areas between our governments and peoples confirms that the China-South Africa Partnership for Growth and Development is a strategic relationship of mutual benefit, which can only grow from strength to strength. Currently, Chinese economy is the fourth world largest (nominal GDP) and South Africa is China's key trade partner in Africa accounting for 20,8% of Africa-China's trade. Chinese Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) into SA amounts to US$6 billion while SA FDI into China stands at US$2 billion. China is the fifth largest export destination for SA.
SA exports to China in 2005 including People's Republic of China (PRC), Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao is at R 17,67 billion and SA imports from greater China in 2005 is R39,5 billion. It remains our objectives to strengthen our capacity to take advantage the emerging economic opportunities offered by our political and economic relations with China.
I thank you!
Issued by: Department of Foreign Affairs
13 February 2008