21 September 2011 South African President Jacob Zuma today told the General Assembly that his country supported the intention of the Palestinian Authority to seek full membership of the United Nations as a sovereign State and urged other countries to back the move.
“It is a decisive step towards achieving lasting peace, economic cooperation and prosperity for the millions of people in the Middle East, and urge that it be viewed favourable,” Mr. Zuma said in his speech to the Assembly’s annual general debate.
On the situation in Libya, Mr. Zuma called for the cessation of hostilities and an end to NATO’s aerial bombardment. “We also call for the lifting of the no-fly zone, which was necessitated by the need for the protection of civilians,” said the South African leader.
He voiced concern over the proliferation of arms in Libya, adding that the transitional authorities there will need support to deal with the security challenges. He urged Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) to ensure the protection of migrant workers, especially those from the sub-Saharan African countries, whose number he put at about 2.5 million.
“Immediate measures should be taken to put an end to the killings, arbitrary arrests and the detention of migrant and black Libyans,” said Mr. Zuma.
He noted that the African Union (AU) tried to broker a peaceful solution to the Libyan crisis when it erupted early this year.
“However, it is a matter of record now that the AU efforts were never given a chance. Military actions were preferred over peaceful means.”
The South African leader stressed that the UN must never allow itself to be used by any country. “All citizens of the world should feel confident and secure, in the knowledge that the UN is above all interests and only serves those of the global citizenry.”
He also reiterated South Africa’s call for the lifting of the economic and financial embargo on Cuba to help the Caribbean country’s people attain greater economic freedom.
Mr. Zuma also met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the margins of the General Assembly’s debate and the two leaders discussed developments in the southern African region, including the situation in Madagascar. They also talked about recent developments in Libya and Sudan.
Mr. Ban thanked the South African leader for his contribution as a co-chair of the Global Sustainability Panel, and acknowledged the country’s leadership as the host of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the city of Durban later this year.
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