3 January 2013

Press Conference on Ending of South Africa’s Two-year Security Council Tenure

3 January 2013
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Ending of South Africa’s Two-year Security Council Tenure

During its two-year tenure as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, South Africa had helped to bolster international peace and security — on the African continent in particular — while advocating for a stronger, more coordinated relationship between the Council and the African Union, the country’s Permanent Representative said at a Headquarters press conference today.

“We feel that the voice of Africa was, to a large extent, heard,” said Baso Sangqu, briefing on his country’s two years on the 15-member organ.  South Africa had been able to build upon the experience gained during its 2007-2008 term on the Council, and had contributed to resolving the many prevailing international peace and security challenges.  Among its main aims, it had worked to confront lingering, new and emerging conflicts around the world, and had worked to forge a stronger relationship between the Peace and Security Council of the African Union and the United Nations Security Council.

Describing the global shifts seen over the last two years as unprecedented and unexpected, he cited, among others, the situations in Somalia, as well as Sudan and South Sudan, saying they were both “moving forward”.  However, conflicts were emerging and re-emerging, including those in the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea-Bissau, as new challenges erupted, the case of Mali and the Sahel, in particular.  “I believe that South Africa has contributed to shaping what needs to be done” to tackle each of those problems, he said, adding that the concept of an “African solution to African problems” should continue to be central.

Indeed, the role of the African Union Peace and Security Council must always be considered when tackling conflicts on the African continent, he reiterated.  To that end, Security Council resolution 2033 (2012) laid the framework for further cooperation between the regional body and the United Nations Security Council, and would remain an effective bridge between the two organs going forward.  Outlining a number of outstanding issues, including the situation in Western Sahara, he expressed South Africa’s hope that the Council’s collective efforts to resolve them would continue.

Asked about the number of African countries seeking a seat on the Security Council and his country’s position on the need to reform it, he stressed that the organ “desperately needs to be reformed”, adding that South Africa subscribed fully to the proposal that African States hold both permanent and non-permanent membership.  Once that change was made, the African Union would decide which countries would represent it, he said, noting that South Africa was an aspiring permanent member.

To a question about the funding problems plaguing the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and the implications for the newly approved, African-led operation to be deployed in Mali, Mr. Sangqu replied that his country had indeed questioned the lack of funding for AMISOM.  “Yes, Mali is going to require resources,” he said, expressing hope that the support requested by the African Union for the new operation would be forthcoming.

He went on to say that South Africa supported a two-pronged approach in Mali — engagement with the Government in Bamako, while at the same time ending terrorism in the north.  The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union and the United Nations, including the Security Council, were all aligned on that front, he said, emphasizing that “we need to move quickly” in that respect.

With regard to his country’s participation in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), he said South Africa had stressed before its departure from the Council its readiness to support a strengthened international force in that country.  “It is important for MONUSCO to have the teeth that it requires” to effectively deal with challenges, he added.

Asked to compare the approach of Arab League-United Nations Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi with that of former Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan in addressing the crisis in Syria, he said both had sought an effective political solution.  Mr. Annan had created the six-point plan to end the violence, and Mr. Brahimi was using it as a basis for his current work.

“All sides must put down their arms and engage in the political process,” he continued, stressing that the sooner a political solution was reached, the better the situation would be.  “We are totally against the arming of both sides, and we have said it right from the beginning.”  What had happened in Libya — where weapons had fallen into the “wrong hands” — must not be allowed to happen again, he warned, asking all international players to respect the search for a political solution and support all initiatives to that end.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.