Thursday, 03 March 2022

Geneva: South Africa remains deeply concerned at the escalation of the conflict in the Ukraine, and the regional and international socio-economic implications, says the country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Ambassador Mathu Joyini.

The Ambassador emphasised the country’s position in the wake of 141 UN members voting for the UN to reprimand Russia for its role in the ongoing armed conflict.

South Africa was among 35 countries that abstained from the vote. Five other countries voted against the resolution on Wednesday.

“We strongly urge all sides to uphold international law, including humanitarian law and human rights law, as well as the principles of the UN Charter, including sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“The conflict involves two members of the United Nations in an armed conflict, which this organisation has, at its foundation, the responsibility to prevent.

“The United Nations, therefore, must take decisions and actions that will lead to a constructive outcome, conducive to the creation of sustainable peace between the parties,” said Matu.

The Ambassador said the resolution to reprimand Russia “does not create an environment conducive for diplomacy, dialogue, and mediation”.

“While we agree with, and support the efforts taken by Member States to bring to the attention of the international community the situation in the Ukraine, South Africa feels that greater attention should have been paid to bringing the sides closer to dialogue.

“For South Africa, the text [in the resolution] in its current form could drive a deeper wedge between the parties, rather than contributing to a resolution of the conflict.”

The resolution, Matu said, “should have welcomed the commencement of negotiations between the parties”.

“Additionally, the role of the Security Council, as well as the Good Offices of the UN Secretary-General, could have been given more prominence in the resolution. It is understood that one of the root causes of the conflict is related to the security concerns of the parties. This should have been addressed in the resolution.

“Even though this Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly is being held after the failure of the Security Council to address the matter, we believe that the Security Council should still be urged to play its role as mandated by the Charter to maintain international peace and security.”

South Africa believes that the UN, especially in the context of Emergency Special Sessions, should be used as a platform to build bridges.

“This also extends to addressing the divergence of views, providing recommendations and support for the parties to engage with the spirit of compromise, while deescalating tensions, committing to the cessation of hostilities, and building trust and confidence.

“Unfortunately, the text before us does not do that.

“South Africa would have also preferred an open and transparent process to negotiate the resolution today. This would have allowed all of us, as equal members of the Assembly, to present our views and ideally reach a level of understanding before the text was tabled.

“As member States of the organisation committed to global peace and development, we must continue to work together to promote peace. Gestures that merely create the impression of promoting peace without meaningful action will not assist.” said Joyini.