The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the parties (CMP7) to the Kyoto Protocol was held in the sunny city of Durban, South Africa.


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Statements and Speeches

Statement by Dr. Wouter H. Zaayman, Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of South Africa to the United Nations
Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organisation

5 October 2016

Mr President,

My delegation thanks the Secretary-General for his report contained in document A/71/1. South Africa is the view that the debate on the report of the Secretary-General on the work of the organisation is an apt way to start our activities in the General Assembly, as it allows us to take stock and reflect on the work we are doing as an organization.

The Secretary-General’s report reflects his clear vision and firm determination to enhance multilateralism and strengthen the authority and role of the United Nations.

The United Nations must remain at the apex of multilateralism in addressing the global challenges that we face.

There are many pertinent issues highlighted in the report of the Secretary-General. My delegation wishes to highlight three, namely, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Maintenance of International Peace and Security, and Combating International Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Mr President,

South Africa supports the implementation of the transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development without any reservations. The triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality that the development agenda seeks to address is in line with South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) as well as to the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

At the core of South Africa’s national development plan is the objective to guide our policies and programs in every sector, including on how budget and skills investment and other resources are allocated at national and local levels, to move South Africa forward and to ensure sustainable livelihoods for all our citizens. This will ensure the domestication of the SDG’s as part of our NDP.

Mr President,

We need a UN that is fit for purpose to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”, as is mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report, and the need has never been greater. Today the world is grappling with a multiplicity of new threats that threatens global peace and security and which necessitates the intervention of this organisation. 

While we must undoubtedly aim to strengthen the tools at our disposal in addressing conflicts as they arise, we must also emphasize the preventive approach – as highlighted by the Secretary-General in his report - in addressing conflict and its root causes in order to prevent countries emerging from conflict from relapsing.  South Africa is convinced that peace and stability in the world will remain elusive if we do not address the nexus between security and development.

Mr President,

We welcome the recognition by the General Assembly for the increasing role that regional organisations play in peacemaking and peacekeeping efforts. As the UN has recognised, regional organisations are well positioned to understand the causes of armed conflicts owing to their knowledge of the region which can be a benefit for their efforts to influence the prevention or resolution of these conflicts. Furthermore, they have a comparative advantage due to their increasing political resolve to address the situation and it is beneficial for the UN to work closely with regional and sub-regional organisations in their mediation and peace-making efforts.

Over the last few years we have witnessed the practical advantages of this cooperation in the area of peacekeeping on the African Continent. While we acknowledge that the primary responsibility for international peace and security lies with the United Nations Security Council, it is often regional organizations such as the African Union that are the first responders in order to stabilize crisis situations.

The African Continent is one of the largest troop contributor to UN mandated peace operations. Additionally, the Continent has made significant progress in operationalizing its peace and security architecture. This notwithstanding, more needs to be done to ensure that the Continent is adequately capacitated to address its peace and security challenges. In this regard, we are calling on the United Nations to support and adequately fund the Joint United Nations – African Union Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security. 

Mr President,

The threat of terrorism continues to challenge the international community. While the threat grows and mutates, the results of terrorist acts remain the same – sowing devastation, killing and maiming innocent people; damaging property and infrastructure, fostering fear in local communities, undermining social and economic confidence and, in many cases, entrenching the forces of poverty.

Conflict situations, including in the Middle East and North Africa, have also created fertile environments for terrorist groups to carry out their brutal acts with impunity. The activities of these groups have complicated the finding of political solutions, necessary to the reestablishment of peace, security and stability, and the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms. 

To counter the narratives and ideologies of terrorism in the medium- to long-term, international cooperation must address the conditions and contexts that drive it. Military approaches alone cannot resolve the challenge of terrorism.

The United Nations, with the broad range of expertise and tools at its disposal, is best placed to lead the coordination of international efforts in this regard. South Africa continues to support the central role of the United Nations in countering terrorism and strengthening the multilateral system to take effective measures within the framework of the UN Charter and international law. Initiatives to support improved coordination and cooperation among UN entities involved in countering terrorism and improved coordination between the UN and regional structures should be encouraged and supported.

We acknowledge the work being done by the General Assembly and Security Council in guiding the international community’s response to this challenge. The General Assembly with its universal membership has a valuable contribution to make. Both the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the Secretary-General’s Plan to Prevent Violent Extremism, have added to the tools at our disposal to counter this threat – premised as are they are on not only on addressing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, but also respect for the rule of law and human rights.

While great strides have been made in countering this threat, much more needs to be done and my delegation looks forward to contributing in this regard. 

In conclusion, Mr Chairperson,

My delegation wishes to thank the Secretary-General and the Secretariat for their services to the Organisation, and we convey to them and all Member States our commitment to ensuring that we progress closer to our shared goal of achieving a better world for all.

I thank you.