Speeches and Statements
Statement by the First Secretary of the Republic of South Africa to the United Nations, Mr. Oyama Mgobozi, at the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (4th Committee) Meeting on Agenda Item 53: Questions Relating to Information
18 October 2016
We join other delegations in expressing our condolences to the Government and people of Thailand on the passing away of King Bhumibol.
We express our appreciation to the Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Information, Ms Cristina Gallach, for her comprehensive and informative presentation on the work of the Department of Public Information (DPI). We commend the DPI for all the activities it has undertaken to promote the values, ideals and work of the United Nations, and have taken note of the reports the Secretary-General highlighting the DPI’s work.
We also commend the Chair and the Bureau of the Committee of Information for the able manner in which he steered the work of the Committee towards a successful outcome. South Africa’s expresses its support to the work of the Committee in providing guidance and direction to the DPI and would like to encourage the DPI to continue its cooperating with the Committee in line with its mandate.
My delegation associates itself with the statement delivered by the distinguished representative of Thailand on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and wish to make the following additional remarks in our national capacity.
Democratic South Africa is a beneficiary of the work of the UN amongst others in promoting global awareness and public action against apartheid. The world body was instrumental in the elimination of the legalized racial discrimination policies of the apartheid regime, as this issue was consistently on the agenda of the UN and it contributed to the global struggle against apartheid through drawing the world attention to the inhumanity of the system and garnering concerted collective action to end the apartheid system.
Today a free democratic South Africa works with the DPI in the world-wide promotion of the Nelson Mandela International Day dedicated to late Nelson Mandela’s service to humanity and the values he espoused such as: conflict resolution, race relations, the promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, as well as the up-liftment of poor and underdeveloped communities.
In remembrance of this global icon, let us draw inspiration from his love for humanity and belief in the goodness of the human race, that we should take action and inspire positive change in transforming the world for the better.
Turning to the report of the DPI, we welcome the important role that the UN information services fulfill in highlighting the plight of oppressed and occupied peoples and in rallying world-wide support for their liberation. In this regard, we wish to emphasize that the Question of Palestine deserves our special attention. We welcome the work undertaken by the DPI in training Palestinian journalists and in supporting Palestine in the commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
South Africa recently co-hosted, in partnership with the United Nations an International Media Seminar on Peace in the Middle East. This Seminar was held for the first time in Sub-Saharan Africa and helped in heightening awareness of the situation in Palestine, we believe in a balanced and objective manner. It also provided an opportunity for civil society and the media to contribute towards an atmosphere conducive for dialogue.
We have also noted the work of the DPI in the promotion of Human Rights and NEPAD are some of its critical areas of work. We would like to see the DPI expand its activities to include the dissemination of information regarding the situation in Western Sahara in coordination with the Special Political and Decolonization Committee with a special focus on implementing the Third Itternational Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2011-2020). Western Sahara remains under occupation and, as the last colony on the African Continent and it would be important to publicize the plight of the Saharawi people who are yearning for the same freedoms that we enjoy today.
We commend the DPI for highlighting, through its outreach campaigns, the significant decisions taken by the international community over the last year. These include the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; the Paris Agreement on climate change; as well as key decisions pertaining to peacekeeping, peacebuilding and disarmament. Mr. Chairperson, we concur with the earlier views that now is the time for implementation, and that building a knowledge base and ensuring accurate understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals are crucial for their implementation.
As a developing country, South Africa attaches great importance to the United Nations Information Centres (UNICS) in enhancing the global image of the United Nations and fostering a common understanding of the ideals and principles advanced by the organisation in working towards creating a better world for all of humanity.
In conclusion, South Africa agrees with the importance of integrating modern infrastructure and technology in disseminating vital information regarding the work of the UN. We must however, remain mindful of the technology gap that exist and that many parts of the developing world do not have access to the same information and communication technology available to the developed world. Bridging this technological divide is of critical importance in advancing a better world that we all seek.
I thank you.