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 Ms. Nosiviwe Noluthando Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans of South Africa,  on the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on “Prevention and Resolution of Conflicts in the Great Lakes Region” in Connection with Agenda Item “Maintenance of Peace and Security”

21 March 2016

Mr. President,

AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for the Great Lakes, Mr Said Djinnit,

Let me join other speakers in congratulating the Republic of Angola as President of the United Nations Security Council for convening this thought provoking and timely debate.   We also recognize your vital role as Chair of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region in steering and leading all the relevant stakeholders towards peace and stability in the region.

South Africa has always recognized the importance and the urgency of peace, security and development in the region.  For the Great Lakes region to thrive, regional and sub-regional organizations, working with the United Nations, should work in a coordinated manner in order to achieve stability.

Mr President, turning to an issue in the Great Lakes region with which we are all concerned,

Following the visit of the African Union High Level delegation to Burundi led by President Zuma, we are encouraged to note that all the relevant stakeholders, including the Government of Burundi, the opposition and civil society agree that inclusive political dialogue is the only means by which to address political differences confronting their country. South Africa believes that the people and the Government of Burundi have the ability to overcome their challenges through inclusive national dialogue as well as peaceful political means just as they had shown with the Arusha Agreement, which ended the civil war that had killed thousands of Burundians. 

We also welcome the mediation efforts led by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, on behalf of the EAC, particularly with regard to the need to ensure that all stakeholders in Burundi participate in the Inclusive Dialogue and actively preserve the gains of the Arusha Agreement.

South Africa equally acknowledges the effort presented by the East Africa Community (EAC) in reinforcing the mediation process by appointing former President of Tanzania, His Excellency Mr Bejamin Mkapa, to further expedited the peace process in Burundi.

We call upon the international community to provide support to the Government of Burundi by making resources available so as to keep the momentum of peace consolidation going.

Mr President, regarding the issue of natural resources in the region,

We are all aware that Africa and the Great Lakes region in particular, is endowed with rich natural resources as well as fertile land for agricultural purposes and therefore holds immense potential to ensure economic prosperity and development.  The Congo River, for example, could provide half the energy needs of the African continent. The mineral resources of the land have the potential to make this region the epicenter of commerce in the African continent.

Unfortunately, its true potential has not been realized as the sub-region has been plagued by endless conflicts. It is perhaps because of the abundance of wealth that it is threatened by instability, as there is often a paradox where resource rich countries are threatened with stagnation, less growth and instability partly as a result of exploitation of these resources often by those outside the region.   We therefore encourage greater responsibility and national ownership of these resources, good governance and greater investment in order to grow all sectors of these economies. It is important to realize that peace and stability is dependent on development and vice versa.

Mr President, 

The Republic of South Africa wishes to make the following observations and remarks pertaining to the security situation in the Great Lakes region:

First, South Africa recognizes that there has been relative improvement of the security situation in the eastern DRC, through reduction of the threat posed by Congolese and foreign armed groups;

Second, we acknowledge that not all the negative forces have been disarmed in the eastern DRC;

Third, we further recognize that some negative forces have found refuge in neighbouring countries and that efforts to realize their repatriation are under way;

Fourth, we are concerned about the possible broadening of the Islamisation of some aspect of the conflict in the region;

Fifth, we note that recently, there have been allegations of interference in the internal affairs of neighbouring states in the region and that these have been met with counter accusations. 

Mr President,

It is the view of the Republic of South Africa that the attainment of total neutralization of the negative forces in the Eastern DRC requires optimum utilization of military resources deployed in the DRC.

South Africa believes the objective of neutralization of negative forces should not be perceived as only implying the use of force against the armed groups but also include application of all possible methods of influencing the negative forces to renounce violence as a means towards attaining their objectives; and to opt to disarm and demobilize. This would enable the fast-tracking of the process of restoration and consolidation of State Authority in the eastern DRC. South Africa supports the extension of the mandate of MONUSCO taking into account the concerns of the government of the DRC.

As the international community, collectively, we need go back to basics and identify the root causes to the conflict in the Great lakes region.  In addition to the resource paradox mentioned earlier, we should also take into account the interwoven interest groups whose pursuit for power and natural resources overshadow the importance of developing the area and redistributing the wealth of the land to the people of the region so that they too, like many societies in the world, can thrive and live a prosperous life.

We also need to provide as much support to these countries as they emerge from crisis in order to prevent relapse into conflict, which typifies the instability in the region. Therefore, we call on the UN Peacebuilding Commission to do all it can to advocate for assistance in post conflict reconstruction in affected countries of the region 

Mr President,

South Africa has committed to work towards an African continent that is unified and free and where its people will be able to thrive and realize their true potential as members of the global society. The stability, and prosperity of the Great Lakes Region is at the heart of this endeavor. 

I thank you.