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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Statement by Mr. Mahlatse Mminele, Deputy Permanent Representative and Chargé D’Affaires of the Republic of South Africa to the United Nations at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on “Conflict Prevention And Sustaining Peace”, in Connection with the Agenda Item “Maintenance of International Peace and Security”

10 January 2017

Madam President,

My delegation would like to congratulate you and the Kingdom of Sweden for assuming the Presidency of the Security Council and expresses its appreciation for convening this important and timely debate on conflict prevention and sustaining peace. We once again welcome the new Secretary-General Mr António Guterres to the UN and thank him for his informative briefing and vision on the matter. 

My delegation aligns itself with the statement by the representative of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement as well as the Joint Statement by the representative of Finland on behalf of the Group of Friends of Mediation.

Madam President,

South Africa holds the view that 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 in addressing conflict and its root causes in order to prevent conflict and also countries emerging from conflict from relapsing back into conflict.  On his first day at the helm of this organisation, the Secretary-General called on all of us to “resolve to put peace first”. This debate, as the first open thematic debate of the Security Council for this year is thus symbolic as it places our emphasis on prevention and sustaining peace before we move towards the task of resolving conflict once they occur.

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. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development gives recognition to this vital link. The nature of contemporary conflicts reveals that such conflicts are to a large extent, precipitated by dispute-related economic development issues, including access to mineral resources, the disproportionate distribution of wealth and power, bad governance, the lack of people’s participation in democratic processes, and corruption. In this context, consideration of the interdependence of security and development requires the different principal organs of the UN to work, in a complementary manner, within their respective Charter mandates, to ensure a holistic and integrated approach to sustainable and durable peace. This would necessitate a strengthening of all organs of the organisation to ensure that they effectively utilise their respective mandates.

Madam President,

Sustainable peace consolidation also requires the strengthening of political approaches including through preventive diplomacy, conflict prevention and management, mediation and peacebuilding.  In this context, it would be necessary to take into account the Report of the Advisory Group of Experts for the 2015 review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture which noted that peacebuilding, “must be the principle that flows through all of  the UN’s engagements informing all the Organisation’s activities – before, during and after violent conflict – rather than being marginalised”.

Security Council Resolution 2282, as well as the identical General Assembly Resolution 70/262, adopted in April, which considered the review of the United Nations Peacebuilding Architecture, recognises the important work of the UN Peacebuilding Commission as it presides over the strategic coherence in international peacebuilding efforts. The Resolutions also underline that sustaining peace requires close strategic and operational partnerships – within and beyond the UN system. By working together, we can address the conflict risks at all stages of the conflict cycle which pose a threat to the social, economic and political fabric of societies so essential for human development.    

Under-resourcing of conflict prevention interventions remains an obstacle. South Africa believes that commitment to sustaining peace and conflict prevention requires adequate and predictable resources in support of these priorities. This will invariably lead to less spending on costly peacekeeping, humanitarian responses and protecting developmental gains.

Madam President,

South Africa further welcomes and reaffirms its commitment to cooperation between the United Nations and regional and sub-regional organizations in matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security. This allows for consistency with Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations. As the UN has already 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. It would be beneficial for the UN to work closely with regional and sub-regional organisations in their mediation and peace-making efforts.

Madam President,

In addition to traditional threats to international peace and security, the nature of conflict is changing, with a multiplicity of armed actors, many employing asymmetric methods. Against this background, the UN faces new challenges in ensuring peace and security, promoting sustainable development, protecting human rights and delivering humanitarian aid.

As we welcome the new Secretary-General Mr António Guterres, we appeal to him to use his vast experience of working in the international arena to bolster the UN‘s work in addressing these complex challenges in the maintenance of peace. Article 99 of the UN Charter calls on the Secretary-General to bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter in his opinion which may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security. We have confidence that the Secretary General will execute his mandate in this regard impartially and without fear or favor.

In conclusion Madam President,

South Africa continues to recognize the importance of carrying out the recommendations of the reviews on peacekeeping, peacebuilding and on women, peace and security.  In particular we echo the Global Study on the Implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 which noted that “prevention of conflict must be the priority, not the use of force”, thereby stressing the need for both short-term prevention measures and measures to address the root causes and structural drivers of conflict.

The Security Council should not act as the proverbial ‘man with the hammer”. Instead, using all aspects of the Charter at the disposal of the UN, including the good offices role of the Secretary-General, we must commit ourselves to doing everything we can to prevent conflict and sustain peace.

I thank you.