President Ramaphosa calls for peaceful resolution of Russia-Ukraine conflict

Monday, March 7, 2022

President Cyril Ramaphosa has reiterated his call for the Russia-Ukraine conflict to be resolved through mediation, negotiation and peaceful means.

The President was addressing the nation through his weekly newsletter.

According to the United Nations, the conflict has led to hundreds of confirmed deaths, the internal displacement of at least 850 000 people along with at least 1.2 million people fleeing the Ukraine.

He said government remains resolute in its belief that the resolution of the conflict can be attained through negotiation.

“It is our hope that negotiations between Russia and the Ukraine yield positive outcomes that pave the way for the end of the conflict. Even though the pace of negotiations may proceed slowly, there is progress nonetheless. Every effort of the international community should be oriented towards supporting these talks, and to bringing the two sides together,” he said.

The President reflected that South Africa itself has shown that negotiations between conflicting parties can bear fruit.

“Our own experience with ending apartheid, and our country’s role in mediating conflict elsewhere on the continent, has yielded a number of insights.

“The first is that even the most seemingly intractable differences can be resolved at the negotiating table. The second is that even as talks may collapse, they can and do resume, as was the case in our own negotiating process. And that even when it seems the parties cannot see eye to eye, breakthroughs can and do happen,” he said.

President Ramaphosa emphasised that government’s call for negotiation co-exists with its commitment to the protection of human rights.

“That we continue to support the call for negotiation and dialogue does not render our commitment to human rights any less. Since the outbreak of the conflict, we have expressed our concern at the impact of the conflict on civilians, believing that war is not the solution to conflict and that it leads to human suffering.

“Our country is committed to advancing the human rights and fundamental freedoms not only of our own people, but for the peoples of Palestine, Western Sahara, Afghanistan, Syria and across Africa and the world,” he said.

Abstaining from voting

President Ramaphosa explained that South Africa chose to abstain from United Nations (UN) resolution to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine because “the resolution did not foreground the call for meaningful engagement” between the two parties.

The resolution was passed at an emergency gathering of the UN General Assembly last week Wednesday.

“South Africa expected that the UN resolution would foremost welcome the commencement of dialogue between the parties and seek to create the conditions for these talks to succeed.

“Instead, the call for peaceful resolution through political dialogue is relegated to a single sentence close to the conclusion of the final text. This does not provide the encouragement and international backing that the parties need to continue with their efforts,” President Ramaphosa said.

The President warned that the consequences of any war within that region will reverberate throughout the world.

“There have been some who have said that in abstaining from the vote condemning Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, South Africa has placed itself on the wrong side of history. Yet, South Africa is firmly on the side of peace at a time when another war is something the world does not need, nor can it afford. The results of these hostilities will be felt globally and for many years to come.

“A cessation of hostilities may indeed be achieved through force of arms or economic pressure, but it would be unlikely to lead to a sustainable and lasting peace,” he said.

President Ramaphosa called on the UN Security Council to align energies towards finding a peaceful resolution between the Ukraine and Russia.

“Calling for peaceful negotiation is aligned with values upon which the UN was founded. We are particularly concerned that the UN Security Council was unable to discharge its responsibility to maintain peace and security. This gives impetus to the long standing calls for the Security Council’s reform to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

“The UN Charter enjoins member states to settle their disputes by peaceful means in the first instance, stating explicitly that parties to any dispute should first seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and similar mechanisms. Since the outbreak of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, South Africa’s position has been to affirm this call,” he said.

President Ramaphosa said negotiating a way towards a “cessation of hostilities” can bring sustainable peace to the region which has suffered some form of conflict for decades.

“The peoples of Russia and Ukraine – two neighbours whose histories, peoples and fortunes are inextricably bound together – deserve a peace that is durable, sustainable and lasting,” President Ramaphosa said. – SAnews.gov.za

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