SA commits to fight against mercenaries

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The South African government has reiterated its commitment to the international community’s mission of addressing the challenge of mercenary activities and its negative impact on peace and stability.

South Africa made the commitment through its United Nations Ambassador in the Security Council, Jerry Matjila, during a debate on ‘threats to international peace and security: Impact of mercenary groups on regional peace and stability’, on Monday.

Opening his address, Matjila said South Africa welcomed the convening of the debate and selection of the theme, saying mercenary activities are a source of insecurity and destabilisation in Africa.  

“It is an undisputed fact that over the years, Africa has been at the receiving end of mercenary activities, which have contributed to undermining peace, security and stability on the Continent.

Several African countries have been targets of on-going attempts by mercenary groups to overthrow legitimate and democratically-elected governments. Their transnational activities also threaten regional stability, especially in cases where the security of neighbouring countries is intertwined,” he said. 

Equally concerning, Matjila said, is that the activities of mercenaries poses a serious threat on peace and stability of several regions on the Continent, which already remains fragile due to ongoing conflicts. 

“Since the advent of democracy in 1994, South Africa has been part of the collective efforts of promoting peace and stability throughout our beloved Continent. We support the objectives of the African Union aimed at achieving greater unity and solidarity between African countries and the people of Africa, while also defending the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its member states. These objectives and principles are clearly articulated in the Constitutive Act of the African Union.

“Key amongst these principles, is the condemnation and rejection of unconstitutional changes of government as well as non-interference by any member state in the internal affairs of another,” he said.

As a responsible member of the African Union and the United Nations, South Africa condemns all mercenary activities in any African or non-African country.

“We believe that these activities are in clear contravention of continental and international conventions and legal instruments.”

The South African delegation in the meeting yesterday stressed that it is the obligation of all states to take all necessary measures to eradicate mercenary activities wherever they may occur.

“This Council should encourage all member states to commit to prevent their nationals and foreigners in their respective territories from engaging in mercenary activities,” Matjila said. 

The 62nd session of the General Assembly adopted resolution 62/145 on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination.

Matjila said South Africa is concerned by the new forms of mercenary acts in the form of Private Security Companies. 

“Over the years, there has been a clear nexus between mercenary activities and those of Private Military Companies and the negative consequences of these companies in some of the continent’s protracted conflicts,” he said.

He called on the international community to put in place a regulatory framework on the work of these companies.

“My delegation is convinced that we should address the perception around the privatisation and corporatisation of security services as this role should be the sole responsibility of sovereign governments,” Matjila said. –