SA concerned about human rights violations in Myanmar

Friday, November 23, 2018

South Africa has expressed its concern about the deteriorating human rights violations in Myanmar and has called for an end to the human suffering experienced by the Rohingya people.

The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, will in due course give a voting directive to the South African delegation in New York pertaining to the situation of human rights in Myanmar, ahead of the upcoming Plenary of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in December.

The Minister is considering guidelines that will inform South Africa’s voting in various multilateral fora as South Africa prepares to assume its non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the period 2019-2020.

The Minister’s consideration for the guidelines is part of the review of South Africa’s foreign policy.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said the guidelines will also apply in other key political and technical agencies such as the Human Rights Council in Geneva and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague.

These guidelines were discussed extensively at the recently concluded Heads of Mission Conference and are underpinned by the values and principles of South Africa’s Constitution and its national interests.

The department said South Africa has consistently condemned human rights violations in Myanmar, including at the recent Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers meeting held in Durban.

“South Africa remains on guard at all times to ensure that votes on country-specific human rights resolutions are not used to engage in regime changes and destabilize countries,” the department said.

Working Visit to Russia

Meanwhile, Sisulu has concluded a successful working visit to the Russian Federation, where she co-chaired the 15th session of the annual South Africa-Russia Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Co-operation (ITEC) with the Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Dmitry Kobylkin.

The 15th ITEC session assessed the progress made in a number of areas of cooperation between the two countries.

These include trade relations in areas of minerals, agriculture, water resources and energy. An assessment of progress was also made on investments between South Africa and the Russian Federation.

“South Africa continues to advocate for more cooperation with our partners in the critical areas identified by our government in line with our domestic priorities. In our discussions, we continue to impress upon our partners the need for more progress on the platinum group metals, skills development, agricultural cooperation and science and technology,” Sisulu said.

Other key priorities for South Africa include cooperation on transport, including rail transport and systems, as well as agriculture and agro-processing industries.

The Minister also held a bilateral meeting with her counterpart, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov.

“The discussions between the two Ministers focused on geopolitical issues which include the situation in Palestine, democracy and governance on the African Continent, South Africa’s non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, and economic partnerships and investments between the two countries,” the department said

The Minister ended her visit to Russia by addressing students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Her speech focused on democracy on the African Continent, the importance of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), peace and stability on the continent as well as cultural, political and diplomatic relations between South Africa and Russia. –