SA gears up for UNGA

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

In just five days, President Cyril Ramaphosa will join other world leaders at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) as they present their views on pressing world issues.

This year, the annual assembly will take place from 24-27 September 2018, at the UN Headquarters in New York.

The assembly’s General Debate presents an opportunity for leaders to deliberate on key international issues covered by the UN Charter, such as development, peace and security and international law.

Speaking at the opening session of the UNGA on Tuesday, UNGA President, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, called on world leaders to be cognisant of their role as servants of the people.

“Each and every one of my actions will bear in mind the fact that the main recipients of our commitments and decisions are our peoples. We are working for them,” she said.

The gathering comes at a time when South Africa was voted by member states of the UNGA to take up the two-year seat as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in June.  

South Africa will occupy the non-permanent member seat for the period 2019-2020.

This is South Africa’s third term on the Security Council, having previously served from 2007-2008 and 2011-2012.

During its 2019-2020 tenure, South Africa will be driven by the legacy of former President Nelson Mandela and his undying commitment to the peaceful settlement of disputes.

This will be guided by the African Union’s aspirations of Agenda 2063, in particular ‘silencing the guns by 2020’.

At the assembly, South Africa will use its participation to campaign for reform of the UN Security Council, including a permanent seat.

South Africa is also expected to reiterate its call for the UN-assessed contributions to secure predictable, sustainable and flexible financing for AU-led peace support operations.

Nelson Mandela Peace Summit

As the UNGA coincides with the centenary of former President Nelson Mandela, the United Nations, in collaboration with South Africa, will lead a Nelson Mandela Peace Summit on 24 September 2018.

Proceedings will kick off with a number of activities in honour of the late statesman and global icon - among them a debate on peace in honour of former President Mandela and a reception hosted by South Africa for about 300 delegates.

In addition to this, President Ramaphosa will unveil a statue of the global icon in the Big Apple.

Investment drive, land reform

With the economy top of the President’s agenda, he is expected to continue his investment drive - rallying potential investors to invest in the country.

With South Africa’s land redistribution process underway - which has attracted a lot of attention - President Ramaphosa will likely use South Africa’s participation at the assembly to allay concerns.

Speaking at an engagement with members of the Diplomatic Corps recently, President Ramaphosa reiterated that the reform process will be undertaken in an “orderly manner that advances economic development”.

The process would also increase agricultural production and food security, and provide well-located housing for the poor, said the President.

2030 Agenda

The General Debate will be followed by a high-level discussion of the General Assembly on the financing of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The 2030 Agenda is a plan of action for the world to ensure that by 2030 poverty is eradicated, decent life for all people and peace are achieved. –