SA reiterates commitment to multilateralism

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

South Africa has expressed its commitment to rules-based multilateralism, while also advocating for the needs and interests of developing countries to be placed at the top of the international agenda.

Addressing the Council on Foreign Relations meeting in New York in the United States, President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa seeks to navigate the challenges confronting the political, security and economic architecture that has evolved over the last 70 years.

“We remain firmly committed to rules-based multilateralism as the most sustainable and effective approach to the management of international relations – and will continue to advocate for the needs and interests of developing countries to be placed at the top of the international agenda,” he told the meeting on Monday.

President Ramaphosa said there has been a series of disturbing global developments such as the resurgence of geopolitical rivalry, which has not been experienced since the Cold War era. This, he said, has huge implications for international peace and security.
“There is a growing challenge to important multilateral arrangements, characterised by the withdrawal from commitments made in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, on climate change, financing for development and in nuclear non-proliferation. The rise of trade protectionism threatens the multilateral trading system we agreed in Marrakech in 1994 and Doha in 2001.”

The President, who left South Africa to attend the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA73) that gets underway in New York on Tuesday, told the gathering that there appears to be little prospect of the resolution of intractable conflicts in the Middle East and in Africa.

He said the international community is yet to effectively address growing political intolerance, acts of terrorism and right-wing extremism.

In addition, growing inequality among states and within states continues.

“These challenges are by no means insurmountable. However, they do require a return to a cooperative and inclusive approach to international relations. The idea that might is right is wrong,” said President Ramaphosa.

President Ramaphosa said there is an opportunity for world leaders, international organisations and civil society to work together to restore the primacy and relevance of multilateralism.
This, he said, can be done by paying attention to preventive diplomacy, which should be supported through closer coordination and partnership between the United Nations (UN) and regional organisations such as the African Union (AU).

Reforming multilateral institutions

The President said there is a need to strengthen the rules-based international trading system and move with speed to transform other multilateral institutions and global governance structures to be in line with current realities of the 21st century.
This should include reform of the UN Security Council, which is limited in its ability to respond to current security challenges by virtue of its structure, composition and relative lack of accountability.
He also stressed the importance of the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its means of implementation, the Climate Change Paris Agreement and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development.
Meaningful partnerships

President Ramaphosa also urged UN member states, international organisations, civil society organisations and the private sector to form meaningful partnerships.

“As South Africa, we are determined to use every means at our disposal, including our participation in global forums, to advance the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and to consolidate regional integration.”

In addition, while progress is being made to establish a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), which would transform Africa’s economies and consolidate the continent’s position in the global trading system, instability and conflict continue.

“We are still confronting challenges in places like South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Lesotho and areas of the Great Lakes, the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin,” he said, adding that South Africa will continue to play its part in conflict resolution in these areas.

SA’s seat on the Security Council

South Africa will take up a non-permanent seat on the Security Council from next year to December 2020.

During its tenure, South Africa will use its seat to continue the legacy of President Nelson Mandela, whose values of peace, reconciliation and respect continues to inspire Africa and the world.

This year the country is celebrating the centenary of Mandela. –