South Africa takes part in UNSC debate

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New York - Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is expected to represent South Africa at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Debate in New York on Wednesday.

"The debate is expected to focus on how best the international community can support African Union peace operations that are conducted with a mandate from the Security Council," the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday.

During its term in the Security Council in 2007 and 2008, South Africa had focused on developing a strategic partnership between the UNSC and the AU Peace and Security Council.

During the debate on Wednesday South Africa intends on drawing attention to the need for the international community to assist with the funding and logistics associated with African peacekeeping operations.

According to the department, the debate is expected to consider the AU - United Nations Panel's final report, which makes a number of important proposals on how to build up the AU's capacity to respond to crises as they occur and to promote long-term stability on the African continent.

These include the establishment of new funding mechanisms to enhance the predictability, sustainability and flexibility of financing of United Nations-mandated peace operations undertaken by the AU.

"Such funding mechanisms would not only allow for the expeditious and effective deployment of well-equipped troops and effective support arrangements, but would also provide a solid basis for longer-term capacity-building projects in Africa," said the department.

The Security Council proceeds from the premise that while it has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, regional organisations such as the AU play an important and complementary role in conflict resolution and peacekeeping.

It has also recognised that Africa has both the greatest need for peacekeeping and the biggest challenge in matching its willingness to act with the resources needed to secure the sustained success of its interventions.

While in New York, the minister is also expected to meet United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The two are expected to hold bilateral political, economic and trade discussions in Washington.

The talks come within the context of consolidating existing strategic relations between South Africa and the United States.

According to the department, the US has supported many of South Africa's domestic objectives such as fostering economic growth, overcoming poverty and social imbalances, increasing the skills base and promotion of trade.

The US is one of South Africa's leading trading partners and ranks first as a destination for South African exports and is third below Germany and China as a source of imports.

Exports to the US increased from R30 billion in 2004 to R41 billion in 2006, while imports recorded an increase from R26 billion to R35 billion for the same period. The US is the largest portfolio investor and the second largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in South Africa, after the UK.

Minister Dlamini Zuma will be accompanied by Foreign Affairs Deputy Director-General George Nene, South Africa's Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Baso Sanqu and Xolisa Mabhongo, Chief Director: UN Political.