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President Jacob Zuma has lashed out at the rich developed nations of the world, saying they must respect human rights as part of their environmental concern and produce the funds that they’ve already promised to help poor and vulnerable countries affected by climate change.
Speaking in the Durban City Hall on Thursday before Friday’s closing session of the COP17 climate summit that is still chasing an elusive deal, Zuma also strongly criticised the UN and international institutions, charging that they were dominated by the “Old World” developed nations who used their muscle and formal veto powers to block democratic global decisions.
Noting that “some of us are not diplomats, we leave the diplomacy to diplomats”, he said to applause:
“There are those who are more equal than others… That’s the problem we’re faced with.
“And it’s a problem that is carried to these (COP climate change) conferences, where there are powerful countries who… were responsible for creating the dangers that we’re faced with, who do not deny the fact, who have the resources to help mitigate the situation – (but they’re) very reluctant to do so.”
Zuma was speaking to about 400 people – many of them union members affiliated to Cosatu – as part of a report-back session to the civil society part of the Durban summit.
He strongly denied rumours that South Africa had been breaking ranks with the African Group during the COP negotiations: “South Africa is strongly promoting the African agenda in each of the committees of COP17.”
Zuma also said he was glad of civil society’s “very strong” demands that the summit confirm the future of the Kyoto protocol.
“Those who have been debating here (at COP17) will agree that most of the countries do (support KP), but there are a few countries that have different views – a few, and that is the problem.”
It was “absolutely correct” that human rights and climate change were connected, he added: “In fact, the debate about the divide (between developed and developing nations) is about human rights, there’s no doubt about it.”