Non-Aligned Movement’s Gaza stance is right in all ways

South Africa, declared Minister of International Relations Dr Naledi Pandor to the Summit.

South Africa, declared Minister of International Relations Dr Naledi Pandor to the Summit.

Published Jan 23, 2024


The two standout takeaways from the 19th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Kampala in Uganda over the past few days have been a clarion call for an immediate ceasefire in Israel’s brutal onslaught against the Palestinians in Gaza and the Occupied West Bank, and the urgent reform of UN, especially the Security Council, to make it fit for purpose in global governance.

While the latter has been a quadrennial feature of NAM summits since its establishment in 1961, based on the Bandung Principles of non-alignment of developing countries with or against any major power bloc, of its founding fathers – India’s Jawaharlal Nehru, Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito, Indonesia’s Sukarno, Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah and Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser – the plight of the Palestinians, after 76 years since the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, has seen a revival as a result of the senseless internecine violence in the enclave of Gaza.

As a consequence of the ever-worsening situation of the people of Gaza, in which some 25 000 Palestinians including more than 5 000 children have reportedly perished, “South Africa”, declared Minister of International Relations Dr Naledi Pandor to the Summit, “has asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to issue provisional measures ordering Israel to stop its military campaign in Gaza.” We await with bated breath the ruling of the ICJ.

Whether the ruling vindicates the hapless Palestinians, marginalised for more than 106 years since that “Year Zero”, following the nefarious British Balfour Declaration of November 1917 that promised “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”, the so-called Palestinian question festers in between troughs and peaks of diplomatic dissonance and desperate acts of wanton violence.

Whether the overwhelming support of the 120 NAM member states, 10 observer countries and organisations attending the Kampala summit advances the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, the unilateral release of all hostages and leads to an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, is unlikely. But South Africa’s calling out Israeli hubris at the ICJ, contrary to the Ramaphosa Government’s minority but vocal proWest Zionist detractors at home, is a triumph for the matriarchal and eloquent Pandor’s foreign policy. This might stand the ANC in good stead in the general election later this year, especially among the two to three million South African Muslim voters and millions of other staunch supporters of the Palestinian cause.

That the death of thousands of Palestinians has degenerated into the semantics of a callous global diplomatic speak, pitching “pause” against “ceasefire”, shows the dangerous extent to which the world has become polarised roughly between the Western camp and their supporters and the rest of the world.

In the case of our own Struggle against apartheid; remember Madiba being equally callously branded as a “terrorist” by prime minister Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan, when most of the civilised world hailed him and his cadres as freedom fighters? The ANC, even after his release and forming the first democratic administration in 1994, was listed as a banned party by the US government.

Pretoria’s ICJ move and NAM 2024’s unequivocal clamour for the urgent reform of the post-World War II Bretton Woods global governance institutions – a supreme act of colonial hubris and “victors take all” hegemony in itself – puts down a marker for the pursuit of a just world governance and economic order as embodied by the UN Charter and cornucopia of international law and conventions, as cherished by the Global South leaders over the past 60 years.

This included Madiba in his address to the 12th NAM Summit in Durban in 1998, and under whose Genocide Convention South Africa has asked the court in The Hague to hold the Israeli government under Benjamin Netanyahu accountable for its mass killing of civilians and children in Gaza.

Parker is an economist and writer in London

Cape Times