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SA says Security Council should still play its role to maintain international peace and security

South Africa along with 33 other countries abstained from the UN’s emergency vote to reprimand Russia for invading Ukraine a week ago. DIRCO

South Africa along with 33 other countries abstained from the UN’s emergency vote to reprimand Russia for invading Ukraine a week ago. DIRCO

Published Mar 2, 2022

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CAPE TOWN - The United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to reprimand Russia for invading Ukraine and demanded that Moscow stop fighting and withdraw its military forces, an action that aims to diplomatically isolate Russia at the world body.

South Africa along with 33 other countries abstained from the UN’s emergency vote to reprimand Russia for invading Ukraine a week ago.

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“Our position as expressed during the discussions of the Emergency Special Session over the last few days, is that South Africa remains deeply concerned by the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine and the regional and international socio-economic implications,” South Africa’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Mathu Joyini said in a statement.

“We strongly urge all sides to uphold international law, including humanitarian law and human rights law, as well as the principles of the UN Charter, including sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The department of international relations and cooperation said in a statement on Wednesday evening that the conflict involves two members of the United Nations in an armed conflict, which this organisation has at its foundation the responsibility to prevent.

South Africa said that it is the duty of the United Nations to make decisions and actions that will lead to a constructive outcome conducive to the creation of sustainable peace between the parties.

“The resolution that we have considered today does not create an environment conducive for diplomacy, dialogue, and mediation. While we agree with, and support the efforts taken by Member States to bring to the attention of the international community the situation in Ukraine, South Africa feels that greater attention should have been paid to bringing the sides closer to dialogue.”

For South Africa, the text in its current form could drive a deeper wedge between the parties rather than contributing to a resolution of the conflict, said the statement.

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South Africa added that the resolution should have welcomed the commencement of negotiations between the parties.

Additionally, the role of the Security Council as well as the Good Offices of the UN Secretary-General could have been given more prominence in the resolution, says South Africa.

“It is understood that one of the root causes of the conflict is related to the security concerns of the parties. This should have been addressed in the resolution.

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“Even though this Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly is being held after the failure of the Security Council to address the matter, we believe that the Security Council should still be urged to play its role as mandated by the Charter to maintain international peace and security.

“South Africa believes that the UN, especially in the context of Emergency Special Sessions, whose nature and significance speak to the gravity of issues we bring before the international community, should be used as a platform to build bridges, address the divergence of views, provide recommendations and support for the parties to engage with the spirit of compromise, while de-escalating tensions, committing to the cessation of hostilities, and building trust and confidence.

“Unfortunately, the text before us does not do that, said the statement.

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“South Africa would have also preferred an open and transparent process to negotiate the resolution today. This would have allowed all of us, as equal members of the Assembly, to present our views and ideally reach a level of understanding before the text was tabled.

“South Africa added that as member states of the organisation committed to global peace and development, we must continue to work together to promote peace. Gestures that merely create the impression of promoting peace without meaningful action will not assist”.

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