South Africa ready to take up two-year seat in the UN Security Council

A general view of a United Nations Security Council meeting at the UN headquarters in New York. File picture: Li Muzi: Xinhua

Today, South Africa will be seeking election at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York to serve as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) for the period 2019-2020 (1 January 2019-31 December 2020). South Africa requires a two-thirds majority of the total number of UN member states to be successfully elected.

Since being endorsed by the African Union (AU) to take up the one seat in the UNSC for the African Group (currently held by Ethiopia), we have embarked on an intensive lobbying process to secure a two-year tenure at the UNSC. We have recently received wide support for our candidature from UN member states that have been confirmed during our global lobbying campaign. We are therefore fully confident that we will once again garner universal support for our candidacy as we did for our two earlier tenures on the Security Council in 2007-2008 and 2011-2012.

South Africa’s candidature to the UNSC is significant as it coincides with the country’s commemoration of the centenary of our own icon President Nelson Mandela, who dedicated his entire life to the promotion of peace and democracy and Human Rights. South Africa’s tenure in the Security Council will thus be dedicated to the legacy of President Mandela and his commitment to dialogue and  negotiations in the settlement of disputes. We will also use our tenure to work towards achieving the African Union goal of “silencing the guns” by 2020-an objective that resonates with our own legacy-an objective we are eager to see achieved throughout the world.

We have used all our diplomatic and security efforts at conflict resolution with an emphasis on prevention, mediation, and peace-building. We firmly believe that, while we must strengthen the tools at the Security Council’s disposal in addressing conflicts as they arise, the focus must be on preventative diplomacy and on addressing the root causes of conflicts.

UN peacekeeping remains one of the flagship activities at the disposal of the UN to contribute to peace, security and stability. Since the UN’s inception, peacekeeping has provided essential security and much needed hope and support to many people and countries around the world emerging from conflict.

South Africa has extensive experience in contributing towards conflict resolution including in peacekeeping. We have deployed troops to Burundi as part of the African Union (AU) mission which was re-hatted to form the basis of the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB). We have also been deploying troops to the UN Missions in the DRC since 1999. Over the years, South African forces have served in 14 international peace operations, including seven UN peacekeeping missions. In the 21st century, South Africa has emerged as a major provider of uniformed UN peacekeepers, with annual contributions consistently ranging between 1 500 to 2 500. At present, South Africa is a top twenty troop contributing country (TCC) to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UNDPKO).

South Africa is a proponent of participation of women in peace negotiations, peacekeeping operations, post-conflict peacebuilding and governance. During our tenure, we will ensure that a gender perspective is mainstreamed into Security Council resolutions.

As in our previous two terms on the Security Council, South Africa will place emphasis on promoting cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of the UNSC in the addressing challenges of peace and security. The adoption of the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 2033, in 2012 on cooperation between the UNSC and the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), remains one of our major achievements. We will continue to advocate for closer cooperation between the two bodies.

During our tenure, we will continue to work together with all the members of the UN in pursuit of effective global governance, multilateralism and the reform of the UN.  We believe that the UN is the embodiment of the international community’s will to attain and maintain international peace and security, and to promote the economic and social well-being of all nations.

We will also continue to work towards improving the working methods of the Security Council to make it a more legitimate, representative and effective body. South Africa regards the UNSC as the primary body for the maintenance of global political stability, peace and security.

As we assume the non-permanent seat, we look forward to collaborating with all countries in fulfilling the mandate of the UN Security Council. We do this out of necessity and the willingness to lend a hand to keep peace.

Lindiwe Sisulu is the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation