October 27, 2006

South Africa to seek "synergies" between AU and UN

South Africa will seek to create "synergies" between the work of the African Union's Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council since the country will become one of three African members of the 15-member Security Council on 1 January 2007, joining the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) and Ghana among the 10 non-permanent and non-veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council. The Department of Foreign Affairs is therefore moving to increase its capacity to deal with the extra responsibilities that will come as it takes up its two-year rotating seat in January, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad has announced. South Africa would also be using the "greater opportunity" afforded by its Security Council seat to pursue its quest for comprehensive reform of the UN, Pahad said. Such pursuit of UN reform includes ongoing attempts at expansion of the UN Security Council, which "has not progressed very far", the deputy foreign affairs minister stated.

Pahad also cited a number of current African issues with which the Security Council remained seized, including tensions, conflicts and post-conflict reconstruction in and around Western Sahara, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d' d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Sudan, Somalia and the border dispute and other tensions flaring between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Other important issues being dealt with South Africa would also have to be "deeply involved with", he said, included the Palestine-Israel issue, the Lebanon-Israel issue, Iraq, the nuclear issue relating to North Korea and Iran, as well as Haiti and Cyprus. Such greater involvement in these issues is going to place "heavy responsibilities on not only the shoulders of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but, we believe, on all other government departments in South Africa". The department will now build up its necessary capacity both in Tshwane and New York to deal with the tasks "that will now fall on our hands", he said.

South Africa was voted on to a seat on the Security Council by 186 countries on October 16, with none voting against or abstaining, which Mr Pahad said was "very gratifying".
"We are very privileged and honoured by this massive show of confidence and support in South Africa," he said. (Bua News, Tshwane)

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