South Africa's Vote in the United Nations Security Council

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

FOR ORAL REPLY

QUESTION NO: 22

PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO 3 OF 20 FEBRUARY 2007


MR DHM GIBSON (DA) TO ASK THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS:

a) Whether, in view of South Africa's recent vote against the United Nations Security Council's resolution condemning human rights abuses in Burma, she will provide the contents of the UN Security Council draft resolution on Burma, if not, why not: if so,
(i) what are the relevant details and (ii) why did South Africa vote this way;

b) Whether South Africa has taken any subsequent steps in the UN's Human Rights Council and General Assembly to deal with this matter; if not, why not; if so, what steps.N227E

REPLY:


(a) Yes, the Minister will provide the contents of the resolution
South Africa like the rest of the international community remains concerned about the human rights situation in Myanmar and about human rights abuses anywhere where they may occur. In this regard, South Africa's vote against the proposed UN Security Council resolution was not a vote against the people of Myanmar. We also support the call by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Professor Gambari for the military rulers in Myanmar to move the country towards democratisation.

i) The draft resolution It urged the Government of Myanmar to release all political prisoners and make tangible progress towards national reconciliation, leading to genuine democratic transition; It called on the Government of Myanmar to cease military attacks against civilian in ethnic minority regions and in particular to put an end to the associated human rights and humanitarian law violations against persons belonging to ethnic nationalities, including widespread rape and other forms of sexual violence carried out by members of the armed forces.

ii) We are of the view that there is a growing tendency to undermine multilaterism and other institutions of the United Nations by taking issues to the Security Council that should be handled by the relevant United Nations institution. The UN Charter gives primary responsibility to the UNSC for the maintenance of international peace and security. The adoption of this resolution would have set a precedent for the work of the Council, because any member of the Council could bring any country for consideration, even though it might not pose a threat to regional and international peace and security. The adoption of the Myanmar resolution would have also complicated an already overloaded agenda of the Security Council. The proposed UN Security Council resolution on Myanmar would have undermined current efforts by the UN Secretary-General to help find a resolution of the situation in Myanmar. Therefore, the issue of Myanmar at this stage should have been better handled by other United Nations bodies such as the Human Rights Council.

b) Since the vote in the United Nations Security Council, the issue has not been considered by both the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council


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