Important international relations events to note for the month of January 2012

The month of January 2012 will be marked by several high-level events in the international relations calendar. These include, amongst others, South Africa assuming the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and playing an important role in the UN High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability, the 18th Ordinary Session of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The South African government will take advantage of the above-mentioned occasions to advance South Africa’s foreign policy objectives, which include supporting the African Agenda, South-South and North-South cooperation with a view to promoting democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.

1. Presidency of the UNSC

South Africa will assume the presidency of the UNSC for the month of January 2012.  Consistent with the practice of the UNSC, the Office of the President of the Security Council rotates monthly among its members on the basis of the English alphabetical order, and the Council is organized to be able to function continuously. The Permanent Representative of the relevant member state assumes the role of the President of the UNSC and his/her staff form the Presidency for a particular month.  

According to the provisional rules of procedure of the Security Council, the role of the Presidency is to “preside over meetings of the Council” (rule 19). However, in practice the Presidency is also responsible for organizing, coordinating and guiding the work of the Council. In addition, the South African delegation is expected to help prepare the agenda of the Council for the month in consultation with other Council members, chair meetings of the Council, guide the UNSC to decisions on a range of issues on its agenda and act as the Council's official contact point for other UN Member States, the media and civil society. The Presidency of the UNSC also offers an opportunity to promote a theme that is of particular regional or national importance.

In this context, South Africa will utilize its Presidency of the Security Council in January 2012 to continue exploring concrete measures for strengthening the relationship between the United Nations (UN) and regional organizations, in particular the African Union (AU), in the maintenance of international peace and security in terms of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter.  At the same time, it is expected that the South African delegation will convene a high level thematic debate with the aim of adopting concrete measures to ensure greater coherence between the UN and the AU in the area of conflict prevention, management and resolution of conflicts on the African continent.

2. High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability

Still in January 2012, President Jacob Zuma and President Tarja Halonen of Finland will co-chair UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability at the UN Headquarters in New York. The Secretary-General launched the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability (GSP) on 09 August 2010 to formulate a new plan for achieving sustainable development and meeting the Millennium Development Goals and other development objectives.

Since its establishment, the Panel has explored approaches to growth that would translate into effective socio-economic development and poverty reduction. The Panel focused mostly on climate change as a sustainable development challenge, addressing the three pillars of sustainable development; namely economic, social and environmental. Moreover, the Panel also reflected on a new vision for sustainable growth and prosperity by assessing strategic solutions to climate change as a key point of departure to the management of global issues and challenges.

It is expected that the GSP will release its final report on 12 January 2012. The recommendations contained in the GSP’s report will feed into inter-governmental processes, including preparations for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio 2012), and the annual meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

3. The 18th Ordinary Session of the AU

At the 18th Ordinary session of the Summit of the African Union (AU), scheduled for 23-30 January 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, South Africa will put forward the candidature of Home Affairs Minister, Dr Nkozasana Dlamini Zuma, for the position of Chairperson of the African Union Commission. The position will become vacant after the term of the current Chairperson ends in January 2012. The AU Summit takes place twice a year to make policy decisions affecting the Continent. The theme of the upcoming AU Summit will be “Boosting Intra-African Trade.”

4. World Economic Forum

The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum will take place from 25 to 29 January 2012 in Davos, Switzerland, under the theme: “The Great Transformation: Shaping New Models”. Leaders will share insights on what has changed fundamentally in the world, explore emerging conceptual models and collaborate on the risks and opportunities that lie ahead. As is the tradition of the Annual Meeting of the WEF, the programme will focus on business and economics in order to generate ideas and the collaborative spirit needed to manage the future course of world economic affairs.

For further information, please contact Mr. Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for DIRCO, on 082 884 5974.

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation

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