Address to the 6th Ministerial Meeting of the Zone for Peace and Cooperation in the South Atlantic Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad Republic of South Africa, 18 June 2007, Luanda, Angola

Chairperson
His Excellency, the Minister for External Relations of Angola,
Your Excellencies, the Ministers of the Member States of the Zone,
Distinguished delegates,

Let me firstly state my delegation's sincere appreciation for the opportunity to be here amongst the Member States of the Zone of Peace and Cooperation. South Africa had the privilege to join the Zone in 1994, albeit as the last Member.

As we gather today it is important to recall that the Zone at the 50th Plenary of the United Nations General Assembly, in the first year of its existence unequivocally reaffirmed

"that the elimination of apartheid and the attainment of self-determination and independence by the people of Namibia, as well as the cessation of all acts of aggression and subversion against States in the Zone, are essential for peace and security in the South Atlantic region, and urges the implementation of all United Nations resolutions pertaining to colonialism, racism and apartheid."

Today Namibia is independent and South Africa is a democracy. Our successes were a result of international solidarity. It is therefore our responsibility to make a contribution to ensuring that the Zone becomes a strong foundation for South-South solidarity in our fight for peace, sustainable development and democracy.

Chairperson,

Our presence here in Luanda, is also further testimony to the values held dear by the Members of the Zone, for it is also as a result of the Members of the Zone's persistent pursuit of peace and stability that contributed significantly to the end of the civil war that our hosts Angola fought in order to achieve the peace and stability that its people now enjoy. I wish to congratulate the Angolan government and people for the excellent hospitality and organization of this conference.

The very fact that we are meeting in Angola underscore some of the key principles of our Zone, inter alia, the inter-connectedness of peace, development and democracy.

Angola after 27 years, of externally engineered war, in five years is making excellent progress economically, politically and socially.
A peaceful Angola will make a major contribution to the development of Africa and the continuing re-vitalization of our Zone.

My delegation also extends our appreciation to the outgoing Chair, Argentina, for so capably holding the reins of the Zone since it hosted the last Ministerial in Buenos Aires in 1998. We also congratulate Uruguay for hosting the Ministerial meeting in 2009. We also want to express our appreciation for the work of Safer-Africa to making this a successful conference.

Chairperson,

The principles adopted by our Zone 20 years ago are more relevant today.
As we look to the other regions of the world, the peace dividend appears to be slipping from within the grasp of the international community. International peace and stability continues to be threatened by events in the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Iranian nuclear issue. We in the Zone however, can lay claim to several successes of which many of our own members have reaped the benefits of stability and democracy. Some of us are embarking on post conflict reconstruction, others have given their citizens the choice through the ballot, and some of our members are about to embark on multiparty elections. The DRC is at peace and currently consolidating its democracy. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau have successfully traveled down the path of peace, democracy and reconstruction and we are confident that the Ivorian peace-process is on track. However challenges on our Continent still remain in Sudan (Darfur) and Somalia.

We are confident that the African Peace and Security Council will successfully intervene to bring about peaceful solutions to these conflicts. We welcome the commitment of our partners from South America to intensify their co-operation with Africa in our efforts re conflict prevention, resolution and post conflict reconstruction.

Chairperson,

We are acutely conscious that there can be no true and sustainable peace until the war on poverty and under-development has been decisively won, both in the Zone and elsewhere. Our engagement in the Zone must at the very least and in no small measure contribute meaningfully to the efforts to attain the Millennium Development Goals. We have the opportunity presented to us by the Zone, to aspire to some of the ideals that our leaders urged at the Millennium Summit in New York in 2005. Key amongst these was the target to reduce global poverty and for African countries to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

The reality is that most of our countries in Africa will not meet the MDGs. Clearly there is no political will in many of the developed countries to implement the lofty ideals they proclaimed at the historic Millennium Summit and other international gatherings.

The recent meeting of the G8 once again announced an increase in ODA to Africa. The reality is that many reports indicate that despite the commitments made at the Gleneagles Summit, actual ODA has decreased. South-South co-operation is therefore absolutely vital for us in Africa to meet our MDGs.

Our respective peoples cannot expect anything less than efforts by our governments to promote the easy movement of goods and services through our respective borders - key elements that promote sustainable growth. Our peoples cannot expect anything less than our best efforts at ensuring that the environment that our children inherit, will be one that can also sustain their well-being, that the valuable natural resources which most of our Members are endowed with, would benefit amongst others in the South, our own membership. We must also not fail our respective peoples by allowing the depletion of our resources, both on land and in the seas, or through the illegal activities of dumping toxic waste on our shores.

Chairperson,

The efforts at revitalizing the Zone can only signal the era of hope that we in Africa look forward to that we South Africans aspire towards when we speak of a better Africa and a better world. We are fortunate to have our brotherly countries from South America, which have co-joined through the waters of the South Atlantic in our quest to seek a better life for all.

We have, as members of the Zone, wisely and consciously chosen the path through multilateralism, to aspire towards this goal. The passing of a resolution on the Zone in the General Assembly only served to strengthen our hand in fostering cooperation amongst ourselves on issues that we have jointly identified to be of critical importance to us, whilst also reaffirming our faith in the centrality of the United Nations as the arbiter in the collective conduct of international relations.

Our peoples cannot expect anything less than for us to use the cooperation arrangement through the Zone to share key expertise and technology in ensuring adequate food supply and nutrition for our children. Our peoples cannot expect anything less than our best efforts at sharing knowledge and best practice in the life-saving medical environment thereby ensuring that the spread of preventive and curable diseases are timeously arrested. The vulnerable groups in our societies, especially the women and children cannot continue to be the victims of conflict.

Our peoples cannot but expect our best efforts in ensuring that this region is free of weapons of mass destruction, narcotics and illegal small arms and weapons.
Our commitment to a Zone without weapons of mass destruction remains consistent and we can be proud that we are a Zone without weapons of mass destruction. In sharp contrast other Zones still have weapons of mass destruction and other are seeking to become Zones with weapons of mass destruction.

Our Zone's collective voice must become stronger to demand a world without weapons of mass destruction, and respect for various non-proliferation treaties.

A challenge that now occupies centre stage in our foreign policy is the fight against terrorism which is intrinsically linked to our fight against international drugs and criminal syndicates. Our collective voice must be stronger in all international fora to mobilize support to defeat the militaristic approach to fight terrorism. We must also ensure that the fight against terrorism is not a pretext to weaken multilateralism and role back fundamental gains in civil liberties, human rights and democracy, even in the developed countries. The benefits of our coming together today and in the future will all be lost should we not be successful in developing and harnessing the human capital that we all share through our respective populace.

We all correctly believe that the United Nations has to change the manner in which it conducts its business. We all believe, correctly, that the United Nations should entrench both in spirit and deed, democratic governance, transparency and an equitable and accountable system that addresses the concerns of all its Members. We believe that we in the Zone on the African continent, together with our South American partners, can illustrate the benefits of these values through our collective support for the work and objectives of the African Union. We also believe that the New Partnership for Economic Development (NEPAD) offers a useful mechanism for our membership in the Zone to promote our respective economic well-being.

We need more consultations to ensure that the Review of the Law of the Sea and the Antarctic Treaty serves the interest of the South.

Finally, our collective voice on the need for reform and expansion of the UN Security Council, without which the United Nations reform process remains incomplete, demands action within our region that projects a Zone that is both stable and peaceful. The achievements of the Zone in this regard must, as part of the broader developing South, reflect our commitment and ability to represent the security interests of the developing world in the Council.

Chairperson,

The Luanda Initiative and Plan of Action is timely in that it provides leadership on the way forward for the activities of the Zone - leadership that tells each of us what we should achieve, by when and it also proposes how we should go about monitoring such achievements. My delegation lauds these efforts of the Angolan government and stands ready to play its own role alongside the Zone's Members in order to realize these noble objectives.

Thank you


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