International Relations and Cooperation Minister Dr Naledi Pandor has called on Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to strengthen the principles of multilateralism and consolidate the rule of law.
Pandor was speaking at the 18th NAM Summit held in Baku, Azerbaijan, from 25-26 October 2019. The summit was held under the theme “NAM Baku Summit – Upholding the Bandung Principles to ensure concerted and adequate response to the challenges of the contemporary world.”
Pandor said the summit came at a crucial juncture as NAM reaffirms the founding principles of political self-determination, sovereignty, non-aggression, non-interference in the internal affairs of others and the promotion of equality — all to support the efforts of developing countries in promoting peace and cooperation in the world.
Pandor said NAM today faces more challenges than ever before in the midst of mounting global insecurity, political and socio-economic challenges.
“Millions in the developing world remain trapped in poverty, inequality and insecurity. The billions of people that we represent today sitting at this summit, especially the youth, will expect us to speak as a unified voice and act together in the advancement and defence of the collective interests of the Global South.
“Clearly, the people that we represent want us to ensure that whatever we do within NAM and within the UN [United Nations], should at all times guarantee them peace, security, stability, prosperity and development.
“They expect our solidarity to result in positive change and not to be limited to great speeches and summits. Our numbers, our strength and our solidarity have to mean more to our people,” Pandor said.
She also urged the delegates to remain resolute and maintain their stance on historic and new challenges confronting them. These include the self-determination of the people of Palestine and Western Sahara; the lifting of the economic blockade against Cuba and unilateral sanctions against Iran, Venezuela and Zimbabwe; the resolution of the debate on the right of access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes; defeating the scourge of unilateralism; upholding the centrality of the UN Charter and international law in the peaceful resolution of conflicts; defeating the scourge of terrorism and its root causes, and the alleviation and eradication of poverty and underdevelopment.
These challenges also include addressing conflict resolution and development in Africa.
This year, Pandor said Africa has reached an important milestone with the adoption and launch of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA).
“We are confident that it will unleash Africa’s economic potential and consolidate its position as a new frontier of economic growth and development, as well as contribute to peace, stability development and prosperity on our continent,” the Minister said.
UN Security Council reform
Pandor said South Africa is currently serving its two-year tenure as an elected member to the UN Security Council, and has experience first-hand its inability to protect the weak and the vulnerable.
She emphasised that the reform of the UN Security Council is more urgent than ever before, given the fundamentally different conditions of the world today.
In this regard, Pandor said, NAM has acknowledged the need to reform the UN Security Council to reflect present-day realities.
“We, as South Africa, will work hard with the rest of the UN membership to reinvigorate the negotiations on reform at the Inter-Governmental Negotiations in the UN General Assembly,” Pandor said.
The NAM Summit of Heads of State and Government is the highest decision-making authority of the Movement. The existing practice is to hold a NAM Summit every three years.
Venezuela has been the chair of NAM since 2016 and its three-year chairship concluded when the 18th NAM Summit took place in Baku. Azerbaijan will assume the chairship until 2022.