Statement by H.E. Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa - General Debate - XV Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement; Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt
15 July 2009Your Majesties,
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
Your Excellencies, Ministers, and Ambassadors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is indeed an honour for me to address you on the occasion of the XV Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. We want to thank our Egyptian hosts for their excellent arrangements and wonderful hospitality.
Allow me to convey to our former Chairperson, His Excellency Raul Castro and the people of Cuba our highest regard and gratitude for steering our Movement over the past three years.
You have executed that task with grace and in the spirit of solidarity that is an example to all of us in the Movement.
We wish our new Chairperson, HE Hosni Mubarak, all the best and convey to him and the people of Egypt the assurances of our full support for the task ahead.
Our beloved Movement was established nearly fifty years ago in the shadows of the Cold War with the aim of giving a voice to the disenfranchised and the oppressed.
The establishment of this movement empowered the weak and vulnerable in many ways, as the Movement recognized that our strength lies in unity and solidarity.
The world has changed dramatically since we last met in 2006 in Havana. The world-wide financial and economic crisis have affected all of us and have placed all economies under tremendous strain.
South-South co-operation is now more important than ever, to enable us to respond effectively to the crisis.
South Africa has always promoted active engagement with the North, based on the principle of equality.
In this regard, we need to continue pushing for transformation and renewal in these relations, and to ensure the implementation of commitments made by the developed world.
We must also ensure in our engagement with the developed North that we continue to push for the reform of the global financial architecture.
The total inability of the financial institutions to respond to the financial and economic crises and to prevent a global recession, is proof enough of the need for change and renewal.
These structures need to change from self-regulatory unrepresentative institutions, to institutions that reflect the changing economic realities of the globe, which provide a voice and representation to developing countries.
South Africa remains convinced that there can be no peace without development and no development without peace. We must also emphasise that we will never achieve peace and security if we do not combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons on our Continent. We are proud of the fact that Africa is a nuclear-weapons-free-zone. South Africa remains committed to the goals of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control. We will continue to actively pursue and promote the importance of a multilateral approach in this regard.
I must hasten to add that we will never achieve sustainable peace for as long as there are people on this planet that are oppressed and marginalized.
In this regard, South Africa remains deeply concerned over the unending plight of the people of Palestine. There can be no peace in the Middle East as long as the people of Palestine are denied the right to self-determination, and to establish their own State.
We reiterate our call to Israel to immediately cease the building of settlements in the West Bank, to withdraw their forces of occupation to the 1967 borders and to resume negotiations based on the principle of a "two-state-solution".
During our two year tenure as an elected member to the UN Security Council, we experienced first-hand its inability to protect the weak and the vulnerable. This failure is perpetuated by some elements of that institutionís undemocratic nature, both in its working methods as well as in its representation.
It is important to note that this Movement has acknowledged the historical injustice perpetrated against Africa in the composition of the Security Council. South Africa will continue to work hard with the rest of the UN membership, in achieving general reform.
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government,
We sincerely thank the Movement for supporting the declaration to join South Africa to spend 67 minutes in the service of the less fortunate, to celebrate the 91st birthday of our beloved first President of a free South Africa, His Excellency Nelson Mandela.
The aim of the day is to celebrate not only the person of Nelson Mandela, but also to commemorate his 67 years of political service to the people of South Africa and the world. A paragon of forgiveness and reconciliation, His Excellency Mandela continues to direct our vision to our common humanity, and encourages us to strive to be the best we can be to our people and the world.
In closing Mr Chair,
This Summit comes at a crucial juncture for the Movement. NAM has survived the end of the Cold War against the expectations of the doomsayers. The movement faces more challenges than ever now, with poverty levels increasing due to the global economic crisis.
It is now the time for the Movement to draw on its hallmark of solidarity and to use it to enhance its commitment towards peace, development and the promotion of democracy and human rights.
If we do so, we will emerge from the crisis much stronger than ever before.
I thank you.