Colleta Dewa in Johannesburg
South Africa has been elected to join the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member for the term 2019-2020 after 183 out of 190 states voted in its favour.
The candidature of South Africa was proposed by the regional body, SADC, and was endorsed by the African Union (AU).
South Africa, however, needed the approval of two-thirds of the 193-member UN General Assembly to become a council member.
Speaking following the election, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the nation will use the opportunity to foster peace and stability around the world.
“South Africa’s tenure will be guided by our commitment to resolve regional, global and international conflicts and promote inclusive growth as part of the effort to ensure a better Africa in a better world. We are committed to addressing the root causes of conflict, including inequality and underdevelopment, and promoting inclusive political dialogue.
“South Africa remains deeply concerned about the emergence of unilateralism and its attendant threat to the international rules-based system. South Africa reaffirms the centrality of the United Nations Charter and the primacy of the United Nations Security Council on issues of international peace and security,” said President Ramaphosa.
He also expressed gratitude over the UN’s decision to honour the late liberation icon, Nelson Mandela, adding that South Africa will use the opportunity to advance the cause of the African people.
“This election comes after a unanimous resolution by members of the United Nations to convene a Global Peace Summit in honour of President Mandela to be held in September 2018.
“South Africa will use its membership of the United Nations Security Council in 2019 and 2020 to advance the interests of Africa, particularly the priorities of the African Union Agenda 2063,” he added.
Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu said the country’s tenure in the Security Council will focus on promoting and maintaining international peace.
“South Africa will use its tenure in the Security Council to promote the maintenance of international peace and security through advocating for the peaceful settlement of disputes and inclusive dialogue. We will continue to enhance close cooperation between the UN Security Council and other regional and sub-regional organisations.
“During our two previous tenures, we advocated for closer cooperation between the UN Security Council and the African Union Security Council (AUPC), which culminated in the adoption of the landmark resolution in 2012 on strengthening cooperation between these two bodies,” said Sisulu.
This is the third time that South Africa is serving in the Security Council. It previously served in 2007-2008 and 2011-2012.
South Africa’s ruling ANC welcomed the development saying it was a positive sign that the country did well during its previous tenures in the council.
“The African National Congress welcomes the third election of South Africa as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. This is a victory for peace and an opportunity to address the root causes of conflict. This further ensures that inequality and underdevelopment are addressed as well as allow for the promotion of inclusive political dialogue.
“The ANC appreciates and acknowledges the role played by the 183 of the 190 states who voted for South Africa. The ANC-led government will utilise its membership to advance interests of Africa, particularly, the priorities of the African Union Agenda 2063,” said the party in a statement.
The country’s main opposition party the Democratic Alliance welcomed the election but added that the nation should use the opportunity to cleanse its tainted image.
“This is a positive step towards Africa’s representation on the global stage. South Africa now, once again, has an opportunity to reaffirm our status as a leader in Africa. Our government’s voting on the council must reflect our commitment to human rights and repair the damage of the Zuma-administration. Our previous stint on the council damaged South Africa’s image internationally due to our questionable voting patterns,” said Stevens Mokgalapa, DA’s Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.
In an interview with The Southern Times, political analysts, Dr Isaac Samukheliso, said South Africa is faced with a huge responsibility to foster the cause of the continent especially conflict ridden states.
“This comes with a huge responsibility. Africa now looks up to South Africa to at least do the extraordinary to end conflict on the continent. South Africa needs to be bold but obviously its powers as a non-permanent member are very limited. "Being elected for the third time really is a good sign that the country is influential and has got the ability to mediate during conflict. The election is really something worth celebrating,” he said.
The UN General Assembly elected Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Indonesia and SA as non-permanent members on the Security Council for two years, starting in January 2019.
The Security Council is mainly tasked with maintaining international peace and security.
The United States, Britain, China, France and Russia are its five permanent members.