Remarks by Minister of Defence znd Military Veterans, Thandi Modise, on the occasion of the 6th United Nations Partnership for Technology In Peacekeeping Symposium, CSIR Pretoria, 21 June 2022.
USGs Jean-Pierre Lacroix, and Atul Khare;
Ministers and Deputy Ministers present
Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Mr Thabang Makwetla;
Secretary for Defence, Miss Sonto Gladys Kudjoe;
Chief of the South African National Defence Force, General Rudzani Maphanywa;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
We participate in this symposium under the theme: Informed. Aware. Effective. Simply put no conflict, no situation of relations should arise without proper appreciation; and efforts to prevent, deliberate and resolve the causes. No part of the world should see own peace and progress in isolation of their neighbours. An island of peace will never survive in a sea of war!
All of us gathered at this 6th United Nations Partnership for Technology in Peacekeeping Symposium, appreciate the urgency of the moment and the need to act in partnership in pursuit of global peace.
The United Nations, and all member states, owe it to the citizens of the world to redouble our collective efforts and to do more than what we have been doing so far in the search for permanent peace in all affected regions. This symposium is an opportune moment for all of us to strengthen our strategies and sharpen our response.
For the rest of this week, we will be gathered under one room to answer one fundamental question: What must be done to strengthen our capacity to ensure effective peace-keeping in all parts of the world that are ravaged by wars? I am absolutely certain that at the end of this week, we will be able to respond directly and practically to this crucial question.
Ladies and gentlemen, South Africa remains a significant continental actor and major contributor to peace keeping operations on the continent. Members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) have been deployed to numerous peace missions since 1999 such as Lesotho, Sudan, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique. South Africa is the leading African country in the deployment of officers in peacekeeping missions.
Since the dawn of freedom and democracy in 1994, legitimate expectations have grown about South Africa’s role in international affairs. These expectations have included the hope that South Africa will play a leading role in global efforts towards peaceful resolutions of conflicts across the globe as well as post-conflict interventions.
I can state without any fear of contradiction that the United Nations Peacekeeping remains the only effective instrument at the disposal of the UN and the international community, to secure and ensure international peace and security.
Peacekeeping has been a central and powerful mechanism in stopping violent conflicts, resolving political disputes, preventing outbreak of conflict and in ensuring post conflict reconstruction and development. Peacekeeping has made tremendous advances and achieved monumental successes in the protection of civilians and reducing sexual and gender-based violence as well as sexual exploitation and abuse.
We are acutely aware that in many situations of war and conflict, rape is used as a weapon of war. Women become, not only collateral damage, but also spoils of war! At the same time, we must be intolerant of instances where those involved in peacekeeping become the new abusers of women in countries where they have been deployed. This is a betrayal of the local communities and of the peacekeeping mission itself.
Ladies and gentlemen, peacekeeping has contributed meaningfully and significantly in getting leaders of warring sides to reach negotiated settlements and to establish lasting peace and security in conflict-ridden countries or those emerging from conflict. The UN intervenes in difficult conflict cases and peacekeepers are, on most occasions, deployed in the frontline of these conflicts where peace is hardest to achieve. Despite the difficult nature of their deployment environment, UN Peacekeeping continues to score significant successes in securing lasting peace and security, supporting political processes, protecting hundreds of civilians, and guaranteeing ceasefires.
Programme Director, UN Peacekeeping operates in a difficult and risky terrain, especially for those deployed. In worst peacekeepers operate in environments characterised by protracted conflicts, elusive political solutions, increasingly dangerous environments, rising peacekeeping fatalities, and broad and complex mandates. Other challenges relate to new threats of violent extremism and terrorism, improvised explosive devices, digital-technology-related threats, fake news and misinformation, as well as equipment and financial resource gaps.
Thus we need to find both resources and technological solutions to protect the peacekeeper in this ever evolving type of war. In this regard, we appreciate the fact that doctrine development as well as techniques and tactics need to be adjusted by an inclusive conclave of peacekeepers in these trying environments.
The Action for Peace (A4P) and its declaration of shared commitments, including the A4P+ priorities for 2021-2023, is a very welcome initiative that South Africa has aligned itself with, which seeks, at its very core, to refocus peacekeeping with more targeted mandates, make peacekeeping operations stronger and safer, and mobilize support for political solutions and better equipped and trained peacekeeping forces.
Programme Director, as Africa we are making a scared pledge to seek and do everything in our power to silence the guns by 2063. Consistent with the African Union’s Agenda 2063, we believe that a peaceful and prosperous Africa is possible. We are, therefore, making a clarion call to all peace-loving people of the world to lend a hand to Africa’s determined efforts to end all wars, conflict, gender-based violence, and to prevent genocide on our continent.
Together with the international community and the backing of the UN, we are confident that this goal is within reach.
Previous initiatives and this symposium remain critical to empowering UN Peacekeeping to be able to respond to, and address, the challenges currently experienced by peacekeeping operations.
It is of utmost importance for Member States, as partners in peacekeeping and troop and police contributing countries, to demonstrate political will and intent to invest in a well-equipped, better trained, well-financed and a strengthened UN Peacekeeping architecture. South Africa challenged at the moment has political and will to improve in this regard.
We support the ongoing UN reforms for a strengthened UN Peacekeeping and Peace-building Architecture. As one of the leading troop and police contributing countries, South Africa reiterates its commitment to this ideal.
Similarly, South Africa is committed to the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2518 (2020), which focuses on the importance of enhancing the safety and security of UN peacekeepers. Its full implementation by all relevant stakeholders will go a long way to ensuring that challenges to peacekeeping are effectively addressed.
South Africa continues to call for enhanced measures to address casualties caused by occupational safety and health hazards, including through the implementation of the comprehensive Secretariat-wide occupational and health framework. It is in the interests of all Member States to have a consolidated occupational safety and health incident reporting system to collect information, record data and take remedial action.
Once again, South Africa reiterates the critical importance of enhanced support to peacekeepers to mitigate attacks and threats through appropriate training and capacity building, as well as through the use of modern and smart technology. It is imperative that the UN forms part of the pre-deployment training of contingents, in order to enhance the level of training of troops.
I wish to commend all nations for their participation in this symposium and other peace-keeping initiatives. This demonstrates the political will and the commitment by member states to play their part in the implementation of the A4P+ and its declaration of shared commitments for a stronger UN peacekeeping and peace-building architecture. I am confident that this will contribute towards strengthening UN peacekeeping.
South Africa believes that the pledges member states make, consistent with the current and emerging capability requirements and mobile medical capabilities for UN peacekeeping as identified, will steer the peacekeeping reform and strengthening efforts in the right direction.
As one of the champions of Women, Peace and Security agenda, South Africa underlines the dire need to ensure a safe, enabling and gender-sensitive working environment for women in peacekeeping. Most importantly, South Africa is in support of identifying measures to eradicate barriers to full, effective, equal, and meaningful participation of women in peacekeeping operations, including their appointment in and deployment as senior mission leadership.
Likewise, in demonstrating commitment to the reform agenda and the strengthening of UN peacekeeping, South Africa joined the Group of Friends on the Safety and Security of UN Peacekeepers of like-minded countries, which is in pursuit of the overarching objective of ensuring the safety and security of our peacekeepers.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my fervent hope that this symposium will deliver outcomes that will significantly contribute to strengthened and better performing peacekeeping operations. Our expectation is that this gathering will produce measures that will create new and sustainable partnerships, strengthening existing ones and lead to a broader implementation of the peacekeeping reform priorities, particularly in line with the Action for Peacekeeping initiative for 2021 -2023 (A4P+)
South Africa expresses its support for this initiative and commitment to efforts that will lead to a better performing, better trained and efficient UN peacekeeping and peace building architecture.
I thank you.