Parliamentary Question: DIRCO: Saharawi




Mr S J Njikelana (ANC) to ask the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation:

(1)      What role did the Government play in (a) providing support to the people of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) and (b) facilitating peace and stability in (i) Sudan and (ii) Côte d’Ivoire;
(2)       How many (a) conventions and (b) treaties from the (i) Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the (ii) African Union (AU) has the Government ratified;
(3)       Whether any of these conventions and treaties have not been ratified; if so, (a) which (i) conventions and (ii) treaties and (b) why were they not ratified in each case;
(4)       What role has the Government played in advancing the (a) Africa-South America Summit partnership and (b) the (i) Bandung Declaration and (ii) relations with the community of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)?   

1(a) Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic:

On 15 September 2004 South Africa officially took a decision to recognise Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). South Africa’s principled position on Western Sahara is based on its rejection of colonialism in all its forms and the support for achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.

Successive administrations have continued to echo this diplomatic support of the decolonisation of the Western Sahara. The latest being President Jacob Zuma in his 2009 State of the Nation Address when he confirmed South Africa’s principled position of support for the self determination and decolonisation for the Western Sahara.

SA continues to encourage the parties to negotiate under the aegis of the UN, in good faith and without preconditions with a view to the resolution of the protracted thirty five year conflict. South Africa has played a leading role in advocating for a speedy and peaceful resolution to the conflict during its non permanent tenure in the United Nations Security Council.

South Africa’s principled stance on the Western Sahara is underpinned by the following principles:
1.Multilateralism and international legality in seeking a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.
2.The centrality of the African Union and United Nations in the resolution of the conflict.
3.The sanctity of inherited colonial borders in Africa and the right of peoples of former colonial territories to self-determination and independence as contained in the Constitutive Act of the African Union.
4.Respect for international human rights law in occupied territories, notably the right to freedom of association, assembly, movement and expression.
5.Respect for international humanitarian law and support for the provision of humanitarian assistance to the Saharawi refugees in a way that is predictable, sustained and timely.
6.An end to the illegal exploration and exploitation of the natural resources of Western Sahara in the illegally occupied territory and the discouragement of the involvement of foreign companies in such activities.
7.Support for the integration and stability of the Maghreb Union as a building block of the African Union.

South Africa continues to render political support and humanitarian assistance to the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic. Under the African Renaissance Fund (ARF) South Africa coordinates several projects that aim to benefit the Saharawi population. These include a contribution to a landmine clearance project in the east of the territory and construction of a sport development complex in the territory.

South Africa also hosted a successful international conference, attended by noted scholars on the topic of the Western Sahara, on Multilateralism and international Law with Western Sahara as a Case Study in partnership with the University of Pretoria in December 2008.
1(b)(i) Sudan: South Africa is committed to ensuring that peace, security and stability prevails on the African continent. Through continued bilateral relations with the Sudan, South Africa is dedicated to achieving the mandate of its foreign policy.

South Africa and the Sudan enjoy cordial relations, as South Africa was instrumental in supporting peace initiatives which led to the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), as well as the continued support South Africa provides towards the implementation of the CPA. The framework of relations between the two countries is expressed in the Joint Bilateral Commission which entered into effect in 2006.

South Africa has also deployed a battalion of 850 personnel and 156 civilian police in Darfur as part of the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). South Africa continues to support Darfur peace efforts through bilateral and multilateral mechanisms.

Further, South Africa is involved in resource mobilisation and governance training programmes to capacitate Southern Sudanese Officials. These include the training the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) officials in the context of the Capacity and Institution Building Project for Southern Sudan.

Currently, the Sudan is preparing for its upcoming general elections scheduled for April 2010 as well as the Referendum on self-determination for Southern Sudan, to be held in January 2011. To this end, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has been invited by the Government of Sudan to assist with the elections.

South Africa is the Chair of the AU Ministerial Committee on PCRD in the Sudan. In this view, South Africa has contributed immensely towards capacity and institution building, particularly in Southern Sudan. In addition, South Africa is involved in the following capacity building programmes:

Capacity building with PALAMA for GOSS officials in Southern Sudan.

South African Police project for the whole Sudan, however more concentrated in Southern Sudan.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is in the process of establishing a capacity and institution building project for Southern Sudan in partnership with the USAID.
1(b)(ii) Côte d’Ivoire: Following the protracted political crisis stemming from the December 1999 coup d’état, former President Mbeki was mandated by the AU, to seek an end to the Ivorian crisis. In an attempt to resolve the Ivorian crisis,

Former President Mbeki convened a special meeting in Pretoria from 3 – 6 April 2005, between the Ivorian parties. The peace talks included President Gbagbo, representatives of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), Prime Minister Diarra and representatives of the Rally of Republicans (RDR) and the Democratic Party of Cote d’Ivoire (PDCI) as well as former rebel leader Guillaume Soro (now the Prime Minister) and representatives of the New Forces. This meeting resulted in the Pretoria Agreement.

Thus was followed by the conclusion on 29 June 2005 of a Declaration on the Implementation of the Pretoria Agreement. Both the Pretoria Agreement and its Declaration addressed issues such as: the cessation of hostilities; the disarmament and dismantling of the militia; the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process; the provision of security measures in areas under NF control; the provision of security measures to members of the GNR; the establishment of the Independent Electoral Commission; the organisation of elections; the restoration of the Ivorian Radio Television (RTI) and the tabling of legislative texts before the National Assembly.

South Africa’s mediation efforts formally ended on 20 December 2006 due to the fact that South Africa had been elected as a non-Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the period of 2007/2008. South Africa was of the opinion that it could not be seen to be an impartial mediator if it was also on the UNSC where Cote d’Ivoire was on the agenda.
2. AU Conventions and Treaties

South Africa has signed 30 OAU/AU agreements (treaties / conventions / charters) of which 27 have either been ratified or acceded to.
3. Outstanding treaties/conventions: Only three agreements have not been ratified, being:

African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance: signed in the margins of the February 2010 AU Summit. Process of ratification to commence.

Convention of the African Energy Commission: Dept of Energy to advise on the status.

African Union Non-Aggression and Common Defence Pact: Dept of Defence to advise on the status.
4(a) Africa-South America: The key objective of the Africa-South America Summit is to deepen and intensify South-South Cooperation and the Consolidation of the African Agenda to the advancement of the African continent and the countries of the South. Accordingly, South Africa participated in the 2nd ASA Summit that took place in Porlamar, Margarita Island, Venezuela in September 2009, as well as in the eight ASA Working Group meetings in the build-up to the Summit. The Working Groups identified tangible projects/programmes which were subsequently incorporated in the Implementation Mechanism adopted at the Summit.

The South African delegation ensured that the Partnership focused on the goals the two regions were working towards. To this end, appropriate common positions were developed on, amongst others, the reform of the global multilateral systems of governance, the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and Climate Change. The Summit also established a Strategic Group at Heads of State Level to which South Africa has been invited to join. This Group is mandated to evaluate and expedite the implementation of the ASA projects.
4(b)(i) The Bandung Declaration was the outcome of the Africa Asia Conference in 1955 in Bandung, Indonesia. A key element of this declaration was the condemnation of apartheid, as well as declarations on self-determination which was a precursor to the successful independence movements that swept Africa and Asia in later years. This joint meeting of Africa and Asia led to the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) which continues to operate as a voice of the South in multilateral fora. The Bandung Declaration also envisaged economic and development cooperation in the South. This was revitalized in 2005 during the 50th Anniversary of the Bandung Declaration by the establishment of the New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership (NAASP) to advance cultural, economic and development cooperation. South Africa and Indonesia were elected co-chairs for Africa and Asia respectively. Using our strategic relationship with Indonesia, we have sharpened the focus of NAASP on eight priority areas, namely food security, energy security, tourism, small and medium enterprises, counter-terrorism, combating transnational organised crime, Asian-African Development University Network and gender equality and women empowerment. Champion Countries have been mobilised on each continent to drive implementation. South Africa has been nominated as the champion for gender equality and women empowerment and will establish a project plan in this regard. Project implementation is already underway in a number of NAASP initiatives, e.g. DIRCO is currently hosting a delegation of Palestinian diplomats under the NAASP Capacity Building Programme for Palestine. It is expected that South Africa will host the Second NAASP Summit in April 2011 where new co-chairs will be appointed, an institutional framework for NAASP will be adopted and the mechanisms for project implementation will be tabled for approval.
4(b)(ii) The South African Government has formal relations with all ASEAN member states and these relations continue to grow. There have been numerous visits at ministerial and senior officials level between South Africa and ASEAN member states over the years and a wide range of legal instruments are in place to promote consultation and co-operation in various fields.

ASEAN member states view South Africa as a gateway to economic relations with the rest of the African continent. However, there is concern over the current trade imbalance in excess of 3:1 in favour of ASEAN countries. This situation needs to be addressed and it is included on the agenda of all high level meetings. The ASEAN region has a combined population of about .5 billion and their economies have been fast growing in recent years, even taking the economic slowdown into consideration. They offer excellent market opportunities.

On 15 December 2008, the ASEAN Charter entered into force. The Charter provides the legal and institutional framework for ASEAN to be a more rules-based, effective and people-centred organisation paving the way for realising an ASEAN Community by 2015. The first phase of a Free Trade Zone has been in place since January 2010. DIRCO, through its Missions in ASEAN member states, continues to monitor and report on developments in ASEAN as well as its member states.