World should attend to marginalised: South African minister

South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation
Naledi Pandor, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation

SOUTH African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, has that the world should prioritise attending to the needs of the marginalised and forgotten.

“We meet when the UN family is facing its greatest tests.

“Member states have to work with the United Nations to develop effective responses to the current challenges,’’ she said at the General Debate of the UN General Assembly.

“Our greatest global challenges are poverty, inequality, joblessness and the feeling of being entirely ignored and excluded,’’ said Pandor.

Some have referred to this moment as a critical turning point in history.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict strongly influenced these attitudes.

For South Africa, the real inflexion point would be a world attending fully to the needs of the marginalised and forgotten, she said.

Acting on Our Common Agenda proposed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres should become the primary objective because addressing poverty and underdevelopment will be the beginning of the real inflexion point in human history, she said.

The UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its human rights protocols all commit to protecting all people without distinction.

She said in addressing that “we must acknowledge that we face these crises today because we have not always upheld these foundational principles consistently and fairly.’’

“We believe international law matters when this one is affected but doesn’t matter when this other one is affected.

“That does not help to uphold international law,’’ said Pandor.

She said the fight against COVID-19, and global solidarity was also required to meet other pressing challenges such as energy and food insecurity, climate change and the devastation caused by conflicts.

Also includes the existential threat of nuclear weapons, she noted.

“Up to now, instead of working collectively to address these challenges, we have grown further apart as geopolitical tensions and mistrust permeate our relations.

“We should, however, move forward in solidarity, united in efforts to address our common global challenges to ensure sustainable peace and development,’’

Pandor stressed the importance of ensuring developing countries were not left behind when COVID-19 treatments are available by creating and supporting research and innovation capacity in Africa for vaccine production.

And we are also investing in public health systems and producing thousands more professional health workers.

She said that the mobilisation of resources and capabilities to strengthen pandemic response and preparedness of all nations must be substantially increased.

“It will be a tragic indictment on all of us as leaders if future pandemics found the poorest as unprepared as many were for COVID-19,’’ she added.

She also stressed the need to help developing countries tackle energy, education and climate action challenges.

While Africa is the least responsible for the climate crisis, it does find itself at the epicentre of its worst impacts.

The upcoming UN Conference on Climate Change in Egypt must develop an agreement with enhanced and balanced adaptation, mitigation and financing actions.

In addition, she said there must be agreement on a mechanism for loss and damage.

The multilateral trading system must be strengthened to create a conducive environment for fair trade and opportunities for developing economies.

She warned otherwise, developing countries would remain subject to an imbalanced global financial and trading system.

Building a better world requires peace and stability.

South Africa continues to believe that conflict resolution must not come through fuelling conflicts but through investing in political dialogue, said Pandor.

“To overcome all these acutely global challenges, we must agree to a common path out of an increasingly polarised world.

A rules-based international system, predicated on international law and strict adherence to the provisions of the UN Charter, is essential.

she said such a system should safeguard the interests of all and not only the powerful countries.

“Let us use this moment of renewal to reiterate our commitment to multilateralism as the only means of building a better world,’’ Pandor said.

“The United Nations itself must be transformed to serve its role cognisant of current global dynamics.’’ (Xinhua/NAN)