Home South African Suspending Russia from UN Human Rights Council ‘premature’, maintains SA

Suspending Russia from UN Human Rights Council ‘premature’, maintains SA

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In choosing to abstain, the South African representative said the commission established to investigate the alleged human rights violation needed to be given space to fulfil its mandate before a decision was taken.

President Cyril Ramaphosa told the Heads of Mission during a conference that the conflict exposed the inability of the UN Security Council to fulfil its mandate of maintaining international peace and security.

SOUTH Africa has once again stuck to its guns at the UN General Assembly, joining the more than 50 countries who abstained from voting to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council, saying the US-led push was premature and will further divide and polarise the matter.

The resolution over “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights” by invading Russian troops in Ukraine garnered 93 votes in favour, while 24 countries voted no and 58 countries abstained, among them South Africa.

A two-thirds majority of voting members in the 193-member General Assembly in New York was needed to suspend Russia from the 47-member Geneva-based Human Rights Council.

In choosing to abstain, the South African representative said the commission established to investigate the alleged human rights violation needed to be given space to fulfil its mandate before a decision was taken.

“South Africa is of the firm belief that the tabling of the resolution that we will consider today is premature and pre-judges the outcome of the commission of enquiry. We must allow the commission to urgently undertake its mandate and report to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly on its outcomes.

“It’s also imperative that all parties to the conflict must allow the commission to perform its duties without any hindrance and interference. The resolution we are considering today will further divide and polarise the matter and the General Assembly itself without following due process.

“South Africa maintains that in considering the suspension of a member of the Human Rights Council, we must be consistent and not selective as this would undermine the credibility of the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council. For these reasons South African will abstain on the resolution,” said the country’s representative.

It was the third resolution adopted by the 193-member General Assembly since Russia launched a special military operation in the neighbouring Ukraine on February 24.

The two previous General Assembly resolutions denouncing Russia were adopted with 141 and 140 votes in favour.

Ahead of Thursday’s voting, President Cyril Ramaphosa told the Heads of Mission during a conference that the conflict exposed the inability of the UN Security Council to fulfil its mandate of maintaining international peace and security.

“The current formation of the UN Security Council is outdated and unrepresentative. It disadvantages countries with developing economies. The entire peace and security architecture of the United Nations needs to be overhauled. The conflict has caused extensive destruction and immense human suffering,” he said.

He said powerful countries must no longer be allowed to disregard international law and that decision-making needs to be democratised so that the Council can be true to its mandate and move beyond the paralysis brought about by a few member states.

“We need to curb the unilateral actions of these countries to shape global politics through aggression and other coercive measures like the imposition of unilateral sanctions. In keeping with our strong commitment to the peaceful resolution of conflict, we have urged the parties to pursue a negotiated political solution to the war in Ukraine. We have encouraged our international partners to consider confidence-building measures that will bring the parties closer together rather than adopt measures that will further alienate the parties and result in the escalation of armed conflict. We are deeply concerned about the broader implications of the conflict in Ukraine for the global economic recovery.”

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor told the Heads of Mission that South Africa’s non-aligned position did not mean the government condoned Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, which she said has been in violation of international law.

“South Africa has always opposed violations of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states, in keeping with the UN Charter. We have also decried the humanitarian disaster that has resulted from the ongoing military operations, and called for the urgent opening of humanitarian corridors and the provision of aid to the civilian population which, as usual, bears the brunt of the suffering when violent confrontation breaks out. We have held these views with respect to Palestine and many other countries where sovereignty is threatened,” she said.

Cape Times

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