Friday, 08 April 2022 13:51

Government's stance at UN doesn't mean it condone the conflict in Ukraine | Pandor.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor says despite abstaining from voting in the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council, South Africa does not condone Russia's war on Ukraine.

The members of the United Nations General Assembly voted on America's initiative to have Russia suspended after allegations of human rights violations in Ukraine.

Pandor said on Friday that South Africa was focused on cessation of hostilities through mediation.

"As a matter of urgency, there must be a cessation of hostilities, which would be the first step in a comprehensive response to the humanitarian crisis. We continue to stress that dialogue, mediation and diplomacy is the only path to end the current conflict, "Pandor told journalists in Pretoria.

The minister said her department "thought it useful" to engage with the media on regarding South Africa’s approach to the conflict in Ukraine to date.

On Thursday, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council. The resolution received a two-thirds majority in the 193-member General Assembly with 93 countries voting in favour, 24 against and 58 abstaining.

South Africa was among the countries that abstained.

This is the third resolution since 2 March 2022 tabled on the Ukraine at the UN General Assembly, on which South Africa abstained.

"As we stated in the General Assembly yesterday, wars end when dialogues begin and wars endure when there is no dialogue. We are witnessing the tectonic shifts in global affairs, particularly since the Russian Federation used force without sanction by the United Nations Security Council in Ukraine on February 24th," said Pandor.

"The use of United Nations General Assembly votes rather than (the) Security Council is further evidence of these shifts."

Pandor said global power relations were being realigned in response to the war, and there is volatility in the global economy. These have had a direct impact on South Africa and the developing world.

"South Africa, countries on the continent and several other members of the Global South who are affected by the conflict, have sought to assert their independent, non-aligned views on the matter. We have resisted becoming embroiled in the politics of confrontation and aggression that has been advocated by the powerful countries," said Pandor.

"Instead, we have promoted peaceful resolution of the conflict through dialogue and negotiation."

She said this was in keeping with the approach of members of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) since its formation in 1961 when developing countries in Africa and Asia, committed themselves to maintaining independent foreign policies and extending the hand of friendship to all countries which reciprocated that friendship.

Pandor also addressed what she said appeared to be a lack of balance in the manner in which the UN was being utilised in the Ukraine war.

She said the approach taken in the war on Ukraine should be adopted in relation to all countries that violate international law and made mention of Israel's assaults on the Gaza Strip which was not met with sanctions.