While the Covid-19 pandemic and East European war have severe global consequences, Minister Naledi Pandor says the world should not neglect the needs of the marginalised.
“Our greatest global challenges are poverty, inequality, joblessness and feeling excluded,” the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) Minister said on Wednesday.
Pandor was delivering South Africa’s statement to the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA77).
“Acting on the Common Agenda Vision 2021 of the UN Secretary-General should become the major objective of this time because addressing poverty and underdevelopment will be the beginning of the real inflection point in human history,” she said.
The Minister reminded the leaders that the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and its human rights protocols,which commit them to protecting everyone.
“We must acknowledge that we face these crises today because we have not always upheld these foundational principles consistently and fairly.”
Meanwhile, Pandor believes that global solidarity is required to meet other pressing challenges such as energy and food insecurity, climate change and the devastation caused by conflicts, including the existential threat of nuclear weapons.
“Instead of working collectively to address these challenges, we have grown further apart, as geopolitical tensions and mistrust permeate our relations,” she admitted.
“We should, however, move forward in solidarity, united in efforts to address our common global challenges to ensure sustainable peace and development.”
Pandor said developing countries, especially in Africa, should not be left behind in treatments where global pandemics such as COVID-19 are concerned.
“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 also called on strengthened global health architecture to better meet the challenges of new pandemics and other infectious diseases of concern.
“South Africa is proud to be part of this solution through the establishment of the first mRNA global technology transfer hubs, which will contribute to the security of supply of life-saving medication for African countries and other developing countries.”
In addition, Pandor said the multilateral trading system must be strengthened to create a conducive environment for fair trade that also provides opportunities for developing economies.
“If actionable steps such as these are not taken, developing countries will remain subject to an imbalanced global financial and trading system.”
Pandor urged leaders to collectively deal with global energy shortages by deploying innovative solutions that are cheaper, cleaner and more accessible.
She said urgent action is needed to protect the environment and the world for the current and future generations.
“Whilst Africa is the least responsible for the climate crisis, it finds itself at the epicentre of its worst impacts.”
Pandor said the world needs to emerge from COP27, in Egypt in November this year, with an agreement that contains enhanced and balanced actions on adaptation, mitigation and financing.
The Minister also took the time to call peace a global public good.
“There have been no winners of the wars of the past seven decades. Instead, they engendered strife, distrust among nations, divisions, a perpetual misallocation of resources to weapons, and increased poverty and underdevelopment.”
She told the delegates that Israel must be held accountable for its destructive actions that have significantly impaired the possibility of a two-State solution.
“Similarly, we cannot ignore the decades-long struggle for self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. We must treat all conflicts across the globe with equal indignation, no matter the colour or creed of the people affected.”
She voiced South Africa’s stance to end the embargo against Cuba, which she said continues to impede the right to development of her people.
“In the same vein, we call for an end to unilateral coercive measures against Zimbabwe, which have compounded the problems experienced by the people of Zimbabwe and have a detrimental effect on the broader Southern African region.”