International Cooperation, Trade and Security Cluster briefing
13 Dec 2016
The International Cooperation, Trade and Security Cluster held a media briefing to elaborate on the progress made in the implementation of the cluster’s Programme of Action (PoA) towards achieving the goals of the National Development Plan. The briefing was attended by Environmental Affairs Minister, Dr. Bomo Edith Edna Molewa; International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Maite Nkoana- Mashabane, and the Telecommunications and Postal Services Minster, Dr. Siyabonga Cwele.
Questions and Answers:
Journalist: Minister did you mention that there was a 14.8% increase in tourist arrival, and if so, did the recent visa regulations have any impact on the increase? Last year, the new visa regulations by Home Affairs affected the low- turn out of tourism influx. What would you attribute the increase too?
Journalist: I have noticed that several mentions were made in your report about the United Nations Security Council Reform, and as far as I understand this conversation had been going on for so many years, but very little had been achieved. What do you think was the main factor that was impeding on this process?
Journalist: Minister Molewa could you give any updated figures regarding rhino poaching in South Africa for 2016? Was the downward trend that had emerged last year for rhino poaching still perpetuating? It was said that the CITES CoP17 conference was successful, but the Private Rhino Owners Association of South Africa accused the CITES conference of complacency with the massacre of rhinoceroses by maintaining the international ban on rhino horn trade- what was your opinion about that?
Minister Nkoana- Mashbane: Good-morning, I think that regarding the influx of tourists Minister Molewa would elaborate on that, but it should be understood that the pursuit of tourism was never an effort made by one department, but tourism resulted due to cluster efforts instead. In fact, in all of South Africa’s missions, approximately 126; South African Embassies, High Commissioners and Consulate Generals work together with the Department of Tourism and Brand South Africa and for us to continue on this upward trend against all odds. We will all know that from the developed market area there was confirmation of economic stagnation, also confirmation of aging populations in that area as Minister Molewa had noted and the lack of general global economic growth that had to some extent contributed to the influx of tourists. The collective approach of working together had ensured that South Africa had gone against the trend and had achieved that which was accomplished. Secondly, there was a question about the Reforms of the UN Global Governance Institutions, in particular the UN Security Council Reforms. The work was continuing in UN missions, particularly in New York, but political leaders met regularly wherever they could, especially within developing countries such as South Africa. South Africa worked together with other African countries to advocate that ‘we do not shut up’, instead we continue to propose to the global community and leadership, specifically to the Five Permanent Members, that review of their disagreements of the past year or two had shown areas of dissensions had proved that lack of peace provoked the most ugliest face. It was about time that as the world democratises and things changed there were aspects that can not remain the same and that was the reluctance of the new membership for the UN Security Council. In all of the platforms that South Africa was involved with that message was advocated and although deliberation of it was effective, ultimately pragmatism was now required. Since 1945, was rather too long a time to have just deliberated it.
Minister Cwele: just to add regarding tourism as the Minister had indicated it was a collective effort of massive economic diplomacy of selling the country abroad. Additionally, it also involved the domestic strategies, which attempted to extend tourism beyond the urban areas to rural areas by means of innovative marketing systems that was put in place through our marketing agencies, of which were some of the mechanisms that contributed to growth inclusive of the tourism incentives. The tourism incentives were intended for small businesses to assemble infrastructure for tourism. Yes, South Africa was recovering from a decline in tourism that occurred last year, but as you know the Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Tourism had met to deal with highlighted issues, for instance the issue of visas, which was raised regarding the decline of tourism. Hence, to a certain extent their agreements may have contributed to the improved influx of tourists, but ultimately, there was a multiplicity of factors that had contributed to the improved growth in 2016. It should be empasised in view of key issues that these diplomatic efforts have had a target of R50 billion in the pipeline, but already over R30 billion was received through direct investments in the first two quarters, which showed that collective work resulted in quite a significant impact on the economy despite the global economic decline. It was essential that the resilience of the economy be due to such contributions that were made by attracting investments into South Africa. Another matter that should be considered was the peace efforts advanced in Africa, as it had contributed to a positive image of South Africa. For instance, South Africa had maintained diplomacy in both Mozambique and DRC. This resulted in not only maintenance of South Africa’s positive image globally, but in an increase of tourists from the African continent as well, which could also be attributed to the investments made through the regional programmes. Therefore, it should be understood that such collective efforts had contributed to the improved resilience of the economy.
Minister Molewa: A report was made on the overall performance of the Programme constructed by the Department of Environmental Affairs in order to curb poaching of rhinos. That report was reviewed on a quarterly basis and the next review would commence within the next quarter i.e. February 2017. However, the last quarterly report, subject to correction of odd numbers, estimated that 372 rhinos were killed, as compared to around 458 for the same quarter last year. Hence, in this instance there was a decrease from 458. Actually it was 557 for the same quarter last year and 458 this year- am I correct? Anyway, there was a decline compared to the same quarter last year. This was due to the collaboration of work conducted by each department in the cluster, including the incorporation of ICT services that the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services had introduced, as technology was newly embarked upon to fight this. Thus, the requested report would be brought to the next media briefing, but even so the Cluster was confident that it would reflect a decline once again. What was the Cluster saying about the private sector that advocates differently? The Cluster had engaged with the private sector that had promoted that the ban on rhino horn trade was actually generating poaching of rhinos, since the figures that were currently noted as well as the figures that would be brought in future proves differently to that notion. However, national work was conducted in relation to a possibility of trade on rhino horn and that report was submitted with the outcome that South Africa was not ready for rhino horn trade, as much work was yet required. Around two or three areas had been both identified and communicated to the private rhino owners. Also, the societies along with the identified issues that required work had been posted to a six-week laboratory-thinking mode along with the private sector to find common ground that would ensure mutual improvement and manufacture a state of readiness for societies with the topic of lifting the ban of rhino horn sale, whether it was a once-off sale or whichever other option that could be devised. Hence, the private rhino owners should be assured that the efforts regarding this pursuit were not abandoned, if it would, indeed, contribute to further reduction of rhino poaching. Therefore the Cluster was confident that matters could be deliberated and implemented within six weeks.
Journalist: Ministers what was the reaction to South Africa voting against the African Group on the issue of LBGT rights at the United Nations? What was your assessment whether it would affect support from African countries for South Africa in terms of the agenda of acquiring a permanent seat in the UN Security Council?
Journalist: Minister could you confirm rumours of Home Affairs that Russian tourists will be travelling within South Africa visa-free as of1 February 2017?
Journalist: Minister Cwele I have heard you mentioned that peace-keeping efforts conducted on the continent had actually contributed to a positive image of South Africa, but recently South Africa was accused of prioritising peace keeping whilst condoning impunity by pulling out of the Rome Statute. How has that actually affected the standing of South Africa since the filing of the notice to pull out of the Rome Statute?
Minister Nkoana-Mashbane: the last question was diverted to Minister Cwele, but with his permission I would contribute to its answer. Since the notice of withdrawal by South Africa of the ICC, a week or two later South Africa was voted into the Human Rights Council by more than 173 votes as indicated by Minister Molewa. Just a few days ago, the President led the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the Constitution. It is one of the most highly regarded constitutions in the world. Regarding the notice of withdrawal by South Africa of the ICC, this opportunity should be taken to reiterate the country’s commitment to Human Rights and the fight against impunity. In fact, a week or so after the notice of withdrawal, African Courts of Law concluded the trial of the former President of Chad in Senegal. The ICC was never meant to be the first point of reference, but the last point of call. Firstly it was the domestic institutions of law and maintenance of law of order; secondly regional courts were applicable and then, thirdly, resort was made to ICC. What was said about the celebration of the Constitution confirms that South Africa champions Human Rights and the global community still believed this with their 173 votes that South Africa would never condone impunity, neither would any other country on the continent. Perhaps collective work was required to remove the notion or perception of inequality and unfairness in the practice of ICC globally, because the perception would not cease as long as only two of the Five Permanent Security Members were Members of the ICC. Even those two countries, when their own citizens were accused of crimes there was evidence of reluctance of extradition, because there were instances of high-level cases against them. The Security Council had not played its part in terms of article 16 of the Rome Statute with the involvement of ICC regarding security on the African continent. There was no other motivation for South Africa to have submitted the notice apart from the few examples currently cited. Regarding the rumour about Home Affairs, it should be clarified that although Russia was a country member of BRICS there was an open declaration that senior business people would be warranted a ten-year visa from South Africa. However, since the last item meeting there was deliberation of the possibility to encourage ordinary Russian tourists as well. Also, the manner in how South Africa had voted on LGBT rights pertaining to the African group in the UN had nothing to do with the membership of South Africa, because South Africa was an integral part of the African continent. Section 9 subsection 3 of the Constitution of South Africa states that the state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on the grounds of race, gender, sex, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language or birth. South Africa will continue to adhere to the Constitution of South Africa regarding the issue of LGBT rights as well as the crosscutting issue of poverty that plagued the continent including other challenges. Whilst Africa was a rich continent it was actually a rich continent of poor people, because everyone was afflicted with the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality, which were the major issues of the continent. There was also disinterest in the export of raw materials, because there was a need to make use of 60% of cultural land, which were fertile that was lying dormant. Therefore, there were many priorities that mandated collaboration of work for the sake of economic wellbeing. Thank you.
Minister Molewa: there was unfortunately a misunderstanding, Minister Nkoana-Mashbane, by South Africans and the global populace on how South Africa had voted. In fact, as Minister Nkoana-Mashbane had cited this had nothing to do with the South African conviction of the Human Rights of those of the LGBTI community. The vote involved the rapporteur and as time elapses South Africa would be vindicated, because the result of the vote had as a matter of fact caused unity. It was believed that the Human Rights Commissioners seated in that meeting would consider the issue of the rapporteur as highlighted by South Africa and accordingly deal with it differently, because the rights of the LGBTI were enshrined in the Constitution, thus SA should never be perceived as or spoken of as a country that denies the rights of the LGBTI community. The focus of the vote was the rapporteur, as the Cluster believed that the rapporteur was warranted rights to move in any other country and the way that the resolution was coined had cost South Africa to vote in the manner that it had. The focus of the vote was clarified in statements beforehand, as well as the support for the rights of the LGBTI community was extended on a continual basis. There were no negative results emanating from the vote as there was a continuation of working relations, inclusive of the Summit in January 2017, of which South Africa was not only leading the Summit, but would deal with integration on a regional level. South Africans were well understood by Africans, in particular with the construction of programmes that dealt with diplomatic work both on the continent and internationally. Although Minister Nkoana- Mashbane had answered the query about pulling out the Rome Stature, it should be added that it was not an easy decision. South Africa had perpetually engaged with the people at the Hague. . The delegation that went to the Hague had to plead for discussion on how South Africa should handle this matter and were initially ignored, but later discussion convened at AU level and a Committee of Ministers were sent to engage. Of late, the Minister of Justice together with the team from the International Relations and Cooperation were at the Assembly of States to engage on the same matter in an attempt for certain clauses of that law and statutes to accommodate South Africa to exercise rights with the treatment of specific states. Hence, South Africa had posed the question- ‘where were the other member states of other continents that were notorious for trampling on the rights of its citizens’? Where were the Israelis, British and other Presidents who had also similarly engaged with the undermining of rights? They were not seen present there and for it to be recognised as a Court of Justice it should be such in reality for all and partial justice for a selective few at the expense of others. The revoking of the Rome Statute had not entailed that South Africa had condoned impunity. There was strengthening of the laws, which the Minister of Justice could elaborate on at a Cluster level as well as Government from the level of Cabinet, such as laws of extradition, inclusive of warranting right to anyone who had wanted to extradite someone who was undermining Human Rights elsewhere. There was continual work on the progress of such laws and there were three pieces of legislation that the Minister would announce. On the continent there was a need to strengthen the Human Rights Court and Human Rights Chamber. Therefore, it was not a fact that South Africa’s movement out of the ICC had permitted impunity. Thank you.
Minister Nkoana-Mashbane: in reality, the ICC was not the only avenue of justice available.
Minister Cwele: in addition to what the Ministers had cited, the institutions in South Africa were very strong. This ANC Government was the one that had voted for the Constitution of South Africa and the President had stated when celebrating the Constitution that not only was it stable, but it was supported by the majority of South African citizens and the laws it passed ensured an Executive Branch of Government who would prohibit the possibility of impunity under the South African Government, Constitution, South African legislation as well as the proposed legislation for its strengthening. Given the strong Constitution no possibility of impunity is foreseen and the government’s commitment is without any reproach, which is why South Africa was elected within the multilateral forums as indicated by Minister Molewa. In terms of the recent voting and the dread that African countries may have taken a dive on SA, it should be assured that such fate would not occur, as the position of South Africa was aligned with the agenda of 2063, which was supported by the majority of African countries. Therefore, the recent voting would not impede on the standing of South Africa, due to the alignment of the African agenda of 2063. Thank you.
Minister Molewa: as a reminder, which message was to be advocated? The improvements on economic diplomacy, regional integration and peace-keeping; the building resilience of the domestic economy that would be able to withstand the test of time amongst many other economics that were degrading, the growth of influx of tourism of this quarter compared the same quarter last year, and the increase of investments were the messages that should be publicized. Thank you.
The briefing was adjourned.
Create a better South Africa; contribute to a better and safer Africa in a better world”
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen.
Welcome to this briefing by the International Cooperation, Trade and Security (ICTS) Cluster.
Today we will be providing you with a quarterly progress report covering up to the end of September 2016, on the implementation of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) 2014-2019.
The MTSF is government’s five-year action plan as part of the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP).
The NDP is our country’s roadmap towards eliminating poverty and reducing inequality and growing the economy through uniting South Africans, unleashing the energy of its citizens, building capabilities, and enhancing the capability of the State and leaders working together to solve complex problems.”
To realize our collective aspiration of a South Africa in which decent employment is created through inclusive economic growth, and in fulfilment of our electoral mandate, we have developed an outcomes-based approach to our Programme of Action as government.
We have identified twelve Key Outcomes with outputs, strategic activities and metrics that are implemented though Service Delivery Agreements, to enable us to translate our desired outcomes into action.
The ICTS Cluster is responsible for implementing Outcome 11 namely to “Create a better South Africa, contribute to a better and safer Africa in a better world”.
In line with our commitment to transparency and participatory democracy, the different clusters of government have undertaken to provide regular and concise reporting back to the nation on the progress made in achieving the respective outcomes.
Today we will be providing you with a progress report on the work done by the ICTS Cluster in the following areas respectively:
- Economic Diplomacy
- Trade and Tourism
- Regional Integration
- Peace and Security, and
- International Cooperation
We are all proud that during the period under review the ICTS Cluster has made significant progress towards the realization of Outcome 11.
It is important to note that this progress has been made in the midst of a trying economic climate both domestically and globally.
The reality is that the global economy and the economies of developing countries in particular face a number of challenges at present. Nevertheless, as a country we have managed to register notable progress in trade and investment and tourism within the regional, continent and globally.
ON ECONOMIC DIPLOMACY, TRADE AND TOURISM
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Economic diplomacy is a key aspect of the work done by this cluster. To this end, South Africa continues to accelerate its economic diplomacy efforts at a regional, continental and global level.
This we have achieved by creating new trade opportunities, increasing investment in regional, continental and global markets, and overall deepening economic ties with both new and established trade partners.
One of our priorities is to achieve a number of bilateral and multilateral agreements through which we will promote, facilitate and host meetings with potential investors; as well as engaging with various Chambers of Commerce.
In furtherance of our aim to promote South Africa as an investment destination of choice, South Africa has enhanced its visibility on national and international trade, investment promotion and tourism platforms.
This has yielded real and tangible results. For example, sales of manufactured value-added exports have increased by R1.2 billion, bringing the cumulative total for the year to R 3.8 billion.
Furthermore, as noted in last week’s Cabinet statement, “the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow pipeline represents potential FDI of R13.1 billion, particularly in the energy and chemicals sectors. This brings the total potential FDI to R30 billion.”
Ladies and Gentlemen,
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) recent lacklustre growth in the global economy has seen FDI inflows globally declining by 16 per cent in the last year. We have experienced growth of FDI inflows irrespective of this.
The NDP identifies international tourism as a main driver of employment and revenue generation. Marketing South Africa as a premier domestic and international tourist destination has been central to our economic diplomacy efforts.
We are pleased to say that tourist arrivals figures went up by 14,8% in 2016 compared to the same period in 2015.
It is extremely encouraging that during the first months of 2016, approximately R 39.3bn in foreign direct spend in South Africa was achieved. The realization of this kind of revenue sustains the local tourism economy. It also indicates that our country remains a popular destination for tourists inside South Africa, from the region, and globally.
ON REGIONAL AND TRADE INTEGRATION
South Africa continues to prioritise its relations with fellow African States. This is in line with our country’s commitment to advancing Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU). Agenda 2063 is founded on the principles of shared prosperity and well-being, unity and integration.
We see regional and trade integration as a major building block for continental unity. In this reporting period, President Jacob Zuma actively engaged his counterparts in cementing our country’s bilateral relations with Namibia, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
The engagements were about evaluating how far we have come with regards to the regional integration programme. Under consideration is integrated infrastructure development programmes in amongst others, sectors of water, roads and energy, the movement of goods and services, evaluating trade flows, as well as the movement of people which includes skills capacity sharing and development.
In pursuit of our regional and trade integration efforts, the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) remains an important instrument for industrialisation and economic development.
SACU is the world’s oldest customs union with the primary goal of promoting economic development through regional trade. It consists of five member countries –Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and South Africa.
To advance the implementation of the regional development and integration agenda, President Zuma, in his current capacity as chair of the SACU Summit, conducted working visits to the other SACU member states.
These visits by President Zuma were aimed at amongst other things unlocking existing challenges in the following areas:
- cross-border infrastructure
- addressing supply-side capacities and
- promoting industrial development and value chains to stimulate regional growth and development
South Africa supports the continued operation of the Tripartite Free Trade area between the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC).
The Tripartite Initiative is aimed at strengthening the economic integration of the southern and eastern Africa region. It is envisaged it will serve as a building block for the Continental Free Trade Area.
The COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite free trade agreement provides preferential market access for South African products to a market of approximately 700 million people and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$2 trillion.
As part of regional trade cooperation, Trade Invest Africa was launched in July 2016 to facilitate the implementation of an outward investment-led trade strategy into the rest of Africa.
In addition, agreements that promote economic cooperation on industrial and infrastructure development with other African countries, have also been negotiated.
SADC hosted its 36th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government in Mbabane, Swaziland from 30 to 31 August 2016.
The Summit was convened under the general theme of “Resource Mobilisation for Investment in Sustainable Energy Infrastructure for an Inclusive SADC Industrialisation and for the Prosperity of the Region.”
The summit dealt with a number of key issues affecting the region’s industrialization and economic development, chiefly around energy and infrastructure development. There was consensus that member States should work jointly to identify priority infrastructure and energy projects to be implemented as part of the Revised SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Plan.
The summit also elected South Africa as the Incoming Chair of SADC and we will host the 37th Ordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government in August 2017.
ON PEACE AND SECURITY
South Africa continues to contribute to peacekeeping on the continent as well as to maintaining its current commitments as per the decisions of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
We continue our participation in the UN Peace Support Operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The South African National Defence Force supports the armed forces (FARDC) in the DRC with training as well as assist with the implementation of their military strategy.
Given the increasing levels of piracy along the Mozambican Channel it becomes all the more important that South Africa continue with its role in anti-piracy operations.
Regarding the promotion of peace and stability in the Kingdom of Lesotho, a SADC Extraordinary Double Troika Summit was held in Gaborone on 28 June 2016.
The outcomes of that summit included:
- Approval for teams of experts from the Double Troika member states to support the Kingdom of Lesotho with capacity building through technical workshops Technical Workshop on Security Reforms;
- Preparing a roadmap for Constitutional Reform
In this regard we are led by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in mediation efforts in Lesotho, with particular focus on the implementation of SADC decisions to bring about stability in the Mountain Kingdom.
We also continue to be actively involved in peace-building efforts in South Sudan.
ON INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
On international cooperation, the ICTS Cluster continues to enhance trade and investment relations with both developed and developing countries through our active participation in multilateral structures.
We have been elected to serve as the chair of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors and South Africa, led by Ambassador Tebogo Seokolo, will chair the body until October 2017.
The election of South Africa as chair is an endorsement of our country’s leadership role on the world stage on matters of nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
South Africa continues to work with developed countries of the North in pursuit of its national interests. In this regard, an Economic Partnership Agreement signed with the EU in June 2016 provides new and improved market access for South African products into the EU.
South Africa participated in the G20 Leader’s Summit under the theme: “Towards An Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy”.
The Leader’s Summit focused on, among others:
- strengthening policy coordination
- forging a new path for growth
- enhancing effective global economic and financial governance
- facilitating robust international trade and development
Some of the key outcomes included the launch of the G20 Initiative on Supporting Industrialisation in Africa and in Least Developed Counties (LDCs). South Africa is the only African country in the G20, and leverages its participation in the forum to advance the African Agenda.
South Africa continues its high level participation at the UN General Assembly (UNGA). We reiterate our support for all initiatives aimed at reforming the UN institutions, with particular focus on the UN Security Council (UNSC).
South Africa also participated in the 32nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) from 1 to 8 July 2016.
Some of the resolutions negotiated included those pertaining to the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association; Violence Against Women; Discrimination Against Women; Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
South Africa’s foreign policy positions are informed by the values enshrined in the Constitution whose 20th anniversary we are celebrating this month.
Our commitment to human rights and the fight against impunity remains unshaken. We were recently re-elected to the Human Rights Council with an overwhelming majority by UN member states.
We also remain committed to strengthen the African Court of Criminal Justice and the lead department which is the Department of Justice is spearheading our contribution and participation.
South Africa also participated in the 17th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit. South Africa highlighted the challenges being faced by the Movement, including the reform of the UN, the rights to self-determination of the Palestinian and Saharawi peoples; as well as the threat of global terrorism.
South Africa will continue to play an active role in the African Union. In January 2017, President Zuma will lead the South African delegation to the annual Summit of the AU to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
South Africa also participated in the 26th Universal Postal Union (UPU) Congress. This is a specialised agency within the UN that focuses on modernizing the postal sector and diversifying postal products to sustain a universal postal territory that meets the needs of the 21st century.
On behalf of the Africa Group, South Africa chaired the Committee dealing with the reform of the UPU, the adoption of the 2017-2020 strategy, modernization of postal products to support the integrated postal network, as well as a review and adoption of regulatory standards for the postal sector.
South Africa was re-elected into the Council of Administration for the period 2017-2020, a decision-making body of the UPU in between congresses. It enables us to play our part in the restructuring of the UPU.
In fulfilment of the objective of democratizing the Internet to enhance its role as an enabler of socio-economic development, South Africa also hosted the African Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in partnership with the AU.
The African IGF concluded with an Action Plan focused on amongst others:
- ensuring wider participation in the online economy
- the promotion and protection of intellectual property
- the promotion of cyber-security
- privacy and access to key technical resources, such as domain names and Internet Protocol addresses, that all make Internet services possible.
Connectivity costs remain a major issue on the continent. In partnership with the private sector, South Africa and the AU launched the SADC Internet Exchange Point as part of the efforts to bringing down communication costs in Africa.
That Exchange Point is aimed at ensuring that online content circulates in the region, which will reduce latency and improve the user experience.
South Africa was this year the proud host of the 17th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP17).
The conference, the largest of its kind, was attended by 152 parties. Decisions relating to the regulation of international trade in endangered species; combating illegal international trade in endangered species and securing livelihoods of communities depending on natural resources were taken at this important meeting.
An important outcome was the recognition of the need to address the underlying causes of species loss. Issues of habitat loss, poverty, human wildlife conflicts, lack of enforcement, governance and institutional challenges, were raised at CITES COP17.
CITES COP17 recognised that people need to benefit from the sustainable utilisation of its natural resources, including from legal international trade.
A legacy programme associated with CITES COP17 will ensure that our communities continue to remain at the forefront of our conservation efforts.
The decisions adopted at COP17 will also assist South Africa in further strengthening our Integrated Strategic Management approach to address rhino poaching and grow our rhino populations across their range.
In this regard, South Africa fully supported all enforcement related decisions including a resolution to prevent and counter corruption.
The SAPS-led National Integrated Strategy on Combatting Wildlife Trafficking (NISCWT) includes provisions that will enable South Africa to fully implement the compliance and enforcement related decisions emanating from CITES COP17.
South Africa also actively participated in the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade recently held in Hanoi, Vietnam where parties recognized the significant scale and detrimental economic, environmental, security, and social impacts of the illegal trade in wildlife.
Through the adoption of the Hanoi Statement on Illegal Wildlife Trade, South Africa together with the other countries reiterated its commitment to international co-operation to end poaching and wildlife trafficking.
These commitments include actions related to eradicating the market for illegal wildlife products; ensuring effective legal frameworks and deterrents; strengthening law enforcement and promoting sustainable livelihoods and economic development.
South Africa has signed the Paris Agreement to combat climate change, and ratified the Agreement in November this year.
Its entry into force has been a ringing endorsement of rules-based multilateralism; its implementation of the Paris Agreement will lead to a collective global action of limiting global temperature increases to below 2 degree Celsius.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Although much work has been done and significant milestones attained, we know much more needs to be done. If we are to realize the collective aspirations of all the people of South Africa of a more prosperous country and nation, we must accelerate our actions.
South Africa’s economic diplomacy remains central to attracting investment, creating jobs, growing and transforming the economy. In this regard, we will
continue to align our foreign policy work with our domestic priorities, in particular those highlighted by the NDP.
We are all aware that our collective destiny is inextricably linked to the fortunes of the African continent, and we will in the year ahead continue to play an active role in continental and global affairs.
We hope we have served to provide a concise overview of the work done by the ICTS Cluster for this quarter. We want to emphasize again that we can be justly proud that we have a government that is transparent and accountable.
It is our ardent hope that this message will reach all South Africans that theirs is a government that is hard at work
We thank you.
Issued by Government Communications on behalf of International Cooperation, Trade and Security Cluster
Media Statement date:
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
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