The briefing from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation covered the objective of the White Paper on South Africa’s Participation in International Peace Missions, what guided South Africa’s participation and the framework that was utilised. It covered the values enshrined and the mandate for participation. The mandates included the mandate given by the African Union, the United Nations mandate, the Southern African Development Community and the national mandate. The presentation covered the background to the revision of the White Paper and the move from the traditional approach of United Nations peace missions to a multidimensional approach to peace missions. It covered the role of the African Union and South Africa’s continued participation within peace missions. It spoke to the forces utilised within peace missions and the coordination and implementation of peace missions.
The engagement between Members of the Committee and the Department centred around the support of rebels by countries and how this affected relations with South Africa, coups, the issue of enforcement, the definition of democracy, economic diplomacy, the idea of being against the prosecution of African leaders, the ability to retaliate when South African soldiers were attacked, the reconstruction of a country, responsiveness, the idea of Africa working as a collective and closing remarks.
Presentation by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO)
Ms Nolufefe Dwabayo, Director of the National Office for Coordination of Peace Missions for DIRCO, presented on the objective of the White Paper on South African Participation in International Peace Missions. She said the White Paper on South Africa’s Participation in International Peace Missions was a policy framework that guided South Africa’s participation in international peacekeeping missions. This framework was premised on the country’s foreign policy objectives which were guided by the country’s vision of “a better South Africa, a better Africa and a better World”.
Ms Dwabayo outlined the South African foreign policy principles and constitutional values carried in the Bill. The mandates for South Africa’s participation in international peace missions were done at four levels. These included; the United Nations, the African Union, the Southern African Development Community and national levels. She presented on the various levels beginning with that of the United Nations.
The United Nations Level
Under the United Nations mandate, South Africa’s approach to peace and security was guided by the objectives and principles of the United Nations Charter. These principles included consent, impartiality, and the non-use of force except in self-defence.
The UN was the primary organization responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security and was responsible for mandating peace missions. The responsibility of conducting a peace mission rested with the UN Security Council while the UN General Assembly had the responsibility to provide direction and supervision for peace missions.
Whilst the authority to establish a peace mission rested with the UN Security Council, the authority to deploy was derived, in part, from the consent of the host country. The principle of consent and request by the host country was essential for the establishment of a peace mission in any sovereign territory.
The African Union Level
In terms of the African Union (AU) mandate, the AU was responsible for the promotion of peace, security and stability in Africa and derived its mandate from Chapter 8 of the UN Charter, which provided for regional organizations to participate in peace missions in their respective regions on the basis of their own initiative. However, any involvement in peace enforcement operations had to be received prior authorisation from the UN Security Council.
Article 3 of the AU Constitutive Act provided for the AU to promote peace, security and stability and encourage international cooperation, taking due account of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 4, specifically Article 4(h) and 4(j), of the African Union Constitutive Act affirmed the right of the AU to intervene in a member state pursuant to a decision of the Assembly in respect of grave circumstances, namely; war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.
The 2000 Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the AU and the 2006 AU Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development Policy sought to prevent conflict and improve the timeliness, effectiveness and coordination of peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction and development activities in line with Africa’s vision for renewal.
Similarly, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) stressed that long-term peace and security in Africa required policy measures to address the political, economic and social vulnerabilities on which conflict was premised.
The Southern African Development Community Level
Ms Dwabayo outlined the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mandate stating that the Protocol on the Establishment of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) allowed for participation in peace missions throughout the SADC region. Article 16 of the Protocol stated that the AU PSC, in consultation with regional mechanisms, would endeavour to promote initiatives aimed at anticipating and preventing conflicts.
Article 2 of the SADC Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation stipulated that the overall objective of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security shall be to promote peace, security and defence co-operation in the region through the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts, in order to achieve sustainable peace and security.
In executing its mandate, SADC was guided by the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, the AU Constitutive Act, the AUPSC Protocol, and the Common Africa Defence and Security Policy.
Ms Dwabayo spoke on the National mandate saying that South Africa’s foreign policy was informed by its domestic policy and the two policies were mutually reinforcing. The country’s domestic policy was underscored by its values and national interests of a democratic, peaceful, prosperous, non-racist, non-sexist society with respect for human dignity, the achievement of equality, the advancement of human rights and freedom that contribute to a world that was just and equitable.
South Africa’s participation in international peace missions, particularly in Africa, was guided by the country’s foreign policy objectives of promoting the peaceful resolution of conflicts, the creation of an environment that is conducive for sustainable development and commitment to rules-based multilateralism. Similarly, participation in peace missions which arose from requests of individual countries would be guided by the same foreign policy objectives and international obligations. The UN, AU and SADC mandates on peace missions were the cornerstones within which South Africa’s participation in peace missions was premised.
Ms Dwabayo gave a background to the revision of the White Paper saying the revision of the White Paper on South African participation in International Peace Missions was informed by the persistent changes in the international security environment, which required changes in the approaches to bring about peace and security.
There had also been a shift from the traditional approach of United Nations peace missions to a multidimensional approach to peace missions. The traditional approach to peace missions had been limited to the participation of the military component in peace mission and the inter positioning of a peacekeeping force between warring factions, maintenance of buffer zones, monitoring and observing ceasefires, stabilising situations so that efforts could be made at the political level to resolve the conflict by peaceful means. The multidimensional approach had come about as a result of the complex nature of conflicts and to address the limitations of the traditional approach to peace missions, in particular, the role of the military in post-conflict situations. Multidimensional peace missions were comprised of civilian, military and police components which are intended to be mutually reinforcing so as to effectively address the root causes of conflicts that had historical, political, social, and economic human rights dimensions.
In the recent years, an increase in the incidences of intra-state conflicts and in the complexities of these conflicts had been witnessed. Thus, there was a need for the United Nations to strengthen its partnership with regional arrangements in dealing with matters relating to the maintenance of peace and security. The role of these regional arrangements was articulated in Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, provided that such arrangements or agencies and their activities were consistent with the purposes and principles of the UN.
The African Union, together with other regional organisations, continued to play a critical role in supporting the global UN peace and security mandate. The establishment of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) in 2002 had renewed commitment to create an effective mechanism for the prevention, management and resolution of African conflicts. Regional mechanisms such as SADC were part of the Continent’s overall security architecture. The primary responsibility of these mechanisms was to promote peace, security, stability and sustainable development in Africa.
South Africa was committed to the mainstreaming of gender in peace missions and in the promotion of gender equality. South Africa believed in the principle of equal rights, full and effective representation and participation of women and men in decision-making processes and programmes for conflict prevention, peace-making, peacekeeping, post-conflict reconstruction and development. This commitment needed to be reflected in the White Paper.
Ms Dwabayo said that South Africa’s participation in peace missions was informed by the principles of a clear mandate, consent, impartiality, minimum use of force, credibility, legitimacy, promotion of national and local ownership, entry, transition and exit strategy, adequate means; transparency and unity of effort and multilateral and regional cooperation: the various components of the peace mission needed to cooperate towards the achievement of the mandate.
South African Contribution
South Africa was obligated by the White Paper on South Africa’s Participation in International Peace Missions to contribute the following components to the UN Standby Arrangement System, AU Standby Force and the SADC Brigade: Civilian Component, Military Component and Police Component.
The level, size and deployment of the South African contribution would depend on the mandate of the peace mission and the extent to which the mission fitted with South Africa’s foreign policy objectives.
In terms of current contributions as of December 2013, South Africa had a total number of 2092 personnel deployed in these missions. Experts, military and police personnel had been deployed in the Intervention Brigade of the United Nations Organisation Stabilization Mission Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, Sudan (UNAMID) and the United Nations Mission in the South Sudan (UNMISS).
The breakdown in accordance with the Missions was as follows;
- The Intervention Brigade of MONUSCO comprised of 1407 experts and military troops.
- In UNAMID, South Africa had been deployed 15 experts, 44 police and 804 troops.
- UNMISS had 17 members of the South African Police Service deployed under it and South Africa would be deploying additional police to the Mission.
Ms Dwabayo explained the coordination and implementation saying that the White Paper maintained that the National Office for the Coordination of Peace Missions (NOCPM) within the Department of International Relations and Co-operation was responsible for the coordination of South Africa’s participation in peace missions. The role of the NOCPM was to ensure and to facilitate the coordinated execution of South African government policy on the enhancement of South African capacity for peace missions and participation in international peace missions.
Supporting of rebels by nation states
The Chairperson said South Africa needed to contribute and bring their laws in line with international obligations. He said there were ‘no rebels who stood up on their own and fought a democratic government’, there were always funders somewhere. He asked what happened if there was a country supporting rebels. How did South Africa handle this situation in terms of diplomacy?
Ms Dwabayo replied that there was a Deceleration of 2000 on Unconstitutional Changes of Government that the AU used as its anchor and legal framework to deal with cases of unconstitutional changes. Following the Arab Spring, the AU had been attempting to revisit and revise this declaration as it did not speak to the current context and the declaration needed to speak to this. It emerged that the African Union (and Africa in general) did not speak to mutiny as ‘mutiny’ and these groups then begun to take the form of ‘political parties’ and then become governments. There was a debate now that there could not be a situation in which mutineers became rebel groups and then political parties and finally governments. South Africa’s role in this was that the debate of the issue had been started and would continue within multilateral and international settings.
The Chairperson asked how coups within countries were ‘stopped’. He said the White Paper needed to deal with the issue of coups within democratic countries.
Ms Dwabayo replied there was also a Charter on Good Governance, Democracy and Elections that helped in addressing this issue.
The Chairperson said it was difficult to enforce punitive measures if certain declarations were not signed. There was a need for clarification as to how to deal with these issues of enforcement.
Definition of democracy
Ms M Rantho (ANC, Eastern Cape) said she was aware there was an international peace mission and there was a need to be part of it. She, however, wanted clarification on how South Africa defined a ‘democratically elected government’ as often within other countries the definition was different. In some African countries it seemed that some ‘democratically elected’ governments were elected by a group of people and not all people within the country were involved in these elections.
Ms Dwabayo replied that if South Africa was used as a yard stick all elections in many African Countries may have to be nullified. There was, however, the idea of sovereignty which had the constitutional order as anchors. This allowed for a variety of processes and endorsements, all of which were based on constitutional acts. What constituted a democratically elected government was viewed in relation to the constitutional provisions of that particular country. This spoke to the idea of ‘non-imposition’ that had been adopted within the continent. It was a case of ‘my democracy may not be your democracy.’
Mr K Sinclair (COPE, Northern Cape) said that democracy could have many manifestations. Democracy in many African countries had serious undertones that spoke to ‘economic benefits’ for those involved in the process. Many internal conflicts were linked to mineral wealth and oil. How did the peace missions and economic diplomacy link?
Ms Dwabayo replied that if the example of the Bangui Protocol was followed, then there would be a realisation of a divided Africa, divided along the lines of its former colonisers (Francophone/Anglophone) and to form an African region along those lines was somewhat complicated. There were various agreements of an economic and social nature that hindered the work being done as an African continent. European powers such as France had renewed activity within the continent as many agreements that economically benefited them in their former colonies were beginning to expire. It was possibly time to revisit these agreements and look at how they were affecting the progress of the continent.
Ms B Abrahams (DA, Gauteng) asked if the mandate of AU involved South Africa being against the prosecution of leaders for war crimes?
Ms Dwabayo replied that the AU was a progressive entity and this was a debate that had three dimensions relating to the International Court of Justice, The African Courts and the UN. The problem with the ICC process was it came across as ‘a witch hunt for Africans’. This was an idea that made sense as conflict was often common within African states. There was a call for the processes to be transparent and there was a feeling that this was not the case and this was what was being called for.
Attacks on South African soldiers
Mr A Nyambi (ANC, Mpumalanga) asked what happened when South African troops were attacked?
Ms Dwabayo replied that there was a notion of retaliation in terms of self-defence and forces were allowed to ‘match the standards’ in doing so.
Mr Nyambi asked what role SA played in reconstruction or if ODA was to be sourced from Europe?
Ms Dwabayo replied that there was a push to use human resources within the continent in order to engage in reconstruction of the continent rather than using foreign funds. What often happened was that foreign powers had a different idea of what reconstruction should be and that did not always fit what the context needed. For example, some ex-colonial powers would not look to the security sector of a country to be bolstered as this would not allow them to conduct their economic activities in the way they wanted.
The Chairperson said the White Paper did not speak to the issue of responsiveness. It did not say how quickly a crisis should be responded to. He asked if it was best to go into the country ‘when it was in ruins’. This seemed to be the way the situation was handled despite seeing what was pending. He said there needed to be some sort of push to move quickly when something was happening within a country. This needed to be done for the sake of women, children and persons with disabilities. South Africa needed to move quicker than other countries.
Ms Dwabayo replied that she was in full agreement about the need for rapid responses in these situations. It was the mandated entities (UN, AU and SADC) which had given these standards. Last year South Africa had produced and interim measure that spoke to this concern in terms of rapid responses to these conferences. What happened in the multilateral context is debates were dragged by individual interests that seem to be at loggerheads and seemed to move in parallel for various reasons. Within the White Paper there had been time frames for response but, however, one needed to remember that South Africa was working under the collective umbrella (AU, UN, SADC) which would hinder South Africa responding unless they moved bilaterally, which was not advisable.
Africa as a collective
The Chairperson said that South Africa needed to adopt a ‘big brother approach’ and look to how Africa could work as a collective. There was a need to look at the economic and political issues that plagued the continent. There was a need to think of Africa first before it thought of France and other countries.
The Chairperson said there were a great number of issues still to be tackled but as the Committee and Department moved on and engaged then these would be addressed. There was the issue of Western countries which ‘paid within Africa’ and dictated what happened. These were the real issues that needed to be tackled as a country and as Africa. He said he felt that South Africa needed to be strong within itself before it advanced to the other countries. This was why he had felt that the African Charter had been a very good document if only all countries had signed it. If they had it would have shown commitment that ‘as Africa this is what had been decided.’
The meeting was adjourned.
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