A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
DEFENCE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
15 February 2005
SADC MUTUAL DEFENCE PACT, PROTOCOL ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD: PROPOSED RATIFICATION
Chairperson: Professor K Asmal
SADC Mutual Defence Pact: PowerPoint presentation
Protocol on the Rights of the Child on involvement of children in armed conflicts: PowerPoint presentation
The Department briefed the Committee on the SADC Mutual Defence Pact, and the Protocol on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts. The Committee agreed to ratify the Pact with reservation on Article 8. The Chairperson had recommended that a provision be included in Article 8 which would not preclude SA from granting asylum or refugee status to a person or group provided that they were not engaged in plotting to overthrow or destabilise a country. The Committee unanimously supported the ratification of the Protocol.
The Chairperson informed the Committee that the Department had requested that the discussion on the National Conventional Arms Control Committee Annual Report 2003 be postponed as the Minister had yet to approve the briefing document. Professor Asmal said that the request was surprising as the Report was available on the Department’s website.
SADC Mutual Defence Pact briefing
The Department delegation consisted of Mr Motumi, Mr Sendel, Mr Rathebe and Ms Ndwaba. Mr Motumi initiated the briefing by noting that SA had signed the Pact but had not yet ratified it. Mr Sendel pointed out that the Seychelles and Angola as SADC member states had not signed the Pact. The Seychelles was in the process of withdrawing from SADC. One of the principal provisions of the Pact was that member states would collectively respond in an appropriate manner in the event of an attack on a member state. There however needed to be consensus amongst members in order for action to be taken. Mr Sendel continued with an overview of the Pact’s specific provisions setting out briefly what each entailed.
Moulana M Shah (DA) referred to Article 15 in the Pact and asked whether agreements undertaken by individual SADC states would have to comply with the provisions of the Pact. He also asked for an explanation on the nature of the Tribunal mentioned in Article 13.
Mr Sendel answered that member states could not enter into agreements that would be in conflict with the Pact.
Mr Shah reacted that it was unlikely that all 13 member states would share the same economic and social interests. It was felt that a conflict of interests would be inevitable.
The Chairperson pointed out that the Pact specifically dealt with defence matters. Economic and social matters were not covered by the Pact.
Mr Sendel noted that the Tribunal had been created by the Summit to deal with issues that could arise.
The Chairperson felt that the Pact should more background about the Tribunal. The Department agreed to address the issue.
Mr O Monareng (ANC) asked how the Pact would make an appropriate intervention if a similar situation arose, as had happened with the recent death of the Togoan president.
Mr Motumi said that the Togo situation fell outside the ambit of the Pact. Professor Asmal noted that if a member state found itself in a similar situation, African Union rules would apply. The Pact would not apply as there had been no attack on a member state. Mr Rathebe commented that the situation in Togo was seen more as a coup d’ etat.
Dr G Koornhof (ANC) asked why Angola had not signed the Pact. He also asked whether timeframes for the ratification of the Pact had been attached, and about the budgetary implications. He asked who would bear the costs of military exercises undertaken by individual member states.
Mr Sendel could not comment on why Angola had not signed the Pact. There were a number of issues that needed to be discussed between SA and Angola on a bilateral basis. Mr Sendel noted that timeframes for ratification did not prescribe. All that was needed was ratification by a two thirds majority of member states. Mr Sendel explained that member states did have duties and obligations. The costs of multilateral and joint exercises would be borne by the participating defence forces themselves.
Dr Koornhof felt that if the Department bore the cost of joint exercises, the taxpayer was in essence paying for it.
Professor Asmal said that the Department had its usual budgets for carrying out military exercises. He felt it was part and parcel of any defence force’s operational activities to carry out military exercises. Consequently there would not be any increase in costs besides the additional use of ammunition.
Mr Shah asked about the impact on the Pact in the event that SA suspended diplomatic ties with a member state.
The Department’s stance was that obligations to the Pact would still have to be honoured. The Chairperson said that SA usually did not break diplomatic ties with countries, but would rather opt for the withdrawal of its ambassadors. A state was regarded as an entity separate from the government in power.
The Chairperson felt the provisions of Article 8 in the Pact were too broad. The intention of Article 8 was to prevent member states from giving assistance to those individuals that wished to destabilise or sabotage a state. He was concerned that Article 8 would affect SA’s Constitutional provisions on affording refugee status or asylum to a particular person or group. Mr Rathebe pointed out that the provision only referred to those individuals who wished to destabilise a state.
The Chairperson recommended that a provision be included in Article 8 which would not preclude SA from granting asylum or refugee status to a person or group provided that they were not engaged in plotting to overthrow or destabilise a country. The Department agreed to draft the relevant provision. The Committee agreed to ratify the Pact with a reservation on Article 8.
Protocol on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts
The Chairperson expressed disappointment over the delay in finalising the Protocol. He asked the reason for it being delayed for four years. Mr Motumi answered that the Protocol had initially been driven by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Professor Asmal felt that the Protocol should have been dealt with as a cluster issue. The Protocol had come through Defence and not Foreign Affairs. He felt that both the Departments of Social Development and Labour should have been involved in the process. It was unacceptable that the Protocol had not been ratified by its signatories.
Ms Ndwaba provided the Committee with a brief synopsis of the Protocol. The Protocol imposed a two-pronged obligation on member states. It· imposed an obligation on a member state that no person under the age of 18 years would take part in active combat. Secondly, it imposed an obligation that no member state compulsorarily recruit any person under the age of 18 years into its armed forces.
The Committee unanimously supported the ratification of the Protocol.
The Chairperson proposed that a media statement be released expressing the Committee’s support for the ratification of the Protocol. He also recommended that a motion be passed in the NA calling for the ratification of the Protocol. The Committee agreed to both proposals.
The meeting was adjourned.
No related documents
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.