Statement by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs to Parliament on South Africa's hosting of the XIIth Summit of the Non-Aligned Countries, 10 June 1998
I address this House on an issue which I believe all South Africans can be proud of. On the 2nd and 3rd of September in Durban we will host the XIIth Summit of the Heads of State or Government of the Non-Aligned Countries. This will be the biggest and one of the most important international political events that will take place in South Africa for some time.
It is expected that between 70 to 80 Heads of State or Government and between 4 000 and 5 000 delegates, including a large number of Foreign Ministers, will attend the Summit. The Summit will also be attended by Observer States, Guest States and Guest Organisations.
South Africa is honoured to host the Summit because NAM, for many years played an important role in supporting the struggle of the people of South Africa for a non-racial democracy. However, by taking on this task, South Africa is not merely saying thank you to the Movement at a historical juncture; we are at the same time fulfilling an international duty as a respected and responsible member of the world community.
The origin of the Movement lies in a meeting between the leaders of 29 African and Asian newly independent states in Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955. They met to consider problems of common interest, notably that of colonialism and imperialism. Subsequently, the Non-Aligned Movement was founded in Belgrade in 1961. The aim of the 25 countries attending was the creation of a new world order in which they could pursue independently identified goals, without being forced to joining the one side or the other, in the bipolar environment of an intensifying Cold War.
There are some who argue that NAM is an anachronism and should be dissolved. We reject this. We strongly believe that the principles on which NAM was founded are more relevant today than at any other time.
The expressed purpose of NAM was the establishment of a set of general principles of international relations that should apply to all states, based on the norm of non-discrimination between large and small states; the more equitable sharing of benefits of the world's economic, information and communication order; nuclear disarmament, peace and stability, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations; non-interference or -intervention in the internal affairs of other countries; opposition to military blocks; respect for justice and international obligations as well as the creation of multilateral frameworks for cooperation. Clearly, non-alignment was not simply "neutrality" or "equidistance" from the two superpowers. Non-alignment was to be an evolving concept, with the NAM symbolising the democratisation of international relations and giving expression to the legitimate rights and aspirations of the peoples of developing countries.
Today, Madam Speaker, we face the challenge of giving the evolving concept of non-alignment new expression in a new historical context. The global agenda for the years ahead contains numerous challenges interalia, North-South and intra-South relations, globalisation and trade liberalisation, reform and democratisation of the UN and Bretton Woods institutions, disarmament, the debt burden, sustainable development, human rights, the gender issue, environmentalism, drugs, transnational crime, and - the necessity to ensure that the 21st Century is the "African Century". It is imperative that the Summit plays an important role to build up a solid foundation to ensure that the vision of an African Renaissance becomes a reality.
As we prepare to meet the challenges confronting the Non-Aligned Movement, we repeat that non-alignment was never merely a function of East-West conflict. Non-alignment was designed to give a voice to the disadvantaged, the oppressed and to those on the margin of the global, political and economic system.
The XIIth Summit will present another historical stocktaking on all these issues by a group comprising the majority of the countries of the world, and we must emerge from summit with the broad principles and norms that will guide our actions in the United Nations General Assembly and in other multilateral fora.
To prepare for the Summit, Cabinet established 2 Ministerial Committees, one concentrating on substance and the other on organisational matters. The Cabinet Agenda Committee, which is chaired by Minister Nzo, provides policy directives and political guidance to a structure of interdepartmental committees. This Committee has the responsibility to identify key themes which will be pursued during South Africa's period as Chair of the NAM.
The Cabinet Organising Committee, chaired by myself, is tasked to oversee the logistical preparations for the Summit. An Inter-departmental Logistical Committee (IDLC), was established to deal with the logistical preparations for the event.
Madam Speaker, I take this opportunity to thank the Premier of Kwa-Zulu/Natal and the Mayor of the Durban Metropolitan Council for their enthusiastic and invaluable assistance in organisational preparations. Given the magnitude of the logistical challenge presented by the Summit, it is obvious that success will only be possible if we have the fullest co-operation between the National, Provincial and Local authorities, as well as Civil Society.
The task ahead presents us with an enormous challenge and responsibility. We look forward to the support and participation of the Foreign Affairs Portfolio Committee, and indeed all members of Parliament. As representatives of the people of South Africa, we must together ensure the successful hosting of the XIIth Summit and offering our unique and warm African hospitality to our distinguished and acclaimed guests.
The Chairmanship of NAM will be a fitting birthday present and a tribute to President Mandela, who has made such an invaluable contribution to democracy in our country and region, and to the hopes and dreams of all the peoples of the south.
I thank you.