South Africa’s foreign policy milestones

Minister Naledi Pandor and Director General Zane Dangor at the media brifing (photo: Jacoline Schoonees)

12 December 2022

Remarks by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, on the occasion of the end-of-the-year media briefing on South Africa’s foreign policy milestones, 12 December 2022

Allow me to take this opportunity to send, on behalf of myself and my department, our deepest condolences to the family, friends and Cdes of Mr Geoff Doidge, my former Cabinet colleague and former ambassador to Sri Lanka and Thailand. Sincere condolences to the family of former ambassador Johannes who served at our embassy in the Vatican.

We called this media briefing today to reflect on the work we have been doing during the year 2022 to advance South Africa’s foreign policy. The intention is to highlight some of the achievements we have made, the challenges we faced, and the year ahead.

We will focus on:

• South Africa’s chairing of the BRICS in 2023;
• the African Union, which remains the primary vehicle through which we conduct diplomacy and trade with the rest of Africa;
• the United Nations, the premier international organisation through which the world pursues peace and development; and
• the strengthening of bilateral relations with key partners.

1. South Africa as Chair of BRICS for 2023

From 01 January 2023, South Africa will assume the role of Chair of BRICS. This role rotates on an annual basis among the member states of BRICS, and we will be taking over from the outgoing Chair, the People’s Republic of China.

The main objectives of South Africa’s engagement in BRICS are to enhance the future growth and development of South Africa and to strengthen intra-BRICS relations and mutually beneficial cooperation.

South Africa will continue to emphasise concrete cooperation that contributes both directly and indirectly to the priorities of a better South Africa, a better Africa, and a better world through its partnership with key players of the Global South on issues related to global governance and its reform, and development.

A country that Chairs the BRICS has the following responsibilities, among others:

1. To provide strategic leadership during the tenure as BRICS Chair, in close consultation with other Members, based on the Chair’s agenda/priorities and previously agreed-upon decisions,
2. To schedule Summit, Ministerial, Sherpa and other BRICS meetings and events based on consensus,
3. To undertake specific tasks relevant to the Summit, upon consultation with other Members, including, inter alia, selecting the Summit Theme, proposing the Summit Agenda/Programme and submitting the zero draft of the Summit Declaration, and
4. To ensure coordination and continuity in BRICS work and activities, especially through the Sherpas/Sous-Sherpas channel.

South Africa’s membership in BRICS has contributed to further expanding BRICS’ geographic reach, representivity and inclusiveness. BRICS countries now constitute the largest trading partners of Africa and the largest new investors, and the exponential growth potential of the BRICS-Africa economic partnership is well recognised.

Systems Resilience on 15 December 2022. I will deliver remarks on the first topic, i.e., Partnering on Agenda 2063.

On Tuesday, 13 December 2022, the following events will take place;
• the “African and Diaspora Young Leaders Forum” which will be held under the theme – Amplifying Voices: Building Partnerships that Last.
• “Peace, Security and Governance Forum, under the theme – Delivering Democracy and Security Dividends and
• Conservation, Climate Adaptation, and a Just Energy Transition under the theme – Building Our Green Energy Together.

Wednesday, 14 December 2022, will start with the “US-Africa Business Breakfast meeting, followed by the inauguration of the U.S – Africa Business Forum and discussions on various topics, which include “Charting the Course: The Future of US-Africa Trade Investment Relations; Growing Agribusiness: Partnerships to strengthen Food Security and Value Chain and Advancing Digital Connectivity: Partnerships to Enable Inclusive Growth Through Technology.

President Joseph Biden will deliver a keynote address at the Business Forum on 14 December 2022.

The delegation comprises Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Mr Ebrahim Patel and senior officials from the Departments of Higher Education, Science and Innovation; Defence and Military Veterans; and Health.

Apart from attending and participating in the above-mentioned events, I will also have bilateral meetings with some of my counterparts and leading captains of industry.

In conclusion,

Our engagement with the world is multifaceted. We have strong relations with all the major countries and regions, and we are a significant factor in global governance matters. We remain a champion for multilateralism that is guided by the Charter of the United Nations and International Law. We have stated very clearly to partners with whom we may have disagreed on some issues, that if International Law is applied evenly and not selectively, it will play its full role in holding all, including the most powerful actors on the global stage accountable and be a platform for building peace.

It is our hope that a peaceful negotiated outcome to the war in Ukaine will become a reality soon.


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