The government has explained why it abstained from a UN General Assembly vote to reprimand Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, saying that the resolution “does not create an environment conducive for diplomacy, dialogue and mediation”.
The UN General Assembly on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to reprimand Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, and demanded that Moscow stop fighting and withdraw its military forces, an action that aims to diplomatically isolate Russia at the world body.
But SA was not among the 141 of the assembly’s 193 members that voted in favour of the resolution.
The text of the resolution “deplores” Russia’s “aggression against Ukraine”.
Thirty-five members, including SA and China, abstained and five countries including Russia, Syria and Belarus voted against the resolution. While General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, they carry political weight.
In a statement, the international relations and co-operation department (Dirco) said that the resolution did not meet its expectations.
“Our position … is that SA remains deeply concerned by the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine and the regional and international socioeconomic implications. We strongly urge all sides to uphold international law, including humanitarian law and human rights law, as well as the principles of the UN Charter, including sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said SA’s permanent representative to the UN, Mathu Joyini.
The statement said that as the conflict involved two members of the UN in an armed conflict, it was the international body’s responsibility to “take decisions and actions that will lead to a constructive outcome conducive to the creation of sustainable peace between the parties”.
“While we agree with, and support, the efforts taken by member states to bring to the attention of the international community the situation in Ukraine, SA feels that greater attention should have been paid to bringing the sides closer to dialogue.
“For SA, the text in its current form could drive a deeper wedge between the parties rather than contributing to a resolution of the conflict. The resolution should have welcomed the commencement of negotiations between the parties.
“Additionally, the role of the Security Council as well as the Good Offices of the UN Secretary-General could have been given more prominence in the resolution. It is understood that one of the root causes of the conflict is related to the security concerns of the parties. This should have been addressed in the resolution,” the statement read.
It added that SA believed the UN “should be used as a platform to build bridges, address the divergence of views, provide recommendations and support for the parties to engage with the spirit of compromise, while de-escalating tensions, committing to the cessation of hostilities, and building trust and confidence”.
“Unfortunately, the text before us does not do that,” Joyini said.