South Africa’s Ramaphosa, criticised over Ukraine, slams ‘outdated’ UN body

Posted on Thursday, 7 April 2022 16:39

South Africa's President gestures during his response to oral questions in the National Assembly, in Cape Town
South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa in the National Assembly, at the Good Hope Chambers in Cape Town, South Africa, March 17, 2022. Elmond Jiyane/GCIS/Handout via REUTERS

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, whose government has been criticised for refusing to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine, on Thursday blasted the UN Security Council as "outdated" and in dire need of an overhaul.

The continental powerhouse has maintained a non-aligned stance, touting negotiation as the best option to end the conflict despite international outrage and condemnation.

It has so far abstained from voting in two UN resolutions adopted over the war.

“The conflict has exposed the inability of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to fulfil its mandate of maintaining international peace and security,” Ramaphosa said.

He was speaking in Pretoria in an address to South African diplomats accredited to other countries.

Ramaphosa said the UNSC structure enabled powerful nations to use their clout to make decisions that were at times catastrophic.

“The current formation of the UN Security Council is outdated and unrepresentative,” he said. “It disadvantages countries with developing economies.”

He called for decision-making “to be democratised so that the Council can be true to its mandate and move beyond the paralysis brought about by a few member states”.

He added: “We need to curb the unilateral actions of these countries to shape global politics through aggression and other coercive measures like the imposition of unilateral sanctions.”

“The entire peace and security architecture of the United Nations needs to be overhauled.”

The UN General Assembly is due to vote Thursday on suspending Russia from the UN Human Rights Council following allegations that Russian troops murdered civilians in Bucha, near Kyiv.

“We support the principle that members should refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of other states,” said Ramaphosa.

‘Glaring double standards’

Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said South Africa’s “non-aligned position does not mean that we condone Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, which has been in violation of international law”.

Pandor also condemned the response to the invasion, saying what the conflict has “exposed is the glaring double standards of the international community”.

“The imposition of crippling unilateral sanctions, and the immense pressure on multinational companies to withdraw from Russia has been unprecedented in post-World War Two international relations.

“We have not seen concomitant actions with regards to other conflicts,” she said, citing conflicts in such places as the Gaza Strip and Yemen.

She said she was “astounded” by the behaviour of some foreign diplomats posted to Pretoria who “have attacked our policy positions in a manner implying they are here to instruct us”.

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