South Africa: President Jacob Zuma Returns From UN General Assembly

President Jacob Zuma has this morning 23 September 2016 returned from his working visit to the USA, where he participated in the General Debate of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA71), under the theme: “The Sustainable Development Goals: A universal push to transform our world.”

The President returned to the country via South African Airways flight SA 204 from John F Kennedy to OR Tambo International Airport, thus concluding his sampling of the SAA’s New York route. He was impressed with the service provided on the return flight. The President flew SAA on his onward trip to the US as part of promoting travel to South Africa via the national carrier as the country marks Tourism Month.

The UNGA General Debate presented an opportunity for Member States to take stock of the effectiveness of the United Nations and to chart a way forward to improve the organisation’s efficiency and relevance by making it more democratic, responsive and transparent.

Deliberations focused amongst others, on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); climate change; peace and security issues; UN reform, especially the Security Council; and the process of appointing a new successor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whose second term will come to an end in December.

South Africa used the opportunity to communicate progress made towards achieving Africa’s development, including on industrialization and regional integration, with the aim of achieving a better life for South Africans and all in the continent.

President said that South Africa has put in place a National Development Plan, which is aligned to AU Agenda 2063, as well as the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“Our National Development Plan is in line with the drive for industrialization of Africa. This will contribute to the eradication of poverty, reduce inequality and unemployment, and will also contribute positively to global growth and prosperity,” said President Zuma.

South Africa also continued to raise concern regarding the strength of the institutions of global governance, including the United Nations, specifically the Security Council, and advocated for the urgent reform of these institutions with the aim of correcting the historical injustice against Africa, reflected in their outdated structures.

President Zuma illustrated the fact that the deadlock in the Security Council on the Syrian question exposed the inherent structural dysfunction of the 1945, post Second World War consensus.

President Zuma questioned whether the UN, and in particular the UN Security Council as currently configured, could fulfill its mandate in addressing the challenges of the twenty first century.

“South Africa will continue to call for the Council’s transformation to ensure, in particular, Africa’s representation”, he said, stressing that: “One billion people cannot continue to be denied a voice.”

In addition to the UNGA General Debate, President Zuma participated in several High-Level Meetings.

The President participated in the High-Level Meeting of the Plenary of the General Assembly on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants.

This is the first time that the General Assembly held a Summit on large movements of refugees and migrants aimed at developing an international response to this challenge. The meeting was particularly important for South Africa, as the African continent is one of the most affected regions experiencing large movement of refugees and migrants and South Africa is amongst the largest recipients of migrants and refugees in the world.

President Zuma and President Francois Hollande of France co-hosted launch of the Report of the High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth (HLC HEEG) in their capacity as co-chairs.

The panel was established by the UN Secretary-General and it aims to engage leaders at the highest level to encourage the creation of new employment opportunities in the health sector globally.

President Zuma stated that the Report of the Commission is making ten recommendations to Member States, ranging from training needs, continuing education and the need to focus on primary health care.

“It further proposes that we prioritise these recommendations over the next five years because by doing so, we will greatly increase our chances of meeting several of the goals we set ourselves in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said the President.

President Zuma hosted an event to commemorate the Five-Year Anniversary of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), which South Africa currently chairs.

The OGP was launched in 2011 as a mechanism to create an international platform for domestic reformers who are committed to making their governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens.

President Zuma stated that South Africa’s 3rd OGP National Action Plan has a commitment on Goal 16 of the SDGs on Access to Justice.

“In the true spirit of co-creation and a partnership, this commitment is championed and led by a civil society network working in the area of Justice,” said the President.

President Zuma participated in a Media Briefing of the High Level Panel on Water. This Panel, which consists of 11 sitting Heads of State and Government and one Special Adviser, issued a Call to Action that advocates for a fundamental shift in the way the world looks at water.

The Panel aims to mobilize effective action to accelerate the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6), which focuses on ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, at a time of unprecedented challenges.

President Zuma attended the US-Africa Business Forum hosted by H.E President Barak Obama. The Forum focussed on trade and investment opportunities in Africa and was attended by a number of African Heads of State and Government. The event provided African Heads of State and Government with an opportunity to network with American business leaders to explore business and investment opportunities.

The President was accompanied by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane; Minister of State Security, Mr David Mahlobo; Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula; Minister in the Presidency, Mr Jeff Radebe; Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Malusi Gigaba; Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi; Minister of Water and Sanitation, Ms Nomvula Mokonyane; Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Mr Michael Masutha; and the Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo.

Source: South African Government.