President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended South Africa’s stance that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine should be ended through mediation.
This comes after South Africa abstained from voting on a United Nations (UN) resolution on the escalating conflict last week, which received widespread criticism. Many described the decision as fence-sitting.
But in his weekly newsletter on Monday, Ramaphosa said South Africa abstained because the resolution did not “foreground the call for meaningful engagement”.
Namibia, Mozambique and Angola also abstained during the vote to reprimand Russia for invading Ukraine, which demanded that Moscow withdraw its military forces. The action aims to isolate Russia diplomatically.
Prior to the resolution being passed at the UN last week, talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials had already started. South Africa expected that the UN resolution would foremost welcome the commencement of dialogue between the parties and seek to create the conditions for these talks to succeed.
“Instead, the call for a peaceful resolution through political dialogue is relegated to a single sentence close to the conclusion of the final text. This does not provide the encouragement and international backing that the parties need to continue with their efforts,” he said.
The president said the call for peaceful negotiation was aligned with the values upon which the UN was founded.
“We are particularly concerned that the UN Security Council was unable to discharge its responsibility to maintain peace and security. This gives impetus to the longstanding calls for the Security Council’s reform to meet the challenges of the 21st Century,” he said.
South Africa’s position has been to affirm the UN Charter’s call for member states to settle disputes by negotiation and mediation.