Discussion Notes for Your Excellence Mr. President Thabo Mbeki

(a) Executive Summary

It will be of great importance to reiterate the three reasons for the vote against the Draft resolution of Burma-Myanmar as it would: compromise the “good offices” of the Secretary-General in dealing with sensitive matters of peace, security and human rights; deal with issues that should be left to the Human Rights Council; and not fit with the mandate conferred upon the Council by the Charter.
The America position on the other hand was in favour of the resolution. and called for the Security Council to demonstrate that it was firmly seized in the case of human rights and democracy. The United States claims that the situation did represent a threat to International peace and stability.
Take into consideration the specificity of the American geopolitical sensibilities in the region where Burma/Myanmar is located, in particular the existing underlying rivalry between China and the United States. Engage with the new trend in American Transformational Diplomacy and use it as a lever to put through South Africa’s normative view of what are changes the current architecture of international relations requires.
The present and future of JIPSA, COSATU, USAID, AGOA, OPIC and ATDA should be put on the table, praising the advances in the last years and encouraging further cooperation in socio-economic matters.

(b) Recalling our position in the Burma-Myanmar vote

There has been great misinterpretation and misunderstanding on behalf of some of our fellow UN Member States, press and individuals (including our dearest Bishop Desmond Tutu). Our decision was thoroughly pondered and supported as being the one that best reflects South Africa’s normative stance of how politics in the international stage ought to be played out

The South African NO vote in the UN resolution in no way represents consent or passiveness towards the human rights abuses perpetrated in a country that was unable to access the East Asian miracle and remains one of the most underdeveloped of the region

South Africa is just as engaged in the matter as those calling for a pro-active approach to the problem are, particularly in relation to the unacceptable political detention of “prodemocracy leaders” as was the case with Aung San suu Kyi. Proof of how South Africa is seized on the matter is the current situation in Zimbabwe and the changing stance of South Africa towards a more reprehensive tone over the late detention of Morgan Tsvangirai

In this sense our reasons to vote NO encompass:

1. recognition of the progresses carried out by Mr. Ibrahim Gambari and his good office mission in Burma-Myanmar. A mission that would be compromised was the resolution to be adopted
2. represent matters that should be dealt with by the Human Rights Council
3. goes beyond the directives of the Security Council that is mandated by the United Nations charter

As recalled by our UN representative, Dumisani S. Kumalo, our claim is a technical yet fundamental, an approval of this resolution would open an undesired precedence. That is, having matters that should be first put to the appreciation of the Human Rights Council put directly through to the Security Council can prove highly problematic in the future. It would not be in concordance with the framework laid out by the Security Council in article 7 of the UN charter that states that matters are to be put forward to the Security Council only in cases of threat to international security, breach of the peace and acts of aggression

Voting Yes to the resolution or abstaining would undermine the functions and purpose of the newly revamped Human Rights Council (2005) that has acted with such effectiveness in several instances such as in Burundi

The tendency to exclude a majority of the members from the debate and the decision-making process by bringing them directly to the restricted numbers of the Security Council needs to be reversed

To preserve the functions of the Human Rights council is to defend the need for a reinforcement of a multipolar world where procedures and actions follow common negotiated agreements and provide absolute gains for all Member States

Moreover, the resolution would go against the statues of the charter since it does not represent a clear threat to the peace and security of the international community as was reaffirmed by ASEAN on a meeting last 11th of January in the Philippines

The ILO (International Labour Organization) should also be used as a pivotal platform to advance and tackle the problem of child soldiers in Burma/Myanmar. South Africa shares the optimism of the Secretary General in expressing his support between the ILO and the Government of Myanmar on the establishment of a complaint mechanism for victims of forced labour. American Position in the Myanmar vote

(c) American Position in the Myanmar vote

American policy towards Burma/Myanmar has been, since the end of the Cold war one of hardline criticisms, sanctions and embargos

The regional position of ASEAN countries that do not see Burma as a threat to the regional security can in fact be explained by the fact that many in the region fear that further isolation of Burma will drive it further closer to China. Southeast Asian realpolitik has meant that China is frequently seen as a rival in the region (especially by India).

The military junta has been an “expert” in exploiting Burma/Myanmar strategic position and manipulating its neighbours

Security Council has to act swiftly and effectively when coming across imminent crisis situations as they consider Myanmar to be the case

Change in Burma-Myanmar was urgent and the failing to tackle consequent flows of refugees, narcotics, human trafficking and communicable diseases actually does represent a threat to peace and security that goes beyond the national borders of the state and affecting the stability of regional and global spheres

An extremely large, 400.000 strong, Burma/Myanmar army is supplied by China and Russia
(d) Underlying principles/interests of the American position

The end of the Cold War meant that the US could afford sanctions and embargos to Burma and not have to worry about Soviet competition. This aggressiveness of relations

Aung San Suu Kyi has traditionally been seen as close to the United States, meaning that China has regarded this situation with uneasiness

The Burma/Myanmar case comes about in a very peculiar moment in the international relations of States in general and of American foreign policy in particular. In a region where the presence of military power was the symbol and practice of American hegemony in the region, this force is now strained and overstretched due to interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Iran

Burma/Myanmar is important to American geopolitical interests in the region if it aims at keeping the arch of crisis going from the North Africa to South East Asia under control. The region runs along is not only the “fault line” between 3 major civilisations (Hindu, Buddhist and Confucian) but is also a border between American and Chinese power

The neo-Conservative Agenda mixes Wilsonian idealism with pro-active power politics meaning that they have until very recently been looking at international politics as operating according to a “bandwagoning” logic- if “a powerful country like the United States is willing to attack its foes all states will understand they mean business”

A new policy of transformational diplomacy, spearheaded in particular by Secretary Condolezza Rice herself has now slowly been coming to bear. This new initiative calls for a change in the centre of gravity of US diplomatic relations in favour of the emerging nations of like India, Egypt, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia and Egypt. There is a current bet in regional partnerships and better coordinated transformational diplomacy that gives precedence to diplomatic relations in order to advance the underpinning pillars of American Diplomacy: democracy promotion, economic neo-liberalism and counterterrorism

The United States aims overall at balancing power with China which is very close to Myanmar in terms of military cooperation
(e) South Africa socio-economic relations with the United States

The functions and possible reform of the United Nations, particularly is Security Council, as to open up to the input of a greater number of its members and better account for the new vigour of members such as Brazil, India and South Africa. This implies a desirable reform of the Security Council to include more members and better adapt to the current architecture of international affairs

JIPSA (Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition) – Reinforce the commitment of the United States to the programme being as it is a leading nation in the advancement of Higher Education and Information Technology

JIPSA is a fundamental pillar for the success of ASGISA as it focuses on short supplied yet critical skills that are required for a “skills revolution” in South Africa. US is a central partner. The overall objective is to halve poverty and unemployment by 2014. By strengthening the economic and commercial ties with the US, South Africa will be able to keep up with the current positive trend of rising levels of foreign direct investment.

Synergy between the business, industry and labour sectors and the educational sector is on top of the agenda for South Africa. This synergy will be highly enhanced if partnerships with experienced American higher education institutions, in training and qualifying our labour force and in Research and Development are developed. All of this while taking into account the problem of brain drain

In this context, the issue brought about by COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) of subsidies for first job entries in the labour market is worth a mention

Ambassador Randall Tobias has been remarkably engaged in the fight against aids in South Africa. We are to reinforce our worry about the Aids pandemic in national and regional terms, comprising the whole of southern Africa and other problematic disease-ridden places such as Swaziland. We are now focusing on improving on infrastructure and education and count with American support to keep going on the right track and expand on the US$1 billion between 2005 and 2008

In these lines, the role of USAID cannot be underestimated, its achievements in post-apartheid South Africa have been undeniable with programs generating, for example, over 3000 jobs and more than $279 million in sales in the small and medium business and agribusiness sectors. Should also emphasize the important role USAID financing has had in combating HIV/AIDS, promoting sound democracy and governance and increasing access to housing, drinkable water and sanitation to the disadvantaged in South Africa

Emphasize our delight with the evolution of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the related most-favoured nation tariff that South Africa has enjoyed. This framework has enabled us to fare rather well in terms of economic growth and development for the last few years with growth rates of over 5 percent

The investment fund protocol signed between the US and South Africa of $120 million Overseas Private Investment Corporation fund to make equity investments in South and Southern Africa is now bearing fruits, affordable housing is now on the cards for many thousands of people in South Africa. It has helped 350.000 South Africans to obtain mortgages and formed a provision of $300 million of funds

The American Trade and Development Agency has for its part played a crucial role particularly in the technical assistance to big energy projects (namely the Khanya electricity projects in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal and the Thekwini Electricity Distribution Systems Integration Project)


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