On Wednesday abstained from a UN General Assembly vote that sought to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. This as the country continued its invasion of Ukraine.
In a letter from ambassador Xolisa Mabhongo, addressed to President Cyril Ramaphosa, she said while the South African delegation remained concerned about the deadly situation which was still unfolding in Russia, it did not believe that kicking Russia out of the council was a wise decision.
“Unfortunately, the resolution that we are considering will further divide and polarise the matter and the General Assembly, without following due process. SA maintains that in considering the suspension of a member of the Human Rights Council, we must be consistent and not selective as this would undermine the credibility of the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council,” Mabhongo said.
We maintain that all parties have much to gain from a negotiated outcome and much to lose from unnecessary and violent conflict.
“For these reasons, SA will abstain on the resolution,” she added.
TimesLIVE understands the vote was held in the assembly on Thursday with the majority of the countries voting in favour of Russia’s suspension.
This is the second crucial vote linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that SA is choosing to abstain from.
Last month, 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”.
At the time, the assembly overwhelmingly voted to reprimand Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, and demanded that Moscow stop fighting and withdraw its military forces. The vote aimed to diplomatically isolate Russia at the world body.
On the latest vote, Mabhongo highlighted that SA was concerned about what it labelled a deteriorating situation in Ukraine and continued its call for an urgent intervention.
“The humanitarian crisis that has resulted from the ongoing military operations must be addressed and there must be an urgent opening of humanitarian corridors and the provision of aid to the civilian population which, as usual, bears the brunt of the suffering when violent confrontation breaks out,” Mabhongo said.
“All parties to the conflict must comply with international human rights and humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions, and must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all member states, in keeping with the UN Charter,” she added.
Mabhongo told Ramaphosa that on the March 4 2021, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution authorising the establishment of an international commission of inquiry to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international law and related crimes in Ukraine.
“The commission has not yet commenced its work and we await its findings on the allegations of gross violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law,” Mabhongo said.
“SA is of the firm belief that the tabling of the resolution that we will consider today is premature and prejudges the outcomes of the commission of enquiry. We must allow the commission to urgently undertake its mandate and report to the human rights council and the General Assembly on its outcomes. It is also imperative that all parties to the conflict must allow the commission to perform its duties without any hindrance and interference.”
Mabhongo said SA stood on its stance to encourage dialogue, mediation and diplomacy, saying it was the only way to end the conflict.
“Wars end when dialogue begins and wars endure when there is no dialogue,” Mabhongo continued.
“In this regard, we welcome the efforts by Ukraine and Russia to hold talks without preconditions. SA expresses the hope that both parties will use diplomacy to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, leading to a durable political and security situation. We maintain that all parties have much to gain from a negotiated outcome and much to lose from unnecessary and violent conflict.
“The General Assembly must therefore encourage mediation and dialogue and adopt constructive outcomes leading to that end,” she said.