Despite our achievements since the attainment of our genuine Independence in 1990, our people are still facing the structural consequences of the apartheid colonial realities. Our people bear the brunt of poverty, inequality, unemployment, disease and underdevelopment. Given the recent visit of President Geingob to the 71st session of the UN General Assembly, the question we need to ask ourselves is whether we have been able to consolidate the posture of our foreign policy in the continent and the world to advance our national interest? One of the crucial questions is also whether we are able to use the opportunities we enjoy in the international relations platforms to advance the objectives of our national interest? Of importance, how do we relate to our understanding of the principles of international solidarity to achieve our fundamental objectives?
Our answer to these questions will help us expand our sphere of influence within the international arena. Therefore, our main objective is to consolidate the leadership role of our country within the realms of the international world. Surely, our foreign policy outlook should be informed by our internal dynamics; hence our main objective is to create prospects for meaningful participation of the majority of our people into the mainstream economy. Therefore, ours is the transformation of our economy in a manner that responds to the demands of the overwhelming majority of the people of our country.
Our perspective on international solidarity should inform the role of our country on the international platform. Our approach is informed by our struggle to create a world, which is a better place for all humanity and our strategic approach is to strengthen multilateral institutions such as the Southern African Development Community, the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) to achieve the overall objectives of creating a just, equitable and humane world.
Our historic conjuncture of the attainment of our genuine Independence in 1990 took place against the backdrop of events of far-reaching political significance. These historic events changed the theatre of the balance of forces in the world. A defining moment, which caught the imagination of the world, at the time, was the fall of the Berlin Wall, which separated the East from West Germany. The sudden collapse of the eastern bloc countries in the world ushered in a new world hegemonic era of global socio-economic agenda of free market imperatives.
Today, the world is navigating through a complex period of a transition from a bipolar into an increasingly contested unipolar world. There is still an increased contestation of ideas between the two previously opposing hegemonic systems of the world. Our second phase of the struggle for economic independence is taking place against the backdrop of a global economy buttressed by the worst global economic crisis at any time since the 1930s.
Underpinning the world economy are growing features of poverty, disease and underdevelopment. The world economic meltdown has led to increasing destabilisation of regions outside the West and generated new conflicts, compounded by declining international solidarity, which is decreasing the ability of multilateral organisations to develop solutions to global and regional conflicts.
The high levels of poverty, inequality, unemployment, disease and underdevelopment confirm our long-held view that the market economy cannot resolve its own contradictions. Western economies have become the epicentres of the world financial crisis. Most of the EU nation states were compelled by the worsening economic conditions to impose harsh austerity measures that saw huge cuts on social spending, privatisation of key sectors of the economy, high levels of inflation, decreased standards of living and increasing inequalities and underdevelopment, hence the Brexit.
The increasing level of income inequalities among and within most of the world nation states remains a serious challenge. Statistics indicate that more than 870 million people in the world everyday sleep without food. At the same time 1 percent of the world population owns 50 percent of the wealth. The deteriorating world economic crisis has a tremendous adverse effect on the economy of our country and therefore our initiatives for socio-economic transformation under the national development programmes, Harambee Prosperity Plan and Vision 2030.
Nevertheless, the South has been rising in a manner that promises to alter the international balance of power and offer opportunities for the emergence of a post-Western world order and Washington is in a fighting mood to ensure that this does not happen.
Indeed, it is generally accepted that the international balance of forces is gradually shifting in the direction of the countries of the South. South-South Cooperation is important in our country’s foreign policy architecture. Our approach to South-South Cooperation is anchored on South-South forums and multilateral bodies such as the Non-Allied Movement and the G77 plus China, as well as the network of bilateral relations we have established with countries of Asia and Middle East, and Latin America and the Caribbean. The key elements of this cooperation are the promotion of political and diplomatic relations, enhancing trade, investment and other economic relations, and collaboration on global issues for a better world.
Developments in the Pacific Alliance (Columbia, Peru, Chile and Mexico) need to be closely monitored with the view to identify opportunities for our country. Brazil, Mexico and Argentina are G20 member states destined to become privileged interlocutors in our country’s efforts to improve regulation of the global political, economic, social and environmental sectors. Mexico is the 2nd largest manufacturing country by value in the world and may surpass China by 2018 as the number one manufacturing country.
International solidarity should continue to inspire our approach to world affairs. As such, we must reaffirm our solidarity with the people of Western Sahara in search of their right to decolonisation and self-determination, through a UN supervised referendum with the option of independence. Similarly, our history and support for the Palestinian struggle for freedom is one that is also linked in our historical and shared struggles. Our own history demands that we are required and morally obliged to support the Palestinian fight for freedom, equality and the right to self-determination.
Reform of the structures of global governance, including the United Nations Security Council, must remain a key focus, including on how to ensure that the African Common Position, advances the reform of the UN. Our multilateral activities are inextricably linked to our own domestic priorities and those of the African continent. We should continue to insist that as much as work is being done on non-proliferation, the issue of disarmament also requires progress and movement in the context of the alienable right of states to the peaceful uses of the atom. As far as the International Criminal Court (ICC) is concerned, as much as we do not condone impunity, Africa was concerned about the perception of selective prosecution of Africans and urged the ICC to also pursue cases of impunity elsewhere, while engaging in serious dialogue with the AU and African countries in order to review their relationship and call on the United Nations Security Council, which has referred some African cases to the ICC, to recognise the work done by the AU, its Regional Economic Communities and individual African countries to promote the peaceful end to and settlement of conflicts on the continent, the peace agreements signed and commitments made in regard to post-conflict justice.
This has not happened. Instead the ICC has continued to attack African countries. The ICC arrogantly insists on African countries to execute ICC warrants of arrests, which are not recognised by the African Union to the point that Africa decided on reviewing our membership of this organisation. In taking this decision, we reaffirmed our unwavering commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights on the continent of Africa and beyond. It is our view however that the ICC has gradually diverted from its mandate and allowed itself to be influence by powerful non-member states. We perceive it as tending to act as a proxy instrument for these states, which see no need to subject them to its discipline.
Despite being signatory to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, we have to balance our obligations to the ICC with our obligations to the African Union and to individual states in terms of the international treaties, which we have concluded. Africa must build its own alternative to the ICC so that international crimes like genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, continue to occupy the attention of our continent.
A discussion of our country’s international relations is incomplete without a reflection on the leadership role that is expected of us on the continent and globally. However, our sense and approach to such leadership must not be that of a bully or hegemony, but a member of a collective. We must assert the independence of our foreign policy; taking positions that are principled and correct; Speak out on African issues to defend our continent and collective interests; champion progressive issues; stand up for justice in the world and our leadership must be driven by collective and shared interest.