SEVENTH SPECIAL SESSION OF THE EXECUTIVE BOARD OF UNESCO
SOUTH AFRICA’S STATEMENT
15 MARCH 2022
Thank you for affording my Delegation the opportunity to reflect on the agenda item before us: the impact and consequences of the current situation in Ukraine in all aspects of UNESCO’s mandate.
Today we are reminded of the founding mission of UNESCO, an organisation that was established with a purpose to build the defences of peace in the minds of men. Our forebears, in their wisdom, and mindful of the devastation visited upon humanity by the Second World War, sought to build an international organisation that would pursue the objective of achieving peace through building trust between the peoples of the world, and breaking down the differences that have all too often led to conflicts and wars.
This conflict in Ukraine and many others that we continue to experience in different regions of the world challenge the very foundation upon which this organisation was established.
As stated during the emergency session of the UN General Assembly, South Africa remains deeply concerned about the violations of the UN Charter and international law; the loss of lives; the humanitarian crisis destruction of property, including heritage assets, disruption of education and the forced displacement of people as a result of the war in Ukraine.
We recognise that the conflict will no doubt result in human suffering and destruction, the effects of which will be deeply felt not only in Ukraine, but across the world. Already the global economy is negatively impacted with the increase in the prices of fuel and food.
It is for this reason, Madam President that South Africa has called on both Russia and Ukraine to find a diplomatic and political solution to the conflict.
We note on-going efforts by the parties to the conflict to give negotiations a chance in order to bring an end to the suffering experienced by the people of Ukraine and all those affected by the conflict.
We therefore call upon the international community to urge the two countries to intensify their negotiations in order to find a sustainable and comprehensive solution to the raging conflict and bring an end to the human suffering and destruction of property in Ukraine.
Our actions and decisions as UNESCO an organisation for peace, must lead to the creation of a constructive and conducive atmosphere for negotiations. UNESCO, whose mandate is to promote peace and harmony through education, culture, science, communication and information, has a heavier burden and duty to support the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
Political and security issues should be handled by the relevant multilateral bodies, such as the United Nations Security Council.
The conflict in Ukraine has once more exposed the fault line that still persists in the world today: racism and related intolerances. We deplore the ill-treatment and discrimination of African citizens and students fleeing from the conflict in Ukraine and call on all the parties to ensure the free movement and protection of our citizens in line with international humanitarian law.
In this regard we wish to recall various decisions of the General Conference requesting the Director-General to strengthen UNESCO’s contribution to the fight against racism and related practices and to provide a detailed timeframe for the implementation of UNESCO’s roadmap against racism and discrimination.
In conclusion South Africa will not support any decision that does not foreground the call for a peaceful resolution of the Conflict in Ukraine.
I thank you.
Ambassador Tebogo Seokolo