“One of the biggest obstacles to building a world free from poverty and inequality is intolerance.” That was the message delivered by International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor delivering the country’s statement during the ongoing United Nations General Assembly Debate in New York.

She used the platform to address recent incidence of violence and looting in the country describing it as shameful and regrettable while reaffirming her government’s commitment in the fight against racism, xenophobia and related intolerances.

The country’s chief diplomat railed against intolerance in her address to the 193-member Assembly. The intolerance of other nations; intolerance towards human beings, particularly women and children, and intolerance against the environment that sustains us all.

“Our country South Africa has unfortunately not been immune from evidence of intolerance and division in some parts of our nation. The incidents of violence and looting that erupted in parts of our provinces of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal were regrettable and shameful for a nation with such a proud history of struggle and international solidarity support. The government of South Africa strongly condemned these tragic actions and is working hard at ensuring we address the security lapses and intolerance that led to this violence. We are working tirelessly to tackle crime and lawlessness and to ensure that the arrested criminals face the full might of the law.”

Minister Pandor committed to addressing the inadequacy of the country’s immigration administration and promised to work with all countries, particularly on the continent, to implement development strategies to increase economic opportunities to counter feelings of resentment and antipathy.

“Our neighboring states in particular and the rest of the countries in Africa made great sacrifices in support of the liberation movements and the oppressed citizens of South Africa.  We wish to reiterate that South Africa does not condone any forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerances. In fact South Africa has embraced millions of migrants and refugees from all over the continent of Africa and the majority of our people have warmly embraced their brothers and sisters from the continent. We are determined to ensure it becomes a national embrace and not a limited one to some communities.”

She warned that dealing decisively with the threats of poverty would fail unless the structure of the global economy was transformed, expressed solidarity with the people of Palestine, Cuba and Western Sahara while the question of Security Council reform was again raised.

“We remain gravely concerned that 74 years after the founding of the UN, key decisions on peace and security are de-facto the domain of only five countries. Twenty years of discussions on reform of the Security Council have yielded no movement towards a more representative and inclusive body.  We believe that the time has come for the broader membership to heed the overwhelming call for Africa to obtain at least two permanent seats, with all the prerogatives of permanent membership, as well as five non-permanent seats, as embodied in the Common African Position adopted as the Ezulwini Consensus on the comprehensive reform of the Council. In this regard, we must invigorate the negotiations on reform at the Intergovernmental Negotiations, including by initiating text-based negotiations.”

Pointing to a world facing a myriad of challenges, she called for the preservation of the rules-based multilateral system with the UN at its head.

Her speech here tops off a week-long whirlwind of high stakes diplomacy that has sought to reposition South Africa’s image on the international stage just as the country assumes the Presidency of the UN Security Council for the month of October. Pandor indicated that they would use their tenure to advocate for the peaceful settlement of disputes and inclusive dialogue, embodying the legacy of Nelson Mandela towards the objective of silencing the guns on the African continent by 2020

Watch Pandor’s full address below: