SA sought to build consensus as it assumes UN Security Council presidency for December

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South Africa has sought to build consensus in the United Nations Security Council despite the complexities of conflicts on its agenda, says SA’s Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Jerry Matjila.

South Africa assumes the Presidency of the Council for the month of December in its final month serving on the body responsible for international peace and security.

Pretoria has used its term to foster a closer linkage with between the UN and the African Union, tried to re-envision the Council’s inability to move the Palestinian cause closer to resolution while finding its voice amid competing interests that continue to raise serious questions about the body’s declining legitimacy.

Ambassador Jerry Matjila says they continue to work to make impactful decisions that can move the different files forward but that conflicts from Afghanistan to Yemen, South Sudan, Mali, the DRC and elsewhere are complex with varying interests that often make consensus very hard to reach.

This as the Council is being criticised for dragging its feet in responding to the crisis in Ethiopia.

“We knew in the Council this is a serious thing when the President (Cyril Ramaphosa) dispatched such high level and unique composition of envoys it means Africa understood the gravity of the situation. So normally as we do as diplomats, we give over to our leaders, it’s in their hands. They’ve gone there, they’ve conveyed their concerns of Africa and the concerns of the world on what is happening there. We are conscious that the problem affects the neighbourhood and that’s why we were slightly encouraged by the IGAD member states, President Museveni of Uganda, Prime Minister Hamdok (Sudan) and other leaders of that region talking with their brothers and sisters in Ethiopia to say handle it differently, so the Council is waiting now,” says Matjila.


Matjila pointed to progress in Libya that has seen a cessation of hostilities and the continuation of a political dialogue that has agreed to an electoral roadmap by December 24, 2021.

But on the Palestinian question, Matjila argued that efforts have simply not produced the desired results.

“Palestine has been squeezed and squeezed. If you look at the geography of Palestine and go back to 1967, they’ve lost so much territory. We tried our level best but our friends in Israel also have a very strong supporter who believes and sees things differently towards peace and it is in this kind of circumstances that where we think as developing countries…and we need to push and push and push but unfortunately as we are exiting at the end of the year, I must admit, currently now Palestine now is worse off than it was a while ago.”

Matjila argues that despite the likely failure to Silence the Guns in Africa by 2020 that the continent was moving in the right direction.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s expected to chair a Council debate on Friday on Cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations including the African Union.

Ahead of the start of South Africa’s term on the Un Security Council last year, Matjila affirmed the central role of multilateralism in resolving global disputes, as outlined in the video below: