SA to continue to advocate for peaceful settlements: Botes

Objects are seen in the sky above Jerusalem after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel,
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As the world watches the developments in the Middle East with great concern, South Africa says it will continue to advocate for the peaceful settlement of conflicts.

International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Alvin Botes addressed the 6th Commonwealth Red Cross and Red Crescent International Humanitarian Law conference in Pretoria.

The world is on tenterhooks as the threat of open warfare in the Middle East is fast approaching. This after Iran launched an attack on Israel, over a suspected Israeli strike on its consulate in Syria earlier this month. South Africa has continued to call for the cessation of hostilities in the troubled region.

“We are calling for de-escalation, on the International Vienna Convention to be respected that includes a clear one that no one should launch deliberate attacks on diplomatic missions of any other country. We are calling for restraint, we do regard and call for enhanced dialogue that will result in de-escalation. What you have seen between Israel and Iran, it brings to the fore the fragility of the Middle East peace process,” says Botes.

This gathering will afford government officials, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, as well as the Commonwealth Secretariat an opportunity to ensure that there’s compliance with international humanitarian law as the world grapples with a number of conflicts.

“I think we have to recognize as human beings in a conflict, we feel anxiety, we feel threatened, our survival instinct is triggered so this can lead to escalation of violence. There’s no need for malicious response but it can cause a lot of human suffering and Geneva Convention tried to give guidance, it’s like a compass in a storm environment,” says Dr Nils Melzer, Director International Law, Red Cross.

South Africa also says, given the complex nature of the global challenges, the proclamation of International Humanitarian Law’s importance in the protection of civilians, civilian and critical infrastructure, as well as humanity, is more relevant than ever.

“The world is faced with a multiplicity of contemporary challenges that are exacerbated by geopolitical dynamics which are threatening global peace and stability. This conference is an acknowledgment that as high contracting parties to the Geneva Conventions and their additional protocols, there is a dire need to recalibrate and strengthen existing instruments which will match our common fight against protracted humanitarian situations,” Botes added.

The gathering will wrap up on Friday.