Minister Nkoana-Mashabane conducts fruitful bilateral talks with Indonesian counterpart

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has today, Monday, 06 February 2017, received Ms Retno Marsudi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, for bilateral talks in Cape Town.

Minister Marsudi is on a working visit to South Africa in her capacity as Indonesia’s Presidential Special Envoy on the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and is accompanied by a business delegation with the aim of strengthening economic cooperation with their South African counterparts.

The two Ministers discussed the upcoming IORA Leaders’ Summit scheduled for 07 March 2017 in Jakarta. Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo will be hosting the IORA Leaders’ Summit to commemorate the 20th anniversary of IORA’s existence and to hand over the chairship of IORA to South Africa.

South Africa and Indonesia are both founding members of the Indian Ocean Rim Association, which comprises 21 coastal states of the Indian Ocean. Indonesia served as Vice Chair of IORA from 2013 to 2015 and is the current Chair.

South Africa served as Vice Chair from 2015 to early 2017. South Africa will serve as Chair from 2017 to 2019.

In this regard, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane indicated that South Africa will host the next IORA Council of Ministers Meeting in Durban later this year.

The two Ministers discussed the need to reinvigorate bilateral cooperation between the two countries and agreed that South Africa will host the 2nd SA-Indonesia Joint Commission Meeting this year on a mutually agreed date. A State Visit by President Zuma to Indonesia and by President Widodo to South Africa was also proposed for 2017.

Whilst in Cape Town, Minister Marsudi will also pay a courtesy call on President Zuma to personally convey an invitation from President Widodo to President Zuma to participate in the upcoming 1st IORA Leaders’ Summit in Jakarta.

South Africa and Indonesia enjoy cordial relations. The current bilateral mechanisms that allow both countries to optimise the existing cooperation are the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation and the Joint Trade Committee, signed in 2004 and 2006, respectively.

Indonesia presents a significant potential market for South African products. In 2015 the total volume of bilateral trade between South Africa and Indonesia was R11.7 billion with R2.8 billion exports from South Africa and R8.9 billion imports from Indonesia. South Africa’s major exports to Indonesia include chemical wood pulp, ferrous waste, iron ore, aluminium, fruit, and mechanical appliances.

On the multilateral front, South Africa and Indonesia are active members of the G20, the Non-Aligned Movement ( NAM ), and the G77 plus China, and work together closely in promoting the ideals of South-South Cooperation.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

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Categories: AFRICA

President Zuma to Witness the Signing of Agreements between NEDLAC and Social Partners during the Business Luncheon

President Jacob Zuma will on Tuesday, 07 February 2017, during the Business Luncheon with the CEOs and leadership of organised business and labour, witness the signing of agreements between the NEDLAC social partners – government, organised labour, organised business and the community sector – on measures to promote labour stability and modalities for the introduction of a national minimum wage.

The agreements are the result of nearly two years of negotiations among the social partners in NEDLAC led by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. They are a direct response to the call made by President Zuma in his State of the Nation Address on 17 June 2014 for social partners to deliberate on the state of the labour relations environment, and in particular to address low wages, wage inequality and violent and protracted strikes.

The President will be accompanied by Deputy President Ramaphosa and Cabinet ministers.

Details of the signing are as follows:
Date: Tuesday, 07 February 2017
Venue: Grand West Casino, Cape Town

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Women’s Participation in Political and Peace Processes in the Great Lakes Region

The Office of the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General for the Great Lakes region organized the Global Open Days on Women, Peace and Security in Goma, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), from 31 January to 2 February 2017, with support from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and UN Women. The event brought together 30 women leaders from five countries in the Great Lakes region (Burundi, the DRC, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda), Ministers and their representatives in charge of gender from the concerned countries as well as high level representatives of the United Nations, the African Union (AU) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

These Global Open Days, organized through the Women’s Platform for the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the DRC and the region, had a threefold objective: (1) to reinforce women leaders’ capacity in leadership, lobbying and participation in political and peace processes, (2) to provide a platform for women leaders and peacemakers to share their experiences, including the challenges encountered in the promotion of peace and security in the Great Lakes region and (3) to assess the implementation of the participation pillar of UN Resolution 1325 (2000) in their respective countries.

In his opening remarks, the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for the Great Lakes region, Saïd Djinnit, underscored the important role that national and regional institutions play in terms of advancing women’s effective participation in political and peace processes.

“Through events like the one gathering us here today, we aim to engage not only with women leaders and advocates on the issue of participation, but also national Governments and their institutions as well as regional partners like the African Union, ICGLR and SADC on the effective and meaningful involvement of women in political and peace processes. Real progress on women’s participation in political and peace processes will only happen if there is sufficient political will and resources allocated from these crucial stakeholders”.

Following their two-day deliberations, women leaders developed the following recommendations for decision makers of countries and organisations of the region:

  • To Signatories of the PSC Framework: provide financial and technical support to the ICGLR Regional Women’s Forum and to the implementation of its 2017-2018 strategic plan, and guarantee women’s participation in the meetings of the Technical Support Committee and the Regional Oversight Mechanism of the PSC Framework.
  • To Ministries in charge of gender and to regional and international organisations: mobilise and allocate additional technical and financial resources in order to strengthen women’s capacities to effectively participate in political and peace processes, including in mediation and advocacy efforts.
  • To the AU, ICGLR, SADC and Signatory Countries of the PSC Framework: work towards the effective implementation of regional and continental policies, including the action plan of Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000), the Maputo Protocol, the AU Gender Policy, in order to ensure effective women’s participation in mediation, negotiation and conflict management processes, including through the establishment of a monitoring and evaluation mechanism.

The Global Open Days concluded on 2 February with a high-level dialogue attended by Ministers and their representatives in charge of gender, the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for the Great Lakes region, Mr. Saïd Djinnit, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the DRC, Mr. Maman Sidikou, the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the DRC and Resident Coordinator of the UN Country Team, Mr. Mamadou Diallo, and representatives of the AU and ICGLR. They discussed the national and regional-level recommendations emanating from the deliberations of women leaders. The session also allowed Ministers and their representatives in charge of gender to present recent progress on women’s political participation at the national level.

Reflecting on the situation in the DRC, SRSG Maman Sidikou emphasized the essential role Congolese women have to play in securing a peaceful, cohesive and prosperous society.

No society can afford to manage political dynamics and crises successfully without including women. I urge the DRC Government, political forces and civil society alike to guarantee a significant representation and participation of female leaders in current transitional governance processes and beyond, in order to facilitate an adequate representation of Congolese women in the future. On our side, MONUSCO reiterates its commitment to continue to support this noble endeavour”.

This dialogue session was followed by a side-meeting convened by Special Envoy Saïd Djinnit with Ministers and their representatives in charge of gender from the concerned countries and representatives of the PSC Framework Guarantors including the AU, the UN and ICGLR. The meeting discussed ways forward in the implementation of the three aforementioned recommendations, and in advancing women participation in political and peace processes in the region. In this respect, participants recommended to hold a meeting of Ministers of gender of signatory countries of the PSC Framework in order to find effective solutions to the challenges encountered by women in the region, in their efforts to promote peace and security.

The Women’s Platform for the PSC Framework was established by the Office of the Special Envoy in January 2014 to empower and support women in the region as leaders and peacemakers. Building on the recommendations made at the Global Open Days on Women, Peace and Security, it will continue its efforts to ensure that voices of women from the Great Lakes region are effectively heard, heeded and included in political and peace processes in the region.

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations (UN).

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Burundi: United Nations Experts Raise Alarm at Growing Repression of Non-Governmental Organizations and Human Rights Defenders

A group of United Nations human rights experts* today condemned the recent ban and provisional suspension of a number of civil society organizations in Burundi, and warned about “the obstructive, restrictive and stigmatizing effect of recent legislation on non-governmental organizations (NGOs), in a context of growing repression of human rights defenders.”

On 19 October 2016, the Burundian authorities banned five civil society organizations*. In December 2016, the Ligue ITEKA, one of the leading human rights institutions of the country, which was suspended in October as well as OLUFAD – an NGO promoting good governance and the fight against corruption – have also been barred. Another four organizations** were provisionally suspended.

Following that move, the National Assembly adopted two bills in December 2016 aimed at closely controlling the action of local and international NGOs. This new legislation compels local NGOs to obtain authorization from the Minister of the Interior for any activity and to transfer funds of foreign origin through the Central Bank. The work of foreign NGOs must comply with priorities set by the Government.

“These moves are just the latest in a series of attacks on the rights to freedom of expression and association in Burundi,” the experts, said. “Disturbingly, these measures take particular aim at human rights defenders and independent civil society, and are being used to unduly obstruct and criminalize their work on broad and often fallacious grounds.”

The experts emphasized that the Government’s latest moves against civil society were especially alarming in view of the overall situation for human rights defenders in the country.

“The situation for human rights defenders has been dramatically deteriorating for more than a year and a half,” they noted. “Those who have not yet left the country fear for their life and are under relentless intimidation, threat of arbitrary detention, torture and enforced disappearance.”

“The pattern of systematically targeting human rights organizations and human rights defenders, coupled with the restrictive legal environment, suggests that there is a deliberate will to suppress every dissenting voice in the country,” the Special Rapporteurs cautioned.

The human rights experts drew attention to allegations of a major increase in enforced disappearances with unconfirmed reports of over 60 cases during the last two months of 2016. They cited as an example the case of Marie-Claudette Kwizera, former treasurer of the Ligue ITEKA, who disappeared on 10 December 2015, and whose whereabouts remain unknown. “All reports of enforced disappearances must be thoroughly and independently investigated, and perpetrators brought to justice”, they added.

The Special Rapporteurs further called on the Burundian authorities to revise the new NGO legislation to ensure its compliance with international law and standards to prevent adverse consequences on the important work of hundreds of organizations and human rights defenders.

“It is crucial that the State promotes and protects the rights to freedom of expression and association enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Burundi is a State party,” they said. “All individuals, including human rights defenders, have the right to express themselves and associate freely, without fear of threats, intimidation, violence, arbitrary detention or enforced or disappearance,” the experts added.

The Special Rapporteurs recalled the unanimously strong stance adopted by various United Nations bodies, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council, which have also expressed serious concerns regarding the abundant evidence of gross human rights violations in Burundi.

“We urge the Government to put an end to the climate of impunity currently prevailing in the country, and to cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi and with the Office of the High Commissioner in a positive and collaborative manner, as an essential step towards ending the major crisis facing the country,” the United Nationsp independent experts concluded.

* The experts: Maina Kiai, Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Ms. Agnès Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

** The five banned organizations: Forum pour le renforcement de la société civile (FORSC), Forum pour la conscience et le développement (FOCODE), Action chrétienne pour l’abolition de la torture (ACAT), Association burundaise pour la protection des droits humains et des personnes détenues (APRODH), and Réseau des citoyens probes (RCP).

*** The four provisionally suspended organizations: SOS-Torture/Burundi, Coalition de la société civile pour le monitoring électorale (COSOME), Coalition burundaise pour la CPI (CB-CPI), Union burundaise des journalistes (UBJ).

Distributed by APO on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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