Africa and the global struggle for peace and justice

The outlook of South Africa is that democracy, peace, and security on the continent, as well as on an international scale, can best flourish under respect for the rules of international law which guarantee national freedom and human rights, argues Dikobé Ben Martins

It is important that the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation and supporters of the struggle against modern practices of neocolonialism focus their attention on the inextricable cause-and-effect connection between the crimes of colonialism, neocolonialism, and the increasing inequality and poverty in developing countries today.

The African continent, despite having had to bear the heavy burden and consequences of the historical injustices of slavery, colonial exploitation, and neocolonialism remains resilient and strong. However, it has not yet fully recovered from the damage caused by these experiences.

Africa’s ongoing struggle for peace, justice, and prosperity continues to develop qualitatively based on cooperation between its nations and peoples. It is a struggle to understand the world and its underlying trends. It is a struggle that seeks to point the way for human society.

It is in this context that South Africa must deal with some pretty fundamental strategic issues.

The outlook of South Africa is that democracy, peace, and security on the continent, as well as on an international scale, can best flourish under respect for the rules of international law which guarantee national freedom and human rights.

South Africa strives for a democratic multipolar world order based on the principles of international law; the sovereign equality of states; independence; development and cooperation; upholding justice and the norms of the United Nations Charter; mutual trust; the prosperity of peoples; and defending peace and stability throughout the world.

South Africa’s internationalist commitment draws inspiration from the profound words of President Nelson Mandela who held that, “The struggle persists as long as any individual suffers injustice.”

South Africa remains steadfast in pursuit of alliances for global justice, human rights, dignity, and international solidarity.

Therefore, our country is guided by the principles and objectives of international solidarity to defend, preserve, and promote the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the precepts of international law. This entails a commitment to upholding the principles of the sovereignty and equality of states, territorial integrity, mutual respect, non-intervention, and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

South Africa deems it important to strengthen multilateralism and to comprehensively reform the multilateral global governance status quo, including that of the UN and international financial institutions, in order to make them democratic and relevant to the needs and aspirations of the peoples of the Global South and current international realities.

Thus, South Africa supports the Ezulwini Consensus and the Sirte Declaration endeavours for increased representation for Africa in a reformed UN Security Council. It further recognises the importance of strengthening regional and sub-regional cooperation and integration for enhancing the economic and social development of African countries through industrial cooperation and facilitating the acceleration of economic development.

In the current dynamic of international relations, amidst escalating geopolitical tensions, as witnessed by the United States-led NATO proxy war with Russia, on the battlefield of Ukraine, as well as Israel’s wanton occupation of Palestine and genocidal war on Gaza, world peace and security have become much more imperilled.

Countries are now faced with existing, new, and emerging threats and challenges which impede their efforts to attain greater economic development, social progress, the enjoyment of human rights under the aegis of the rule of law, security, peace, and development.

However, it is also clear that the unipolar world is coming to an end.

The dominance of the US which took off after the demise of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War is now withering away before the eyes of the world.

And in order to decisively rid the world of neocolonialism, countries of the Global South must work closer together to counter neocolonial practices and to foster positive developmental cooperation for the long term.

It is a moral and political indictment on France that in 2024 it still levies a ‘Colonial Tax’ amounting to approximately 500 billion dollars on Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon.  Such exploitation, while maintaining the formal manifestations of these countries’ independence, is an abject travesty of justice.

Commitment to building a fair and equitable multipolar world order with the central role of the UN Charter and other universally accepted norms of international law, based on the principles of equality and sovereignty, is urgently needed.

The pursuit of liberty, equality, fraternity, and democracy are the inalienable rights of people the world over.

With reference to the pressing developments and emergency situation in Palestine, a case that the South African government has proudly taken a prominent role in bringing before the International Court of Justice, the UNSC should yet again be called upon to shoulder its responsibility in confronting the aggression and escalation of genocide pursued by the occupying state of Israel in Gaza.

South Africa remains gravely concerned at the continuing deterioration of the situation in Gaza, where the besieged population continues to suffer immense loss of life and injury, widespread destruction of their homes, and massive forced displacement as Israel continues its barbaric indiscriminate attacks on civilian men, women, and children.

South Africa has called on the UNSC to ensure the full implementation of resolution 2720 (2023) to allow for the provision of lifesaving humanitarian aid to Palestinians throughout Gaza.

Responses to Israel’s ethnic cleansing in Palestine in general and its genocidal war in Gaza and the West Bank are a barometer of the actual commitment of the US, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, Australia, and the European Union to the primacy of international law and the UN Charter, as well as their moral compass towards international relations more widely.

More countries should bring the charge of genocide against the occupying State of Israel at the International Court of Justice. Taking a stance against Israel may be arduous but within collective resolve lies the power to effect meaningful change.

South Africa remains committed to the universality of peace, co-existence, equality, social justice, national self-determination, and democracy for all peoples.

In this vein, South Africa fully supported the Non-Aligned Movement XIX Summit of Heads of State and Government, held on 19 – 20 January 2024 in Kampala, along with the outcome documents of previous NAM Summits and ministerial meetings that strove for a stronger and united NAM that contributes to the betterment of all member states in the areas of peace and security, development, human rights, and international cooperation.

It further supports the revitalisation and reinvigoration of the role of the NAM in contemporary international affairs, based on its founding principles and mission, as stipulated in Bandung (1955) and Belgrade (1961) to strive towards a peaceful, equitable, and prosperous world.

It further reaffirms the validity and relevance of the progressive movement, in which South Africa has a proud prominent role, and its unshakeable commitment to – and principles regarding – the inalienable right to self-determination of peoples under foreign occupation and neo-colonial or alien domination.

Dikobé Ben Martins, born 2 September 1956 in the Alexandra township in Johannesburg, is a long-time activist, well-known graphic artist, and poet.  He is a former political prisoner, having been jailed by the apartheid regime between 1983 to 1991, on Robben Island and in Johannesburg. He is currently the Secretary for International Relations of the South African Communist Party (SACP) as well as a veteran member of the African National Congress (ANC).  He has served as South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises (2010-2012); Minister of Transport (2012-2013); and Minister of Energy (2013-2014), as well as several other Cabinet posts, during his time as a parliamentarian since 1994 and the democratic overthrow of the apartheid. Liberation is grateful to Ben to take time out of his campaigning for an ANC victory at the forthcoming election in South Africa to write a piece for Liberation

This article first appeared in Liberation journal

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Photo: South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the ) International Court of Justice at the Hague, Friday 12 January 2024

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