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week, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) deputy
ministers/special envoys on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region met
in Pretoria. The purpose was to exchange views on the current situation in
preparation for the 10th BRICS Summit of Heads of State and Government,
scheduled to take place from 25 to 27 July 2018 in Johannesburg.
meeting of the deputy ministers and special envoys has established itself as an
integral part of BRICS.
Middle East and North Africa are regions that since ancient times have had rich
civilisations, cultures and traditions, contributing positively to advancements
in various facets of life, including science, arts, culture, politics, etc.
MENA region is now at a critical juncture in its history, as its people
struggle to contain and resolve persistent conflict, address the challenges of
terrorism and extremism and develop democracy. The underlying causes of these
conflicts are deeply complex.
the 2011 uprisings, conflicts of divergent origins across the Middle East and
North Africa have intersected and spread into other regions. Some of these
uprisings have managed to develop into peaceful transitions towards democracy.
Others have remained within the range of civil conflicts. Two have become
horrific civil wars; the unintended consequences of which have spread and
affected the continental and international geopolitical sphere.
our deliberations was the commitment to the basic principle that international
peace and security should be achieved and sustained solely in accordance with,
and in full respect of international law, including the United Nations (UN)
Charter, with the UN Security Council (SC) bearing the primary responsibility
for maintaining international peace and security. No effort to undermine the
multilateral system, however imperfect and unreformed it might be, should deter
international cooperation at all levels to prevent and resolve conflict and to
create the conditions for peace, stability, development and prosperity.
is no place for unlawful resorting to force or external interference in any
conflict. Ultimately, lasting peace can only be established through
broad-based, inclusive national dialogue with due respect for the independence,
territorial integrity and sovereignty of each of the countries of the MENA
region. In our discussions, we reflected on specific country situations,
namely: Syria, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, and the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP),
as the BRICS deputy ministers/special envoys remained concerned about the
situation in Syria and reiterated our support for an inclusive
"Syrian-led, Syrian-owned" political process, which safeguards the
state sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria, in
pursuance of UNSC Resolution 2254 (2015). We also gave our support for the
continuation of the important work done in the context of the Geneva Peace
Talks. We furthermore welcomed key contributions of the Astana Process, which
showed signs of positive developments on the ground in the last few months, in
particular the creation of de-escalation zones and holding of the Congress of
the Syrian National Dialogue in Sochi on 30 January 2018.
regard to Libya, we expressed serious concern about the political and security
situation in that country, highlighting the extremely negative consequences for
the Middle East, North Africa and Sahel region. We noted that the military
intervention in the country in 2011, led to instability, dire humanitarian
consequences and the spread of terrorism, extremism and other criminal
activities in the region and beyond.
these challenges, we expressed our support for the continued efforts of the UN
Special Representative for Libya, Ghassan Salame. We also reaffirmed our
support for the regional role players such as the African Union High-Level
Panel on Libya, chaired by Congo’s President, Denis Sassou-N’Guesso, to engage
all Libyan stakeholders in a constructive dialogue in pursuance of the UN
Action Plan for Libya, announced in September 2017.
Iraq, we welcomed the parliamentary elections held in May this year, as well
as the complete liberation of territories in the country
previously occupied by ISIS. We hope that the holding of and the outcome of
this elections will strengthen Iraq’s democratic institutions, broaden
dialogue, strengthen negotiations and promote more peaceful political
co-existence. The international community must continue to support the government and people of Iraq in their efforts to fight terrorism and
respect to Yemen, we expressed grave concern about the ongoing conflict, which
is having a disastrous impact on human security as well as regional stability.
This conflict has already led to unspeakable suffering among the civilian
population, including women, children and the elderly. It has also resulted in
the wilful destruction of a significant part of its essential services and
infrastructure, resulting in a major humanitarian crisis.
We have therefore as
the BRICS deputy ministers/envoys on MENA have called for unhindered access for
the provision of humanitarian assistance to all parts of Yemen in order to
relieve the health, social and economic situation in this country. We also urge
all parties to fully respect international law, to cease hostilities and to
return to the UN brokered peace talks. Furthermore, the UN Special
Representative Martin Griffiths’ efforts to restart talks among all Yemeni
parties must be supported. The way forward to achieve peace, prosperity and
security in Yemen is through an inclusive Yemeni-led dialogue towards the
achievement of a political solution to the conflict.
our deliberations on the MEPP, we were gravely concerned that, for years now,
there had neither been peace nor a real process. The recent killings of over
100 Palestinians and thousands more injured in Gaza by Israeli troops have led
to the situation becoming even graver with dire humanitarian consequences for
the Palestinians, not only in Gaza and the West Bank, but also within Israel
itself. The decision to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem has further
aggravated the situation.
this regard, we were unanimous in our resolve that the conflicts elsewhere in
the MENA should not be used as pretext to delay the resolution of the
long-standing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. We reiterated the need for renewed
diplomatic efforts to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is important if we are to achieve peace
and stability in the Middle East with a view to creating an independent,
viable, territorially contiguous Palestinian state living side by side in peace
media statement we adopted at the end of our meeting highlighted all these
serious realities we face and specified how we as BRICS countries intend to
contribute to resolving them. We will continue to hold regular consultations on
the MENA until there is lasting peace, stability and prosperity in the MENA
- Luwellyn Landers is Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.
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