SA 'does not condone' Russian invasion, despite abstaining in UN vote - Pandor

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Dr. Naledi Pandor Photo: GCIS
Dr. Naledi Pandor Photo: GCIS
  • On Thursday, South Africa abstained from voting on a UN resolution to suspend Russia's membership to the Human Rights Council.
  • International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor said the government's stance at the UN did not mean it condoned the conflict in Ukraine.
  • Pandor maintained South Africa's position of being non-aligned in order to allow for dialogue and peace. 

Despite abstaining from voting in the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council, South Africa does not condone Russia's war on Ukraine, which it labelled as a violation of international law.

These were the sentiments of International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor, who briefed media on Friday, following the UN resolution which was adopted the day before.

Ninety-three countries voted in favour of suspending Russia from the Human Rights Council, while 24 countries voted against the resolution and 58 abstained.

Pandor said that, while South Africa had abstained, the government was not indifferent to the suffering of the people in Ukraine during the war.

She said: 

We are deeply concerned about the continuing conflict, the loss of lives and the deteriorating humanitarian situation.

"Our non-aligned position does not mean we condone Russia"s military intervention in Ukraine, which has been in violation of international law," the minister added.

Pandor said South Africa had always opposed violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states, in keeping with the UN Charter.

"We have also decried the humanitarian disaster that has resulted from the ongoing military operations and called for the urgent opening of humanitarian corridors and the provision of aid to the civilian population which, as usual, bears the brunt of the suffering when violent confrontation breaks out."

However, despite these views, South Africa has abstained from voting in a UN resolution on the war in Ukraine for a third time since Russia's invasion earlier this year.

READ | Russia-Ukraine war: Pandor warns SA diplomats from 'publicly or privately' criticising govt stance

Pandor sought to set the record straight, explaining that South Africa's decision to abstain was rooted in ensuring that dialogue for peace remains open.

"Wars end when dialogue begins, and wars endure when there is no dialogue."

The minister stressed that dialogue, mediation and diplomacy were the only path to end the conflict in Ukraine.

Pandor added that she was concerned about the notion of having Russia suspended from the Human Rights Council, as the more you marginalised the country, the worse the offences committed in war could become.

She said South Africa's positon was in keeping with the approach of members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which was formed in 1961 when developing countries in Africa and Asia committed themselves to maintaining independent foreign policies.

Pandor also addressed what she said appeared to be a lack of balance in the manner in which the UN was being utilised in the Ukraine war.

She said the approach taken in the war on Ukraine should be adopted in relation to all countries that violate international law.

She made mention of Israel's assaults on the Gaza Strip which was not met with sanctions.

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