LETTER: Jaw, jaw better than war, war

by | Jun 22, 2023 | General | 0 comments

The hue and cry over the somewhat farcical activities on the apron of the Warsaw Airport, ascribable to botched logistical arrangements, has tended to obscure the essence of the African peace mission to Ukraine and Russia led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, which visited the presidents of both warring countries in recent days.

The nub of the statecraft involved in the peace initiative contains sound reliance upon basic elements of international law and a commitment to the notion that “jaw, jaw is better than war, war”. Both warring parties have been gently reminded of their commitments to world peace, respect for the territorial integrity of states and the principles of the UN Charter on sovereignty. The stance of the mission was based on tried and tested principles of international law and relations.

From an SA perspective the position taken by the mission puts our policy stance back where it was on February 24 2022 when the department of international relations & co-operation issued a (rapidly withdrawn) media statement containing the words: “SA calls on Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukraine in line with the UN Charter, which enjoins all member states to settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice are not endangered. SA emphasises respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.”

The 10 proposals of the mission have put the SA position onto a more firmly based nonaligned stance — visits to Russia, joint naval exercises, the Lady R debacle and general governing party coziness with Vladimir Putin and his cohorts notwithstanding.

Perhaps the trade preference benefits of the Africa Growth & Opportunity Act will not be lost to SA after the sterling statecraft in the mission is analysed more fully by decisionmakers.

The next big challenge is to respect and execute the warrant for Putin’s arrest issued by the International Criminal Court should he be so ill-advised as to attend the Brics summit in person in SA in August.

Paul Hoffman, SC
Accountability Now

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