Foreign affairs to co-host a conference on multlateralism and international law

It is foreseen that the ‘Conference on Multilateralism and International Law with Western Sahara as a Case Study’ would seek to reflect on the status of the territory under international law, the principle of self-determination, the respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, obligations on third states and the lawfulness and/or legitimacy of natural resource exploitation in Western Sahara.

The conference is convened within the context of South Africa’s foreign policy which is guided by the principle and vision of “a better South Africa in a better Africa and a better World”. Key to this foreign policy precept is the promotion of a rules based international order through multilateralism. The conflict in Western Sahara and the response from the international community in resolving the issue presents a pertinent case study for the assertion that legality remains the essential prerequisite for the resolution of conflict between nations.

Accordingly South Africa, as a member of the United Nations and the African Union, is obligated to actively support the legitimate right of the Saharawi People to choose their own destiny. On 15 September 2004, South Africa took a decision to recognise the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) when it became clear that Morocco had ruled out any possibility for a referendum for self-determination, in contravention of Security Council resolution 1495.

The Conference will feature the following imminent government representatives, scholars and experts:

· Ms Sue van der Merwe, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

· Dr Sidi Omar, Member of the Polisario Front Negotiating Team, Western Sahara

· Prof Abdelhamid El Ouali, Professor of Law, University of Casablanca, Morocco

· Prof. Macharia Munene, Professor of History and International Relations, United States International University, Nairobi, Kenya

· Mr Toby Shelley, Journalist and Writer, Hitchin, UK

· Prof. Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics, University of San Francisco, USA

· Mr Jacob Mundy, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, UK

· Amb Frank Ruddy, US Ambassador (ret) and Former Deputy Chairman, UN Peacekeeping Mission for Western Sahara (MINURSO), Washington, USA

· Prof Haroub Othman, Professor of Development Studies, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

· Mr Pedro Pinto Leite, Secretary International Platform of Jurists for East Timor, Leiden, The Netherlands

· Prof Christine Chinkin, Professor of International Law, London School of Economics, UK

· Prof Carlos Ruiz Miguel, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain

· Sen Pierre Galand, President of the European Coordination Committee in Solidarity with the Saharawian People, Brussels, Belgium

· Ambassador Hans Corell, Swedish Ambassador (ret), Former Under Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and the Legal Counsel of the United Nations, Sweden

· Mr Eric Hagen, Journalist from the Norwegian news service Norwatch, Oslo, Norway

· Mr Francesco Bastagli, Former Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Western Sahara, Italy

· Mr M’hamed Khadad, Polisario Coordinator with the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) and Spokesperson for the Polisario Negotiating Team, Bir Lehlou, Western Sahara


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