International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Naledi Pandor, is leading South Africa’s delegation to the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA77) which opens debate in New York City on Tuesday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa was expected to lead his county’s contingent but a power crisis has forced him to return home to oversee an end to Stage 6 power load-shedding exercise which power utility Eskom instituted at the weekend.
Pandor, leading a high-powered delegation which includes Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, will instead lead the weeklong debate themed, “A Watershed Moment: Unlocking Transformative Solutions To Interlocking Challenges.”
She said that this year’s UNGA theme resonated well with South Africa’s philosophy of working together as a global community to find solutions to challenges affecting the global community.
“UNGA77 is being held at a time when the world is characterised by geopolitical tensions, concerns around the proliferation of mini-lateral security pacts which, in part, replicate the work that should ordinarily be undertaken by the UN Security Council,” the minister said.
She added: “The world economy is under strain and its ramifications on food, energy and finances require a united global response.”
Apart from UNGA meetings, several high-level meetings are expected to be held on the margins of the main UN forum focusing on transforming education, the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, elimination of nuclear weapons and several climate-related engagements, she said.
The climate change engagements, according to the minister, would precede the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change conference that is scheduled to take place in November 2022 in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt.
The various engagements at UNGA are expected to provide South Africa an opportunity to highlight issues of national, regional and international importance, the minister said.