Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Botswana has no definitive stance on the Russia, Ukraine conflict despite vote

The Botswana government has no clear position on the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine despite the decision to vote in favor of the UN resolution. 

The country has emerged as one of the few African countries that offered to co-sponsor the United Nation Security Council’s draft resolution that called on Russia to reverse its ongoing military attack on Ukraine.

Botswana was one of the 87 out of the 193 members of the United Nations that supported the United States-backed resolution that condemned Moscow’s ‘aggression’ against Ukraine. The resolution demanded that Moscow immediately withdraw its forces from Ukrainian territory.

Asked to state Botswana’s official position on the conflict the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation could not offer a tailor made response to the war suffice it to say “as a Member State of the United Nations, Botswana subscribes to the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations which enjoins its members to respect the sanctity of territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

The Ministry’s Spokesperson Mavis Matenge said Botswana’s position is informed by her commitment to the principles and purpose of the United Nations Charter and the rules-based order, and to upholding the principles, as espoused in Article 1 of the Charter.  

South Africa’s response to their vote was more specific to the matter at hand. SA (who chose to abstain) expressed their reservations on the manner in which the UN handled the matter. The South African government said the UN resolution failed to address the security concerns raised by the Russians.

“While we agree with and support Member States’ efforts to bring the situation in Ukraine to the attention of the international community, South Africa believes that more attention should have been paid to bring the parties closer to the dialogue. For South Africa, the text in its current form could drive a deeper wedge between the parties rather than help resolve the conflict.”

Russia (a permanent member of the UN Security Council) vetoed the resolution, drafted by the United States and Albania.

The principal sponsors of the text that was circulated at the UN’s recent United Nations Security Council meeting had called on the entire UN membership among them Botswana to come forward as co-sponsors.

Botswana’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Matenge confirmed the country was one of the countries that co-sponsored the United Nations (UN) Security Council draft resolution in response to the Federal Republic of Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

International media reports indicate that the principal sponsors had called on the entire UN membership to come forward as co-sponsors. Out of the 54 countries in Africa, Botswana, Gambia, Liberia, Lesotho, Egypt, Gabon and Nigeria heeded the call to co-sponsor the resolution.

Asked what could have informed Botswana’s decision to heed the call to be one of the co-sponsors of the text that was circulated at UNSC meeting Matenge said, Botswana’s position is informed by her commitment to the principles and purpose of the United Nations Charter and the rules-based order, and to upholding these principles, as espoused in Article 1 of the Charter.”  

Article 1 states among others that the purposes of the UN are “to maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.”

Reports indicate that the majority of the co-sponsors were from Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific Ocean Islands states.

From Asia, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Turkey and Singapore co-sponsored the resolution while the US, UK, France, Albania, Ireland and Norway emerged as permanent members of the UN Security Council that co-sponsored the resolution. India, China and the United Arab Emirates abstained.

Matenge said however that Botswana supports the call for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

“As a country, we are a strong believer in the letter and spirit of the UN Charter and that it should be upheld by all Member States at all times,” she said.

The draft resolution was not adopted as Russia used its privilege as a permanent member to veto the text. While 11

The US permanent representative to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the “Security Council voted on a resolution to hold Russia accountable for its aggression against Ukraine, to protect civilians, including children, and call for the facilitation of rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian assistance to those in need.”

“We believe we have a particular responsibility to stand up to this violation of the UN Charter because Russia is a Permanent Member of the Security Council who is culpable. Those of us standing here today continue to believe in the Security Council’s solemn duty and highest purpose – to prevent conflict and avert the scourge of war,” she said.

Thomas-Greenfield commended Member States “who signed on as co-sponsors of this resolution for standing with Ukraine and with the UN Charter today.” Russian President Vladimir Putin has remained resolute in his decision to invade Ukraine.


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