Welcome Remarks and Statement by HE Dr GNM Pandor, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Republic of South Africa, at the Friends of BRICS Foreign Ministers Meeting in Cape Town, 2 June 2023

Your Excellency, Ministers of Foreign Affairs,
BRICS Sherpas and Sous-Sherpas,
Ambassadors, Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


I have the honour to welcome you to Cape Town, South Africa, for our meeting as BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Friends of BRICS Foreign Ministers.


South Africa chairs BRICS this year under the theme “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism.” Our vision is for BRICS to provide global leadership in a world fractured by competition, geopolitical tension, inequality, and deteriorating global security.


This is the third time we chair BRICS since South Africa was invited to join in 2010. That was a time of optimism. Countries were considering problems bigger than themselves. We were united in horror at the global ravages of war, shocked by the impact of climate change, disturbed by the continued presence of global poverty and underdevelopment.


In 2015, we joined together to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The opening lines of the preamble remind us:


This Agenda is a plan of action for people, the planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom.


We recognise that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.


All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan.


We are resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want and to heal and secure our planet.


We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path.


As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind.


Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,


It is clear that today, we no longer share an understanding of the greatest global challenge. This is despite the reality that the COVID-19 pandemic set back our efforts to achieve Sustainable Developments Goals by almost a decade.


There is increased economic risk for the most vulnerable with low growth levels in much of the globe, and neglect of those in the greatest need. Food inflation and high energy prices have strained incomes and resulted in high debt costs and persistent uncertainty. And the attention and resources of our Western partners have been diverted and the agendas of our multilateral organisation no longer respond to the needs and demands of the global South.


The world has faltered in cooperation. Developed countries have never met their commitments to the developing world and are trying to shift all responsibility to the global South.


The poor and marginalized are facing the greatest threat in that their plight is forgotten while the so-called great powers fight. This is not the world we hoped for when the Cold War ended. This is not the world we promised our people in the 2030 Agenda.


South Africa desires a return to peace, multilateralism, and partnerships for development.


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,


Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that: “we think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do it well it spreads out, it is for the whole of humanity”. This is the essence of Ubuntu, a humanist African philosophy that underlies South Africa’s diplomacy as well the BRICS principles of mutually beneficial South – South cooperation.


The countries in this room today, and those joining virtually, represent a significant majority of the world’s territory, population and economy. We bring together continents, cultures, societies and civilisations.


Our first speaker as the Friends of BRICS is the Foreign Minister of the Comoros, a small island developing state carrying the voice of 55 African states, 1.4 billion Africans, part of a $3 trillion dollar continental economy. With their exclusive economic zones, the over 50 SIDS members bring together the second largest territory in the world after our Russian friends.


We in this room must decide on our plan of action. We are led by the 2030 Agenda. A regional conflict has not replaced eradicating global poverty as the world’s greatest global challenge. How do we bring the world’s attention and resources back to this fact?


The 2030 Agenda speaks of the need to transform and not just reform. One of the founding principles of BRICS has been our shared vision of the urgent need for global governance reform towards a more fair, just, equitable and representative world. 15 years later, it is clear that there is little appetite for reform from those in power. How do we transform our multilateral institutions so that they respond to our needs?


The 2030 Agenda speaks of collaborative partnership. How can BRICS and Africa –BRICS and the global South- move forward together with a common voice and collective action? How do we ensure that no one is left behind?


These are the questions I hope we can answer today.


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,


This meeting is one where BRICS seeks cooperation and collaboration with you. We stand to learn from you how we can work in partnership towards delivering mutually accelerated growth, sustainable development, and inclusive multilateralism.


I thank you.




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