A common understanding on the importance of multilateral institutions and forums for addressing global challenges, has created a good basis for fruitful cooperation between South Africa and Norway, said Norwegian King Harald V. “South Africa and Norway share the values and ideals of democracy, human rights, security and development,” he added.

Visiting the University of Pretoria, the Norwegian royal couple were in attendance at the opening of a South African Institute of International Affairs seminar discussing States in Fragile Environments: common engagement for conflict resolution and development. Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister Jonas Gahr-Store added that South Africa and Norway could focus on where each country had the capacity to make a difference individually, however, each country could make a bigger difference when working together.

Gahr-Store highlighted that when striving for reconstruction and development, drawing on past failures and successes was imperative. He also stated that multilateral interventions needed to be carried out within a regional context, and, importantly, postconflict reconstruction must consider human rights, and ensure that a culture of impunity does not develop. King Harald V highlighted examples of South African and Norwegian cooperation. One was the joint effort between the two countries in the process leading up to the treaty banning antipersonnel mines, which was signed in 1997.

“Southern Africa was a region that had experienced the devastating effects of land mines of its people at close hand. Roads could not be passed, land could not be cultivated, buildings had to be abandoned due to the ever-present danger of mines planted years before,” he stated. He further stated that South Africa and Norway continue to be engaged in countries like Burundi, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. “The focus of dialogue and concrete action is the broader context of human security, supporting peace processes and peacebuilding.”

South African Deputy International Relations and Cooperation Minister Sue van der Merwe stated that another of the important relationships between the two countries centred on climate change collaboration – “one of the great challenges of our time,” she said. “We value the assistance and cooperation with Norway in this regard, greatly,” she added.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb

PUBLICATION: Engineering News
AUTHOR: Christy van der Merwe
DATED: 24th November 2009