NCOP chair address Inter-Parliamentary Union
October 16, 2017
Saint Petersburg, Russia: Ongoing civil conflicts, slowing economies and threats of international terrorism are the historical products of bad politics and reckless pursuit of narrowly defined interests.
This was the message from National Council of Provinces (NCOP) chairperson, Thandi Modise, at 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly being hosted in Saint Petersburg.
Modise is the leader of the South African Parliamentary delegation to the IPU. She today addressed the IPU General Assembly on the theme: “Promoting cultural pluralism and peace through inter-faith and inter-ethnic dialogue”.
She is leading a seven member multiparty delegation. The other members of the delegation are Mmatlala Boroto, Doris Dlakude, Pumzile Justice Mnguni, Eddie Makue, Mike Waters and Lehlohonolo Goodwill Mokoena.
Moise said the Assembly was meeting amidst increasingly diverse and intense global challenges, such as ongoing civil conflicts, slowing economies and threats of international terrorism, amongst others. “These are the historical products of our bad politics and our reckless pursuit of narrowly defined interests.”
She said the failure to come together and resolve this political impasse over the years had shaken not only the foundations of global security and stability but has made the world a less secure place to live in.
“Many parts of the world are passing through difficult and trying times. Atrocities and persecution against individuals and states continue unabated,” Modise said.
The chairperson said it was not too late to turn the tide and build a world free of racism, discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerances, but it would require strengthened global, regional and national efforts.
She said one of the basic and most comprehensive sources of human rights was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which stresses human dignity and equality. “South Africa is committed to the universal values, rights and freedoms included in the declaration, which offers equal and universal human rights to all human beings. We believe in engaging in genuine dialogue. We also believe there could be no peace without understanding and cooperation among religions,” Modise said.
Modise explained to the Assembly that before 1994 South Africa were a country in war and racially segregated.
“We then embodied unique characteristics that withstood ordeals, which tested the will to live together for the past 23 years of democracy. We are not perfect. We still have serious challenges but, with our deeply rooted experience in unity and diversity, we know we will overcome. Our Constitution preamble states that: ‘We the people of South Africa, recognise the injustices of our past…. Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.”
She said the democracy was forged on the anvil of division, past injustice and economic inequity, but also on hope for reconciliation, nation building and social cohesion.
Modise said parliamentarians should strive in their constituencies to achieve the ideals of the United Nations to ensure that all humans could and should live better lives.
“We must all be guided by common values and work together to actualize these values in the wider society. Parliaments, therefore, have important roles to play due to their legislative functions and shall create the fundamentals for harmony among people. Parliaments and Parliamentarians, who represent the ideological values of people in different areas, can play influential roles and confront difficult," Modise said.
She said promoting dialogue based on the spirit of reconciliation was a prerequisite of development. “Tolerance and respect for the equal dignity of all human beings constitutes the foundations of a democratic, pluralistic society without which there is no ‘democratic society’” Modise said.