Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

Ms Sylvia Lucas, the Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces and leader of the South African parliamentary delegation, addressed the 148th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, focusing on the theme: Building Bridges for Peace and Understanding.

In her speech, Ms Lucas stressed the necessity of confronting underlying injustices to achieve sustainable peace. She called on parliamentary leaders worldwide to help build bridges for peace and understanding.

“To achieve sustainable peace, we must bravely confront underlying injustices, which perpetuate inequality and hinder human development,” she said. She highlighted the responsibility of leaders to forge a new social and political order through active engagement in parliamentary diplomacy.

Ms Lucas underscored the current challenges of global peace threatened by polarisation. She also stressed the vital role of dialogue, consensus-building, and negotiation in fostering peace and cohesion among nations. “This we cannot accomplish by picking sides,” she said, “instead we must create a platform for everyone to be heard, without judgment, to ensure that we broker new constructs of understanding and empathy, even where deeply divergent views have been held.”

Addressing the ongoing conflict in Gaza, Ms Lucas referred to South Africa’s legal intervention under the Genocide Convention to prevent the humanitarian crisis from escalating. She quoted the Irish lawyer, Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh’s poignant words describing the Gaza conflict as the “first genocide in history being broadcast in real-time by its victims”. Ms Lucas advocated for support towards initiatives delivering enduring peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples and emphasised the importance of a two-state solution.

Highlighting the International Court of Justice’s provisional measures on Israel, Lucas called upon parliaments to exercise their constitutional duty in ensuring compliance with the Genocide Convention. She urged the IPU to oversee the implementation of these measures and establish mechanisms to address related issues, including detainees and hostages.

Regarding South Africa’s participation in the IPU’s Task Force on the Russia-Ukraine Conflict, Ms Lucas stressed the importance of diplomatic solutions through dialogue. She proposed establishing a similar task force to address conflicts affecting IPU member states, particularly considering the ICJ’s pronouncements on Israel and Palestine.

Ms Lucas also appealed to parliaments to await the results of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s investigation before making decisions regarding funding. She stressed the necessity of basing actions on factual outcomes to ensure continuous humanitarian support.

She highlighted the role of parliamentary diplomacy in promoting inclusivity, equal rights, and non-discrimination. She called upon the leaders of member parliaments to collaborate in finding peaceful solutions to global conflicts, particularly the Israel-Palestine issue.

Ms Lucas also stressed South Africa’s efforts in strengthening international ties, citing the successful hosting of the 9th BRICS Parliamentary Forum. She highlighted the role of parliamentarians in championing human rights, democracy, and the rule of law through collaborative efforts with civil society organisations.

“As parliamentarians, by embracing and implementing these good practices, we contribute to fostering peaceful and collaborative international relations. Through our dedicated efforts in parliamentary diplomacy, we facilitate understanding, collaboration, and constructive engagement on the global stage,” she said.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.

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