Windhoek-President Hage Geingob has called on the United Nations (UN) to shun the culture of exclusivity and to embrace inclusivity at the highest levels by working on a plan to make the world body more reflective of the changing geopolitical landscape.
Namibia has remained steadfast in demanding two permanent seats on the UN Security Council (UNSC) for African member states.
“We do so in the belief that it is unjustified for 54 countries – who represent 1.2 billion of the world’s population – to be denied a place among the permanent seats of the UN Security Council. We are convinced that democratisation of the UN Security Council will render effective the maintenance of international peace and security,” he said.
Geingob, who made the remarks this week during the launch of the Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab Lecture Series, said Namibians should utilise the lecture series to analyse the likely impact that global trends have on the country’s national development programmes, and on peace and security.
In view of the fact that foreign policy is an extension of domestic policy, Geingob said Namibia should seize the opportunity offered by the changing geopolitical landscape to pursue its national interest in building relations and partnerships that allow for increased trade, value-addition, innovation and shared prosperity.
He said Namibia’s goals and interests were defined by Vision 2030, the accompanying national development plans, as well as the Harambee Prosperity Plan.
These plans, he said, chart the course of the developmental trajectory on which government aims to take the country over the next several decades.
He said it is, therefore, crucial that Namibia’s foreign policy speaks to these domestic goals and helps translate these into concrete actions that can help achieve the country’s developmental objectives.
“Today, we need to go beyond the dictionary definition of foreign policy as a policy pursued by a nation in its dealings with other nations, designed to achieve national objectives. It must also have a larger dimension of global welfare.
“We need to be involved in the Southern African Development Community for the welfare of our region; in the African Union for the welfare of Africa, and in other agencies, including the United Nations and its agencies dealing with international issues,” the president said.
He added that Namibia needs to be concerned about conflicts, drought and refugee problems in Africa and beyond, noting that there is a need to urgently address the pressing challenges of global warming, global trade and terrorism.
He stressed that this decade has presented many foreign policy challenges for a country that anchors its foreign policy in principles it shares with the UN, and cited the economic boom and bust, increased social and economic inequality, challenges to human rights, poverty and intractable wars in many parts of Africa and the Middle East, as well as refugee crises and threats of terror.
Geingob also noted the implications of the rapid evolution of social media and the resulting change in the dynamics of democracy, as well as the challenges posed by climate change, the isolationist policies of certain states, including threats to global trade and other international agreements.
“These are the challenges that impact upon what is in the interest of our country and the principles we stand for,” he said.
He then highlighted some of the accomplishments of Gurirab, after whom the lecture series is named.
He said Theo Ben Gurirab, the former speaker of parliament, represented Swapo at the UN where he served as deputy representative and petitioner on Namibia to the UN and the Americas from 1964 to 1972, and as chief representative of Swapo from 1972 to 1986.
He said Gurirab as a diplomat at the UN helped spearhead the transformation of Swapo from a mere movement of petitioners to a mainstream movement of negotiators and participants in the international political arena.
He added that the UN General Assembly in 1976 recognised Swapo as “the sole and authentic representative of the Namibian people”. As such, both Geingob and Gurirab became permanent observers at the UN, as Swapo now had observer status in the General Assembly.
President Geingob recalled the 14 years Gurirab represented Swapo and Namibia at the UN, saying his efforts contributed enormously to the growing political and diplomatic status of the party and helped it become an organisation with high standing, recognized as indispensable to the resolution of the Namibian question.