By Beny Gideon Mabor
February 3, 2013 - Last year on 29, November, 2012, the United Nations General Assembly in its sitting No: sixty-seventh General Assembly Plenary 44th & 45th meetings overwhelmingly voted and accorded Palestine as a Non-Member Observer State in the United Nations family for the first time since establishment of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in 1975 by Resolution No: 3376.
In practice, this decision is in line with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution No: 2949 adopted on 30 November 1970 which established a universal realization of the right of peoples to self-determination and of the speedy granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples for the effective guarantee and observance of human rights.
According to the committee report with reference No: A/67/35 states ‘that the reporting period, 7 October 2011 to 6 October 2012, was characterized by the deadlocked political process and the deteriorating socio-economic situation in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem’. With this appalling situation of fellow human beings and without prejudice to the agreed inalienable rights of the Palestinian people; the UN General Assembly explores all avenues for amicable solution including recognition of self-determination for the Palestinian people. This will help closely monitor the state of Palestine in the interest of peace and security.
According to the report, attempts have been made but there has never been any sign of peaceful progress and indeed towards resuming direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The Jewish state of Israel continues with its settlement activity and adheres to the long-standing terms of reference of the peace process.’ With this critical observation, the General Assembly in 2012 thought wise to introduce this contestable agenda before the Council for voting with the objective to ‘breathe new life’ into peace process, as said by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The voting exercise took place smoothly and the UN General Assembly indeed issued a birth certificate of the reality of the State of Palestine.
The state of Palestine by large margin got majority votes of 138 member states in favor of Resolution No:A/68/L.54 on the right of self-determination of the people of Palestine and Resolution No: A/67/L.28 on the status of Palestine in the United Nations respectively. Conditionally, the two Resolutions were merged together and if you vote for the first, then you have automatically endorses the second and vice versa. There were only 9 countries against the Resolutions and they are Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Panama, Palau, United States), with 41 abstentions. With job well done, South Sudan is amongst countries that voted to grant the right of self-determination and observer status of Palestine in the United Nations. Congratulations for the job well done and it is a sovereign decision.
South Sudan must stand by its sovereign decisions
Shortly after announcement of results; the speculations of unhappiness about South Sudan vote in favor of Palestine state erupt up on hearsay evidence in South Sudan and in the US. The first complaint came from one Republican congressman, identified as fellow Jews describing our decision to be bad instead we should support his fellow Jews in Israel. The second speculation developed from within our country and government for those who does not know US foreign policy strategy toward South Sudan that we are mistaken to vote for Palestine.
However, some policy makers thought if U.S.A opposed the vote; South Sudan should have followed the suit. It is very unfortunate expectation and I am afraid if we have a nation like this that we can continue shivering after US and other powerful nations without our sovereign decisions regardless of our infant economic position and other state apparatus. Remember we are no longer under foreign occupation and US has never been our colonizer though.
The US support for peaceful settlement of our political crisis in the then Republic of Sudan which led to the independence of South Sudan on 9, July 2011 is much recognized. The government and people of United State have special due respect in our hearts and minds together with other countries that stood with South Sudan in its just cause for political settlement, but it is not a credit the American government can directly interfere in our foreign policy strategy towards other nations. South Sudan is an Independent Republic with it functioning machinery of government and guided by its own principles including foreign policy framework enshrined under the Transitional Constitution and the law. South Sudan is not under foreign domination or protectorate unless otherwise altered without public knowledge.
Article 43 (a) and (e) of the Transitional Constitution states that ‘foreign policy of the Republic of South Sudan shall serve the national interest and shall be conducted independently and transparently with the view to achieving the following: (a) promotion of international cooperation, specially within the United Nations family, African Union and other international and regional organizations, for the purposes of consolidating universal peace and security, respect for international law, treaty obligations and fostering a just world economic order and (e) respect for international law and treaty obligations, as well as the seeking of the peaceful settlement of international disputes by negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and adjudication’. With this constitutional provisions, the question of Palestine falls within our jurisdiction and in compliance with the supreme law of the land cited above, it is imperative to vote in favor of Palestine and we should not be threaten by any state or any public body.
In our informal discussion in Juba and elsewhere in South Sudan about the affirmation for the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people, some of us advise that let us not panic about the letter written by one Republic Congressman. The good thing about American politics and governance is that there are developed tasks as a covenant between people and the political leadership. The Obama-led administration is Democrat and US foreign policy toward South Sudan cannot be change by a single congressman even from the opposition side.
Back to South Sudan with respect to Palestinians situation, the political leadership in Juba has never changed their mind about affirmation for the right of self-determination. This is confirmed in a statement made by current Cabinet Affairs Minister Hon. Deng Alor, in Cairo, Egypt on date 6, August 2011 that “his country will recognize an independent Palestinian state within 1967 borders at the United Nations General Assembly when it comes up for a vote in September” according to a report published by Palestinian News and Info Agency WAFA online news service.
Secondly and on top of South Sudan leadership, President Gen. Salva Kiir in his maiden speech on the occasion of proclamation of independence of South Sudan on 9 July 2011 said “as we look forward to becoming Africa’s 54th State and 193 3rd nation of the United nations, South Sudan pledges to abide by international covenants and conventions to which we shall seek to accede as soon as possible. We will be a responsible member of the international community, playing our role as defined by international law and as dictated by our own vales and ethics”.
In an explanatory note in support of the bid, South Sudan Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Dr. Francis Nazario in compliance with these international legal instruments recognized by South Sudan, he courageously told the council, that his delegation had supported the right of self-determination for the people of Palestine. That principle accounted for the existence of many countries, he said was “always contentious”. Dr. Francis further said South Sudan had achieved its independence from Sudan after a struggle that had lasted half a century. It believed that, in the context of a conflict between two identity groups, the most practical and viable outcome was a negotiated solution. While South Sudan had voted in favor of the resolution, it still encouraged the parties to pursue a negotiated settlement”.
Two weeks later after circulation of the said dilemma surrounding South Sudan vote in favor of Palestine, both Permanent Representatives to UN Amb. Dr. Francis Mading Deng and his Deputy Dr. Francis Nazario were summoned to Juba for questioning by the leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and they also met the President for clarification on their voting. The inquiry went through and the top diplomats were told to go back to their normal duties in New York.
In fact, South Sudan vote was casted by Dr. Francis Nazario on delegation from his Boss Dr. Francis Mading, when he was busy that day for a working lunch with UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon according him. The question is left to the right thinking members of the society to ascertain whether the dodging to vote by Dr. Francis Mading on the voting day and throw the ball to his Deputy was intentional and calculated to cause what has happened now to his deputy? And whether his working lunch with UN Secretary General is more important than his country and the assignment vested upon him by Constitution and the law? The shift or transfer of powers from Dr. Francis Mading to his Deputy Dr. Francis Nazario was at last hours even the explanatory note in support of the vote was single handily drafted by Dr. Francis Mading. Therefore, Amb. Nazario only implement what has been agreed between them in line with directive from the government in Juba.
When I had the honor to speak to him and asked about his response when he learned of a new topic introduced in the UN Council of merging the two resolutions together, Dr. Francis Nazario said he contacted the Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Nhial Deng Nhial, 48 hours prior to voting by email and also text him on mobile phone as were his normal channel of communication but there was no reply. He said he has also contacted Dr. Francis Mading on phone but could not reach him for a comment. So regardless of the new topic introduced and our policy leadership in Juba had already supported the rights of Palestinian people as explained herein, Amb. Nazario voted in favor of Palestine.
The good decision by South Sudan to vote in favor of Palestine is also applauded within the region and the diaspora. A clear example is Ethiopian official of the Permanent Mission to the United Nations when he was talking to Andrew Luis, from Independent Diplomat on 16, January 2013. The official said “that Ethiopia had carefully analyzed South Sudan’s voting record at the UN General Assembly over the September to December period – as it did the voting record of all of its neighbors and partners – and had found it to be “very good.” He added that it was important for South Sudan to take into consideration the opinions of its regional partners and to act consistently with its region, as it had evidently done during this past session. In this regard, the official said that the RSS’s vote in favor of Palestine’s bid for upgraded status at the UN General Assembly was absolutely the right move.
Despite normality of the situations after the controversial votes, yet Amb. Dr. Francis Nazario was served with termination of assignment as Deputy Permanent Representative to UN on 31st December 2012 and asked to report himself to Juba not later than 15 February 2013, and which he did. Now comes the questions what is the mistake done by this person considering the whole background to the problem discuss above? If Dr. Francis Nazario is wrong to vote for Palestine, why not relieving all of them since the principal Head of Mission was the one who prepared everything including explanatory note? What is contrary to the foreign policy of South Sudan toward Palestine again if the President and his Ministers endorses the right of self-determination for others in policy statements? Is Dr. Francis Nazario aligned to ethnic identity or what? Why victimizing him for no reasons? Is Dr. Francis Mading Deng, too big to be held responsible for his mistake (s) if he has done something wrong to victimize his deputy for what both of them have equal share? Anyway, I pray the political leadership to find correct answers to these questions.
In conclusion, I would like to register that the reasons why I took up this issue are as follows: First, South Sudan got independence through right of self-determination which has been recognized by international community including Palestine. Therefore, South Sudan must be the champion of self-determination and has every right to support Palestine in their similar cause and nothing wrong has been committed by Dr. Francis Nazario to warrant his termination of assignment at the United Nations.
Second, I am writing to correct the misrepresentation across South Sudan and beyond that Dr. Francis Nazario has betrayed South Sudan. It is not true and you can now read the background history including Salva-administration to vote in favor of Palestine. However, if such a situation is left unchallenged, it will set very bad precedent in history of foreign policy that a high profile diplomat like this gentleman is recalled from such important assignment and dammed in Juba, where he will not contribute anything of immediate positive impact, when our country is in need of his caliber to speak out on behalf of South Sudan.
With utmost good faith, I do not know Dr. Francis Nazario by character association but I know him beyond doubt through performances when he was Director General of Bilateral Relation in the then Ministry of Regional Cooperation from 2005 to 2007 and as Ambassador to European Union EU in Brussels, Belgium from 2007 to 2011 as well as Deputy Head of Mission to United Nations.
I have no personal relationship with him neither and it is not a point to rise here, but to caution you because we have reached to unexpected level of misunderstanding that everything is associated with ethnic identity. Finally, I am of the opinion as citizen and appeal to our government to return Dr. Francis Nazario back to his place in New York so that the said misrepresentation is cleared. There is no reason to sacrifice him for no justification when in fact this gentleman had good tracking records when he was here in the ministry of Regional cooperation, the European Union and when he was in the United Nations.
Beny Gideon Mabor, lives in South Sudan and can be reached at email@example.com