The Director General for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Kgabo Mahoai and his EU counterpart, Mr Stavros Lambrinidis, the European Union Special Representative co-chaired the Dialogue/Forum.
The SA-EU SDF was established on 27 May 2014 in Pretoria as a platform for cooperation and dialogue between the parties. Some of its objectives include:
- Promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights, democratic principles, rule of law, accountable governance and accountable electoral processes;
- Pursuit of common approaches in multilateral for a, inn particular around the promotion of the mandate of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to enhance cooperation and constructive dialogues including joint strategies;
- Develop practical trilateral partnerships with third countries aimed at deepening democracy, democratic governance, rule of law, good governance, accountable electoral processes and the practical enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms;
- Work towards presentation of joint initiatives within the UN Human Rights System based on the priorities of the parties
- Joint and constructive contribution to the adequate functioning of the United Nations Human Rights Council as the principal human rights body within the United Nations with the mandate to promote, protect and fulfil human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Some of the key areas on which the Dialogue focused and where progress is being registered relate to:
- The South African domestic implementation of programmes for the empowerment of women and girls including gender equality. The two parties agreed that more needs to be done in terms of gender sensitive budgeting and the significantly increased funding of civil society organisations active in this sector in order to keep the agenda alive and visible,
- The Socio-Economic Programme between the EU and South Africa which focuses on the practical enjoyment of the economic, social and cultural rights in South Africa particularly by the vulnerable groups,
- Joint reflection on the measures to be undertaken at the grassroots level in South Africa to address gender based violence, sexual violence against women and children, child prostitution and harmful practices against women and girls, and
- The joint efforts for the global abolition of the death penalty in a gradual and systematic manner bearing in mind the provisions of international law in this regard. As will be recalled, both parties are abolitionists who have removed the death penalty from their statutes.
- Continued commitment to cooperate with a view to support South Africa’s efforts to accelerate ratification of OPCAT, particularly by facilitating the set-up of an effective National Preventive Mechanism. A study tour of South African stakeholders to EU member States to explore different models will offer the opportunity to deepen engagement on the issue;
- Agreement to explore ways to cooperate in follow-up to the CSW recommendations on promoting the economic, social and cultural rights of rural women in South Africa, in the framework of the upcoming programme in support of gender equality;
- Agreement to organize a joint public diplomacy event on the implementation of the UNSCR 1325 during 2018, with various stakeholders (Pretoria or Geneva);
- Continuous policy coordination with key stakeholders in preparation and implementation of EU gender equality support programme to South Africa.
The parties also reflected on the situation of human rights globally as well as in certain country specific situations. To this end, the parties noted the work in progress and undertook to enhance their efforts in this regard.
Furthermore, the parties exchanged views on the functioning of the Human Rights Council including on the review of its status, which is scheduled for the period 2021 -2026.
As part of the ongoing work, both parties agreed on the indispensable contribution of civil society to democracy and human rights discourse in their respective jurisdictions. In this regard, it was agreed that their work will continue with the South African and EU NGO sector to define a format of participation of civil society in the dialogue process.