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100 Years of Guayasamín

23 August 2019

This year Ecuador celebrates the centenary of the birth of Oswaldo Guayasamín, the country’s most renowned artist.

Photo: Oswaldo Guayasamin - a self portrait (credit: Christian Mera Rivadeneira)

In a conversation with The Diplomatic Society, Ms Maria Soledad Cordova, Ambassador of Ecuador in South Africa said that Guayasamin was inspired by leaders like Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela. His work showcases the racism, classism and inequality in South America, very much like what was experienced in South Africa.

Oswaldo Guayasamín was born in Quito, Ecuador on July 6, 1919. His father was an indigenous Quechua man who worked as a tractor driver and his mother was of mestizo (mixed) origins. His mother, who was the subject of many of his artworks, died when he was very young.


Aid to Africa: Don’t be a Cheap Date

by Greg Mills and Emily van der Merwe

23 August 2019

Vietnam established some ground rules in the aid process; that ‘borrowing was not for consumption, but for investment’, and of the importance of ensuring a diversity of donors, thus reducing vulnerability.

Africa receives US$60 billion in official development assistance each year. To this amount should be added another $25 billion or so (the figures are opaque) of Chinese aid and US$7 billion in other, fresh sources (such as Turkey and Iran). Despite a fad to bash aid as the explanation for Africa’s problems, Asian countries received comparatively large amounts of assistance, and have used it well. However, this does not mean that the development-through-aid model works for Africa. It might be wise to rethink, writes Greg Mills and Emily van der Merwe.

At one point, the World Bank had their largest representative office outside of Washington in Hanoi. Vietnam was the posterchild of development through foreign aid, receiving on average over five billion dollars a year for 20 years.  Compared to Africa, where aid has a track record that is dismal at best, with donors pushing various agendas that are not always in the interest of the recipients, Vietnam largely succeeded in using aid to their advantage.

Experts at foreign policy since they fought their ‘people’s war’ against America, Vietnam was able to play donors against its own needs.
With China upping its flows to Africa, aid to the continent reaches now $100 billion annually. Rather than favouring one side over another, China over America for example, Africa would do well to take a leaf out of Asia’s book and keep its options open, not leaping into bed with one donor or another, rather developing its own clear agenda into which donors should engage, not the other way around.
There is a long history of how not to do it, in Asia as Africa.


First responders and disaster management professionals practice skills to save lives

20 August 2019

Pretoria (ICRC) – Sixty first responders and disaster management professionals participated in a three-hour emergency simulation at Wonderboom National Airport in Pretoria to prepare for large-scale emergencies like Cyclone Idai.

Photo: The emergency simulation of a plane crash which allowed participants to observe best practice in the management of a disaster scene. (Khatija Nxedlana)

“Today`s simulation shows the importance of well–coordinated regional and continental partnerships to saving lives and minimizing casualties during natural and human-made disasters,” says ICRC forensic specialist Neil Morris. “We are committed to supporting the public authorities’ efforts to build resilient systems that can address these complex challenges through the exchange of international best practice.”


Siberia Baikal Irkutsk
At the Center of Everything

19 August 2019

At the beginning of August, in the very center of the Eurasian continent, in Siberia near Lake Baikal in Irkutsk, rASiA Baikal 2019, a marathon of business events was held.

Photo: Ralph Simon, Chief Executive and Alexander Shulgin, Visionary, investor, composer

There were no major international forums and conferences in this place before, the nearest events were held one thousand kilometers to the west and four thousand kilometers to the east in Vladivostok. The initiator of the project, a recognized visionary, international investor and composer Alexander Shulgin understood that he was taking a risk: "I considered this idea as a startup. The first season went by and we created a working model for multifunctional collaboration between local entrepreneurs and innovators, but also cooperation between colleagues from all five continents and from BRICS countries. A successful investor who has invested in more than a hundred companies, including world-famous brands, was right this time. The events were a great success. More than a thousand participants, more than a hundred foreign experts and leaders from 44 countries, more than 50 speakers from 23 countries came to Irkutsk to start a new era in Siberia.


Hungarian Universities Scholarships

19 August 2019

The Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship Programme which is available for students from 70 countries worldwide is the Hungarian Government’s contribution to academic excellence said Mr Andras Kiraly, Ambassador of Hungary to South Africa.

He was speaking at reception, held at the Embassy of Hungary in Pretoria, for a group of 52 South African students who were awarded the prestigious scholarship.

Photo: (l-r) Thabile Diphofa, Mr Andras Kiraly, Ambassador of Hungary, Siphesihle Nene, Mabore Thema and Lehlohonolo Diale

The programme is in its third year and is gaining in popularity as students returning to South Africa share their experiences of this country in Central Europe that is steeped in history. “Focus on your studies and ask for assistance, especially the newcomers to our beautiful, diverse and culturally rich country,” encouraged Ambassador Kiraly.


Linking Korea’s Development to Africa

15 August 2019

Korea‘s (ROK) investment on the African continent is just 2% of its global total, said Deputy Speaker of the Korean National Assembly, Mr Lee Ju Young.  He was speaking to The Diplomatic Society while leading a delegation of senior Korean parliamentarians and experienced politicians, to engage in comprehensive discussions with South African business and government, to identify opportunities for trade, tourism and investment to overcome challenges to fast track and increase existing current cooperation and interactions.

Photo: Mr Kirtan Bhana, founding editor of The Diplomatic Society interviewing Mr Lee Ju YoungDeputy Speaker of the Korean National Assembly


Walking in the Footsteps of Giants - ASEAN

8 August 2019

As current Chair of the ASEAN Pretoria Committee, Mr Thai-Keong Chua, High Commissioner of Singapore hosted a luncheon in celebration of the 52nd Anniversary of ASEAN. Gracing the occasion was Mr Alvin Botes, Deputy Minister of SA International Relations and Cooperation who said he was "a bit boastful" in sharing with the ASEAN members the recent signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. He, however said that Africa is walking in the footsteps of giants, as ASEAN has been a free trade block since 1992.

Photo: Mr Dzulazhar Musa, Deputy High Commissioner of Malaysia, Mr Salman Al Farisi, Ambassador of Indonesia, Mr Joseph Gerard B. Angeles, Ambassador of Philippines, Mr Alvin Botes, Deputy Minister of SA International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Thai-Keong Chua, High Commissioner of Singapore, Mr U Myint Swe, Ambassador of Myanmar, Mr Vu Van Dzung, Ambassador of Vietnam and Mr Komate Kamalanavin, Ambassador of Thailand

Mr Thai-Keong Chua, High Commissioner of Singapore addressing guests said that the members of ASEAN are a diverse group of countries and are richer because of their differences.  “The ASEAN model is based first and foremost on mutual respect and self-respect.  We reject any one race, religion, ideology or state that claims a superior knowledge of human or divine truth or absolute right.  Diversity and differences do not have to be surrendered as precondition for closer political, economic and social integration.”


Connecting Africa from Cairo to Cape Town

29 July 2019

The Embassy of Egypt in Pretoria celebrated the 67th anniversary of the revolution of July 23, 1952. At a celebratory reception, Mr Sherif Issa, Ambassador of Egypt to South Africa, addressing guests said that the dream of the road linking Cairo, Egypt’s capital in the north to Cape Town, Africa’s south most metropolis, was reaching near completion. This among others is a clear indication of a new united, integrated and interdependent Africa.

Photo: Mr Sherif Issa, Ambassador of Egypt and his spouse Ms. Dina Zeidan with young pilots and members of U-Dream’s Cape to Cairo Program.

As current chair of the African Union, Egypt is committed to achieve the objectives as defined by Agenda 2063 and will hand over chairship to South Africa next year to preside over the Union.


United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

By Marla Mossman - UN Correspondent

10 August 2019

The 18th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII)

The traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples took center stage at the United Nations Headquarters in New York for this annual forum. For 10 days from April 22-May 5 representatives of Indigenous Peoples, gathered to attend conferences and informal interactive panels at the 18th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII).

Photo: Marla Mossman at the Storytelling with Visionaries Panel at the UN The Media Zone


First Meeting of the IORA Maritime Safety and Security Working Group

09 August 2019

The First Meeting of the IORA Maritime Safety and Security Working Group was held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka as the current Coordinating Country for Maritime Safety and Security (MSS) in IORA on 8 – 9 August 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The IORA Maritime Safety and Security Working Group (WGMSS) was established last year at an Initial Workshop held for this purpose on 4 – 5 September 2018, in Sri Lanka.

The Meeting was preceded by a stimulating panel discussion on ‘’Emerging scenarios related to safety and security in the Indian Ocean” that saw the active participation of MSS experts.



by Marla Mossman, UN Correspondent

Theme: Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality

The world’s people are demanding “transformative change that is fair and sustainable,
 ….” to “kickstart a decade of delivery and action for people and planet.”

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres call to action was the main point in his address to ministers attending the seventh sessions of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). Under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The event gathered some 2,000 representatives from UN member states, civil society, and the private sector at 33 UN-level meetings and over 150 side events. The eight-day Forum, saw ministers from 47 countries presented Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on their SDG progress so far, bringing the total number of countries that have submitted in-depth reviews to 142 over the past four years, since the SDGs were launched in 2015.

During the two weeks from 9 July, to Monday, 15 July 2019, these High Level meetings were the main UN platform monitoring each States’ actions towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

At the opening session Guterres observed that the HLPF was “zeroing-in” on the urgent need for more SDG action “to support empowerment, equality and inclusion” to “ratchet up the ambition and highlight the imperative of inclusion”.


Sound SA Russia relations as Petrakov bids farewell

25 July 2019

In 2012 Mikhail Ivanovich Petrakov was posted as Ambassador to South Africa and Lesotho. He returns to Moscow having served 7 years in the South of Africa. His illustrious career as a Russian Diplomat began in 1981 in New Delhi, India 38 years ago. He brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to his Ambassadorship having been posted to several key positions in the Russian Foreign Service. Among these include the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia and a multilateral diplomatic position with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) which was created after the collapse and dissolution of the former USSR, a challenging time of transition which brought about the formation of 11 new sovereign nations.

In post 1994 South Africa, Ambassador Petrakov found a nation which had to reconcile the support for the common communist ideology of the liberation movements and the ‘rooi gevaar’ (communist threat) policy of the apartheid regime while the Russian nation was in the throes of its own transition.  The growing interactions of the BRICS countries have played a significant, consolidating role in relations between the two countries in the advent of multilateralism which has disrupted a system of policies established at the end of the Second World War.


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