Republic of South Africa: Department of International Relations and Cooperation

South Africa hosted a successful second South Africa–Ireland Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) on 22 February 2022. The meeting was co-chaired by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Alvin Botes, and the Minister of State for Overseas Development and Diaspora of Ireland, Mr Colm Brophy. Minister Brophy was accompanied by senior officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

The second meeting of the JCC follows the successful inaugural meeting held in Dublin in 2019.  The JCC was established in 2017 through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding at the sixth South Africa-Ireland Partnership Forum (SAIPF) meeting in Pretoria, South Africa, and represents a deepening of the commitment of both countries to strong bilateral cooperation.

During the meeting, both Ministers underlined the close ties of friendship between the people of South Africa and Ireland as well as the common interests and values that the two countries share.  Taking note of the current Covid-19 pandemic, the Co-Chairs expressed deep concern for the on-going health crisis, its impact on the social and economic development, and the tragic loss of lives. They reiterated their commitment to enhance collective efforts to address the challenges presented by the pandemic and agreed that “’no one is safe until everyone is safe”.

The two parties discussed a range of bilateral and multilateral issues and exchanged views on key developments in Europe and in Africa.  Representatives from relevant government Departments in both countries reported significant progress in bilateral cooperation on political, economic, and social development issues. Both sides also identified several areas in which cooperation can be further strengthened and undertook to build on this work, including through prioritising further high-level visits.

Both parties welcomed the substantial cooperation in the area of tertiary and higher-level education, which has expanded rapidly in recent years.  Through the implementation of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) and the South African Technology Network (SATN), learning exchanges and research relationships have been established which will bring mutual benefit to the technological higher education systems of both countries.  The Embassy of Ireland’s Kader Asmal Fellowship Programme, which has also received support from the Department of Higher Education and Training, continues to contribute to skills development among future leaders in South Africa, and has an increased focus on women and students from historically disadvantaged communities.

The healthy bilateral trade and investment relationship was recognised by both parties, who also identified that there are great opportunities for further economic cooperation between Ireland and South Africa.  Despite the challenging global economic conditions, trade and investment has been consistently maintained.

On Immigration, both parties expressed satisfaction on the significant success achieved in the management of the communication channel established between Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Services (INIS), which has improved the ease and accuracy of decision-making at the ports of entry. Both parties welcomed the continuing visa free regimes for travel between the two countries.  Developments and ongoing cooperation on a range of other sectors including, tourism, arts and culture, and agriculture were also discussed.  The depth and breadth of the Ireland-South Africa relationship was noted with appreciation.

The Co-Chairs exchanged views on International and regional issues including Mozambique, aimbabwe, Palestine, and the situation concerning Western Sahara. Further, they discussed European Union (EU) – African Union (AU) collaboration and reiterated the need for greater cooperation.

Both parties reaffirmed their shared commitment to multilateralism, the international rule of law, and the promotion and protection of human rights, and expressed appreciation for the good cooperation between South Africa and Ireland on the international stage.  The two countries have worked together on a range of important issues including Nuclear Disarmament, the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, and Peace and Security, and recently on the outbreak of COVID-19.

South Africa and Ireland acknowledged the critical importance of the JCC, which serves to expand and deepen the dialogue and cooperation between the two countries.

The parties re-affirmed the bonds of friendship and solidarity between the countries and looked forward to the next meeting of the JCC, to be hosted by Ireland.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

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