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Parliament, Friday, 01 July 2022 - The leader of the South African Parliamentary delegation to the Non-aAligned Movement's (NAM) conference of Parliamentarians in Buka-Azerbaijan, Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, has urged delegates of over 120 member states to spare no effort in promoting dialogue, mediation and arbitration to prevent and stop wars and conflict in the world.

Addressing the NAM Parliamentary Network's inaugural meeting at the Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku, Azerbaijan, Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula said peaceful solutions to conflicts were part of the founding principles and values of the 61years of NAM.

She praised the NAM for its contribution to fighting apartheid and colonialism and its growth from 25 to 120 Members States over the years. She urged all members to place impartiality at the centre of any intervention to stop conflict such as the one raging between Ukraine and Russia. The Speaker says parliamentary diplomacy is on the rise and must be strengthened to heighten parliaments' capacity to conduct oversight and promote public participation on a global scale. Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula's call is in line with the conference theme: "Building the Role of National Parliaments in Promoting Global Peace and Sustainable Development".

She also implored Members States of the NAM Parliamentary Network to remember and pursue the cause of the people of Palestine as they did in fighting apartheid and colonialism in South Africa. She said the NAM Parliamentary Network has an opportunity to define its goal and mission through, among others, interventions that would free the world of wars and subjugation of some nations such as Palestine and Western Sahara.

She said the fight to ensure universal access to critical vaccines to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, and future outbreaks of pandemics must be sustained for the benefit of the People of the South through fighting vaccine nationalism.

The two-day conference of the NAM Speakers and Presiding Officers held in the capital city of Azerbaijan is expected to endorse its constitution or statute and a declaration on modalities for running this global movement of national Parliament that traditionally took no sides during the historical American and Russian-led cold-war.

Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula emphasised the collaboration and cooperation of Members States of the NAM Parliamentary Network, which has the second most significant number of member states, following the United Nations in the world. She said the enormous advances in technology, medicine and science in the world provide a unique opportunity to build a better life for all and fight poverty, unemployment and inequality, as some of the most pressing challenges facing the world today.

The conference was officially opened by President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan with the Speaker of the Parliament (Milli Majlis) of Azerbaijan, Ms Sahiba Gafarova, welcoming all delegates. The South African delegation led by Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula comprises the Deputy Chief Whip of the African National Congress, Ms Dorries Dlakude and the Member of Parliament for the United Democratic Movement, Mr Nqabayomzi Kwankwa. The conference also observed and celebrated the International Day of Parliamentarianism, sustaining and advancing democracy worldwide.

The Non-Aligned Movement was formed by Heads of State and Government in 1961. The aim was to organise countries not aligned with the superpowers involved in a protracted cold war, to determine their policies and programmes as sovereign states with territorial integrity and peace, and to advance independence and fight colonialism and racism. Egypt and Ghana were part of the NAM founding member states. Since then, all but two African countries have been affiliated, with South Africa and Eritrea being the last countries to be affiliated after freedom in the 1990s. Presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki have served as Chairpersons of the NAM between 1998 and 2003, and the President of Azerbaijan currently holds the Chairpersonship since 2019.

Some leaders of Parliamentary delegations, including Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula, addressed the conference on 30 June 2022; others are scheduled to address the meeting today, 01 July 2022. It is expected to be closed by the Speaker of the Milli Majlis of Azerbaijan, Ms Sahiba Gafarova.

Issued by the Parliament of South Africa 
Enquiries: Moloto Mothapo