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Sunday 20 January 2019
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Namibia says US funding cuts will be ‘regrettable’

The Namibian government says it is regrettable that the United States of America is flirting with the idea to cut funding to countries in the United Nations that are most likely to vote against the US.

The threat to cut funding came after Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, warned in December that her government would be “taking names” of the countries who did not vote with America on the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The Special Advisor to the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Tuliameni Kalomoh said if ever such a move is carried out, it will be regrettable.  “Countries should take decisions on how to vote based on their national interests and policies.

The foreign policy stance of a nation cannot be bought. It is regrettable that they(USA) are linking the development assistance they provide, to the foreign policy framework of other countries,” said Kalomoh during an interview with The Patriot.

Kalomoh said the sovereign equality and independence of states should be respected at all times, irrespective of size.

“I know we did not always vote with them(USA), there were of course times we did, but it is our believe as a country that disagreements between friends should respected and they should not be used as a reason to punish others for exercising their sovereign rights,” he said.

SA in trouble

Namibia’s biggest trading partner, South Africa, is one of the countries that will be affected adversely if the US government eventually decides to cut funding.

The US, through its USAID programme, provides funding for South African health services (related to diseases such as HIV/Aids and tuberculosis), basic education, and assistance for small and medium enterprises. In 2016, USAID’s total foreign assistance to South Africa amounted to US$459.7-million.

At the time, the US had lost a vote inside the UN to declare Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and had been widely condemned for taking the position against international consensus.

The US has now compiled its UN Voting Practices Report for 2017 and determined exactly which UN member states are likely to vote in its favour or against it.

South Africa, it found, is among the 10 countries in the UN who are least likely to vote with the US, and may therefore, Haley argued, be among the countries who are not deserving of American funding.

Namibia on the edge

Going forward Namibia could also find itself between a rock and a hard place. Last year The Patriot reported how Namibia and China’s relationship goes far beyond business transactions and technical assistance, after it emerged that Namibia’s voting patterns during United Nations General Assembly voting sessions are allegedly heavily aligned to China and the eastern world in general.

Since assuming its place in the UNGA system in April 1990, Namibia surprisingly finds itself being accused of systematically abstaining on country resolutions during UNGA voting sessions and at the same time allegedly frequently voting with the Non-Aligned Movement(NAM), African Group (with South Africa leading that bloc), and China with an increase in alignment with Russia over the last decade.

This is according to a research paper titled “Namibia’s Voting Patterns in the U.N. System” authored by Tina Zappile, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Political Science Stockton University in the United States of America. Namibia’s voting in the Third Committee follows a similar trend to that in the Human Rights Council. Between 2005 and 2016 Namibia is said to have largely abstained on country-specific resolutions on Crimea, Syria, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Belarus, USA and Canada.

It also states that 90% of the time Namibia and China’s votes are similar while there has allegedly been a steady negative trend with Namibia’s percent agreement with the US.

“The U.S, in fact, is farthest away from Namibia’s voting patterns along with Israel while several of its allies, namely the U.K., Germany and Japan, vote more similarly with Namibia,” the paper claims.

It seems Namibia’s formal votes in the U.N. have generated interest in the U.S. “We analyzed multiple dyadic vote indices for Namibia and select countries in the UN General Assembly (1990-2014) and individual votes in the Human Rights Council (2014-2016), the Third Committee of the GA (2004-2016), and Security Council (1999-2000) to identify voting patterns and assess whether Namibia adheres to its stated ‘neutral’ policy of abstaining on country-specific resolutions,” reads a part of the research paper. She pointed out that data demonstrate that in the UNGA, Namibia has voted further away from U.S. interests while maintaining its alliances in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)and African Group.




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