On 19 January 2016 the Executive Director of ACCORD, Mr Vasu Gounden, attended a meeting with H.E. Nkoane Mashabane, the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, along with the other members of the South African Council on International Relations (SACOIR). The meeting with the Minister was to present an overview of SACOIR’s activities since its establishment.
Mr Gounden was appointed by the Government of South Africa to serve on SACOIR in 2015, which is chaired by the former South African Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and current ACCORD Senior Political Advisor, Mr Aziz Pahad. The Council serves as an avenue for South Africa’s non-State actors to interface with the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) on the development and implementation of South Africa’s foreign policy.
The appointment to serve on SACOIR is for three years and the Council consists of twenty five members drawn from a wide spectrum of South African society including academia; business; civil society; labour and national government departments. SACOIR consists of members who have a proven clear understanding of South Africa’s foreign policy and the manner in which its international relations are conducted. Its objectives are to provide a platform for the generation of public debate on foreign policy; provide a consultative forum for the regular review of South Africa’s foreign policy; and to advise the Minister.
Mr Gounden’s involvement in SACOIR continues his work on SA foreign policy. In 2012 Mr Gounden was invited by the then South African Minister of Foreign Affairs to serve on a Task Team to review the National Development Plan towards 2030 for South Africa. In 1996 Gounden was one of two South Africans nominated by the South African Government to serve on the Commonwealth Secretary General’s Good Offices Forum to mediate in international conflicts. In the same year he was also appointed onto the government established Study Group on Future Challenges to South Africa’s Science and Technology and in 1995 was appointed onto the Board of Trustees of the Foundation for Global Dialogue (now the Institute for Global Dialogue), established to promote South Africa’s international relations. Mr Gounden has also made numerous presentations to the South African Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation on the current political environment on the Continent and has also provided trainings as part of the courses for South Africa’s Foreign Service Cadets and Heads of Mission.