13 November 2013
South Africa elected to the UN Human Rights Commission
The United Nations (UN) General Assembly has on Wednesday, 12 November 2013, elected South Africa, together with 14 other Member States of the UN, to serve on the UN Human Rights Council (HRC).
The HRC is the UN’s inter-governmental body that deliberates on issues pertaining to the development, promotion, protection, and fulfilment of international human rights law, norms and standards.
South Africa had previously served on the erstwhile Commission for Human Rights, and played an active role in the reform processes of that body, which culminated in the creation of the Human Rights Council in 2006. South Africa is honoured to have served two consecutive terms as a Founding Member of the Council from 2006 to 2010.
As the HRC is a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly, the elections for the new Members of the HRC – to replace the Member States whose term of office had expired – took place during the 51st Meeting of the 68th Session of the General Assembly, in New York. South Africa received an over-whelming 169 votes from a total of 193, reflecting the important role that our country plays in the development and shaping of the international human rights agenda.
South Africa’s term on the Geneva-based HRC begins on 01 January 2014. South Africa’s election to this auspicious body coincides with the country’s celebration of its 20th year of democracy and reaffirms our commitment to the achievement of human rights for all our citizens, the citizens of the continent and the citizens of the world.
Our country is firmly committed to work towards the strengthening of the international human rights system, particularly through the democratic Government’s principled position which affirms the inextricability between economic, social and cultural rights on the one hand, and civil and political rights on the other. To this end, South Africa has pledged to use its position within the Council to advance a rules-based, just and equitable human rights system that is dedicated to the respect for the promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights, and to ensure that the UN human rights system affords maximum protection to victims of human rights violations.
South Africa extends its gratitude to the Member States of the UN for their invaluable support of our candidacy.
Enquiries: Nelson Kgwete, 076 431 3078
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
EVALUATION OF CANDIDATES FOR 2014-2016
MEMBERSHIP ON THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Presented at United Nations Headquarters, New York, November 4, 2013
The report evaluates the 16 countries that have formally submitted candidacies for the November 12, 2013 election of 14 new members to the UN Human Rights Council. To evaluate qualifications we applied the membership criteria established by UNGA Resolution 60/251. In particular, we examined (a) each candidate’s record of domestic human rights protection; and (b) its UN voting record.
According to the report it finds as follows:
• Not Qualified
6 candidates have poor records and fail to qualify:
Algeria, China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam.
6 candidates have problematic human rights and/or UN voting records:
Maldives, Morocco, Namibia, South Africa, South Sudan, Uruguay.
Only 4 out of the 16 candidate countries are qualified to be Council members:
France, Macedonia, Mexico, UK.
South Africa is rated as Free by Freedom House, but has a shockingly poor UN voting record. South Africa abstained and failed to support the important UNGA resolutions on the human rights situation in North Korea (2011), Myanmar (2011), Syria (2012) and Iran (2012). Similarly, South Africa supported the counterproductive resolutions entitled “Human rights and cultural diversity” (GA 2011) and “Promotion of peace” (GA 2012). According to a 2013 report by Human Rights Watch, South Africa has reintroduced bills that compromise the rights of women. One such bill gives “traditional leaders” the authority to enforce controversial versions of customary law such as the practice of ukutwala (forced marriage), adjudicate compliance, and enforce penalties. The system fosters discriminatory social and economic practices, such as access to land, inheritance, and forced marriage. South Africa compromises freedom of speech through its controversial Protection of State Information Bill, which aims to regulate the classification, protection, and dissemination of state information, weighing state interests against the importance of freedom of expression. South Africa protects freedom of assembly. In recent years, however, a growing number of community protests have turned violent and been forcibly dispersed by police, as noted by Freedom House. In September 2012, the government deployed security forces and banned all demonstrations in the Marikana and Rustenberg areas, and some nonviolent protests were forcibly broken up by police. Wildcat strikes in the mining sector during 2012 resulted in at least 50 deaths.
4. Can a Member have its rights and privileges suspended in the Council?
The General Assembly has the right to suspend the rights and privileges of any Council Member that it decides has persistently committed gross and systematic violations of human rights during its term of membership. This process of suspension requires a two-thirds majority vote by the General Assembly.
SUID-AFRIKA OP 12 NOVEMBER 2013 VERKIES TOT DIE MENSEREGTE KOMMISSIE (MRK) VAN DIE VERENIGDE NASIES (VN)
Die Verenigde Nasies (VN) se Menseregte Kommissie het Suid-Afrika weer eens gekies om saam met 14 ander lidlande – te dien. Die MRK is die VN se inter-regeringsorganisasies se liggaam wat kwessies soos die ontwikkeling, bevordering, beskerming, die vervulling van internasionale menseregte, normes en standaarde bespreek en oorweeg.
Suid-Afrika het voorheen op die destydse Kommissie vir Menseregte gedien, ‘n aktiewe bydrae gespeel in die hervormingsprosesse van die liggaam, wat uitgeloop het op die skepping van die Raad vir Menseregte in 2006. Suid-Afrika, as stigterslid (2006-2010), is hiermee vereer om ‘n tweede opeenvolgende termyn daarop te dien.
Suid-Afrika se tweede termyn op die MRK te Geneva het op 1 Januarie 2014 in aanvang geneem, wat saamval met die land se 20 jarige demokrasie, die herbevestiging van verbintenisse tot die bereiking van menseregte vir ALLE burgers, die burgers van die vasteland en die burgers van die wêreld.
Die land is verbind om aan die bevordering van die internasionale menseregtestelsel te werk, veral deur middel van die demokratiese regering se beginselvaste standpunt rakende die ekonomiese, sosiale en kulturele regte aan die een kant en die burgerlike en politieke regte aan die anderkant te bevestig. Vir hierdie doel, het Suid-Afrika hom verbind om sy posisie in die Raad te gebruik om ‘n regverdige en billike menseregtestelsel te bevorder, vir die beskerming van menseregte en om te verseker dat die Verenigde Nasies se stelsel maksimum beskerming bied aan slagoffers van die skending van hul menseregte.