South Africa’s Statement for the High-Level Segment delivered at 52nd Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva
52nd Session of the Human Rights Council, South Africa’s Statement for the High-Level Segment delivered by Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini, Geneva, 02 March 2023
At the outset let me express South Africa’s condolences to the Governments and Peoples of Türkiye and Syria following the devastating earthquake that struck them a few weeks ago.
I would also like to express our solidarity and concern for the people caught up in the many wars and conflicts across the globe. We urge the international community to privilege peace and dialogue as wars cannot be ended by continued military engagement and the escalation of a new arms race.
In 1945 when the international community created the United Nations in the aftermath of the Second World War, it reaffirmed its faith in “fundamental human rights, in dignity and worth of a human person, in equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small”.
Three years later, the UN adopted the Universal Declaration on Human Rights to give effect to this reaffirmation for the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Today, South Africa assumes its seat on the Council, for the period 2023 to 2025. We do so in the midst of wars and natural disasters linked to climate change and in the aftermath of COVID-19.
We are of the considered view that a political solution and a negotiated settlement remain key to sustainable peace, development, and the promotion, protection, fulfilment and practical realisation of human rights. These cannot be achieved through war.
The current global challenges require international solidarity and cooperation. Notwithstanding, we find ourselves faced with the rise of nationalisms, including rampant racism and the resurgence of Pre-World War two divisions and armed conflicts.
We believe that the Human Rights Council has a duty to combat the scourge or racism and racial discrimination, including white supremacy. We maintain that the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action remains a comprehensive blueprint to combat racism, racial discrimination and their contemporary manifestations.
South Africa will, in this regard, continue to work with all partners in the Council to combat these scourges. We will also continue to work with all partners to combat all forms of discrimination.
We will continue to work towards greater promotion and protection of the human rights of women, children, persons with disabilities, and the LGBTIQ+ community.
South Africa is concerned about the growing tendency to focus on new conflicts to the detriment of old conflicts. We remain steadfast in our believe that the Human Rights Council must seek to secure the all the human rights of all people without any distinction. To this end, South Africa will continue to support the struggles of the Palestinians as they battle occupation and systemic Apartheid and the people of Western Sahara who are also still living under occupation.
We are concerned about the sustained violence perpetrated on the people of Palestine, which has resulted in 62 Palestinians killed since the beginning of 2023. This violence is accompanied by the de jure annexation of the West Bank which further diminishes the prospects of a two-state solution.
We are also concerned by attempts to instrumentalise the Council to advance national and geopolitical agendas We believe that the Council should remain true to its mandate of promoting and protecting all human rights, including socio-economic rights, in a fair, just, and non-selective manner. The commitment to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of all human rights will in turn promote peace and security and is an important component of sustainable development.
We are concerned by the continuous imbalance that exists within the Human Rights Council between economic, social and cultural rights, on the one hand and civil and political rights on the other hand. These rights are interdependent and indivisible and as outlined in the Declaration on the Right to Development, there is no hierarchy in relation to these rights. We therefore need to focus on all of these rights equally and ensure that we allocate more resources towards fulfilling and realising economic, social and cultural rights.
We will, in this regard, also work with all members of this very important institution to end the false dichotomy between civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights. We want to see a Council whose work is informed by the principles of universality, indivisibility, interdependence, and interrelatedness of all human rights, and which must be given equal attention, as so eloquently expressed in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA); the 30th Anniversary of which we celebrate this year.
We will also work to support implementation and follow-up to the programme of activities of the Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024) and, support the activities and programmes of the newly established Forum on People of African Descent and ensure that its aims, objectives, and mandate are realised. In this context, we will also play a key role in the processes to start negotiations on the Declaration on the rights of People of African Descent.
In conclusion, I wish to thank you and the entire UN family for your strong support for our candidature to be a member of this Council. We look forward to working with you to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves; to promote, protect, and realise the achievement and enjoyment of all human rights by every person on our planet and without distinction of any kind.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and also the 27th anniversary of the South African constitution that mandates our all-encompassing approach to human rights. Let us work to ensure that it does not take another 75 years to end racism, systemic apartheid, occupation and the denial of economic, social and cultural rights that gives rise to, and sustains global poverty and inequality.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
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