Minister Nkoana-Mashabane concludes working visit to Switzerland

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Pretoria- International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has concluded her working visit to Geneva, Switzerland, where she participated in the high-level segment of the 25th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC).

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane delivered a statement to the Human Rights Council, which covered contemporary issues facing the international human rights system and the agenda of the council.

As a member of the HRC, the minister stated that South Africa stands ready to work with all countries in the council.

"South Africa believes in multilateralism and the global system of governance, in particular the United Nations. At the heart of this is an effective HRC that has credibility in rising to all challenges and remains true to its mandate,” she said.

South Africa was elected to the HRC by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) last year together with Algeria, Morocco, Namibia and South Africa. They join Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Congo (Brazzaville), Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, and Sierra Leone.

South Africa's return to the council also coincides with the 20-year celebration of the country’s constitutional democracy.

"The 20th anniversary of our freedom finds South Africa on a solid footing regarding human rights and democratic values. On 7 May 2014, we will again go back to the polls with our citizens exercising their democratic right to vote for their fifth administration,” the minister said.

The visit by Nkoana-Mashabane was also the first since the passing away of former President Nelson Mandela.In this light, the minister paid tribute to Madiba, who dedicated life in defence of human rights.

"In honour of our global icon, it is imperative that we continue the unfinished business by taking forward his vision of a world free of racism. The world cannot afford to slide back and the council has a responsibility to ensure that the commitment of the World Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR) are fulfilled," said Minister Nkoana-Mashabane.

During her visit to Geneva, the minister met with her counterparts from Algeria, Sri Lanka, and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. -

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