SA unyielding in support of multilateral global governance

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The South African government has reiterated its commitment to working towards the strengthening and deepening of the multilateral system of global governance and a rules-based international order.

The commitment was re-emphasised by International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Luwellyn Landers at the UN high-level segment of the 40th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. 

“Our abiding faith in the UN and the multilateral system of global governance is unwavering, despite increasing unilateralism and the growth of populist and ultra-nationalist forces in the world. We welcome the timely commitment by the UN Secretary-General to develop an UN-wide Global Plan of Action against hate speech and hate crimes,” Landers said in his address.

The Deputy Minister said South Africa remains committed to the peaceful resolution of the Middle East conflict and realisation of full rights for Palestinian people.

“Their inalienable right to self-determination must not be forgotten and their plight should remain our apex priority. We also remain steadfast in our support for the people of Western Sahara, whose suffering under the yoke of foreign occupation continues. The Saharawi people should attain their right to self-determination in our lifetime.

“The government of South Africa believes that the Human Rights Council is one of the most important and effective institutions of the United Nations. We applaud the council for being responsive to human rights violations.

“As indicated by the President of the General Assembly, Madame Maria Fernanda Espinosa, we too value the link between the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. Our history of struggle against human rights abuses under the apartheid government was strengthened by the work of the General Assembly when other United Nations bodies were less decisive.”

South Africa, Landers said, is also seized with addressing contemporary challenges within the realm of human rights.

“States cannot be the only duty bearers in this regard. Multinational corporations and international organisations are powerful institutions of global governance and must therefore be held accountable under international human rights law wherever they operate.”

Landers used the platform to reiterate South Africa’s stance on issues that affect women, particularly in sport.

“It is in this context that I wish to raise an issue of particular importance to our country.  Women and girls face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination in sport and are subjected to discriminatory laws and practices based on their race and gender.

“This is a matter that affects women in the developing world more acutely, reinforcing the intersectionality between race and gender that pervades these human rights abuses, and that requires the attention of this council.”

With the country heading to the polls on 8 May this year, Landers took the opportunity to thank the council for supporting and fully participating in the one-day commemorative event in April 2018 in honour of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late President Nelson Mandela.

“[He] personified human rights and the struggle for justice and equality for all. We wish to further thank the international community for joining us in marking centenary activities for our late struggle icon, Mama Albertina Sisulu,” he said.

He reiterated the government of South Africa’s support for the work of the council and the Office of the High Commissioner.

“We continue to believe that this council will be judged by the extent to which it makes an impact on the lives of billions of people in the world. South Africa will not be found lacking in its contribution.” –