UN General Assembly (Pic UN News)
Human rights experts have questioned the South African government’s claim that it did not support other African country’s demand that the UN’s LGBTI watchdog be suspended.
Last week Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) spokesperson Clayson Monyela told Mambaonline that South Africa would not vote in favour of blocking the recently appointed Independent Expert on Protection against Violence and Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
He also insisted that South Africa had not signed any letter or statement by the Africa Group at the UN that called for such a move.
Experts, have however, claimed that Monyela is being disingenuous and that it was not required of South Africa or any African country to actually “sign” the statement to show support for it.
“South Africa did support the tabling of the Africa Group resolution and accompanying statement – it was a consensus position presented on behalf of the Africa Group, which includes South Africa,” Graeme Reid, Director of the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, told Mambaonline.
“In terms of UN procedure a country who disagrees with such a consensus statement would need to opt out if it did not agree. SA has not done so,” he explained,
“DIRCO is correct in that there is no ‘letter’ but there is a clear and unambiguous statement issued on behalf of all African states. Is South Africa saying that it is not part of the Africa Group?” he asked.
“It is typical of the double game South Africa has been playing at the UN,” added Reid.
Local LGBTI groups warned on Wednesday that, “these events appear to indicate that South Africa is steadily moving away from progressive human rights norms”.
Nevertheless, Reid agreed that it was “good news” that South Africa had at least committed itself to not voting for the planned resolution to suspend the Independent Expert.
Reid said, however, that South Africa should also as “a gesture of good faith” cosponsor another resolution led by eight LAC (Latin American and Caribbean region) countries to block the Africa’s Group’s attempt to scupper the appointment of the Independent Expert.
He further urged South Africa to invite the Independent Expert to visit South Africa. “He would have a lot to learn from the South African experience and efforts to combat violence and discrimination,” said Reid.
A vote on the Africa Group resolution is expected to be held in the General Assembly this week.