Sanity prevails: SA reverses course on human rights at UN

The UN General Assembly

The UN General Assembly

South Africa has changed its mind after shamefully voting against last week’s UN resolution in support of human rights activists.

The country came under fire from human rights groups after it joined 13 other mostly anti-gay and repressive countries in rejecting sending the resolution to the UN General Assembly.

Now, it appears that South Africa will in fact support the resolution when it comes up for approval in the General Assembly for a final vote in the coming days.

In a statement, Department of International Relations and Cooperation Spokesperson Clayson Monyela claimed that its original “no” vote was due to oral amendments being introduced at the last minute.

He said that this “did not afford our delegates at the UN Headquarters in New York an opportunity to engage in a process of consultation with the Department.”

Monyela went on to explain that, “the Resolution will be presented to the General Assembly in the next few days and South Africa in general supports the main thrust of the Resolution.

“We remain committed to the Protection of Human rights Defenders all over the World. Accordingly, South Africa will vote yes,” Monyela added.

The latest statement is quite different from the department’s earlier and defiant defence of its vote last week. Monyela told the media then that South Africa had concerns about the foreign funding of NGOs that may seek to interfere in the sovereignty of countries.

The resolution condemns violence against and intimidation of human rights defenders as well as calling upon all states to refrain from any act of intimidation or reprisal against them.

Embarrassingly, South Africa banded with the likes of Burundi, Burma, China, Iran, Kenya, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Zimbabwe, in its initial rejection of the resolution.

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