South Africa condemns selective double standards on human rights violations

Tue, 27 Feb 2024 6:56 GMT
Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor says all members have duty to ensure that the Human Rights Council is always fit for and relevant to its aims.
South Africa condemns selective double standards on human rights violations

South Africa on Monday called on member states of the UN Human Rights Council to avoid selectivity in condemning human rights abuses across the globe.

“We have noted with interest the language that we sometimes use as we debate on these matters in this house. The current divisions at the Human Rights Council on global breaches are impeding nations from focusing on victims of human rights in all regions of the world,” South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said in her address on Monday afternoon.

She said that when some members speak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, they call it “Russian aggression,” but when they describe the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza, since last Oct. 7, they call it “Israel’s war against Hamas.”

“By implication of our language, all innocent Palestinians are members of Hamas and deserving of being killed,” she said, adding that this is a strange interpretation by some speakers at the UN Human Rights Council.

Pandor urged world leaders to avoid double standards and address human rights directly and firmly without being selective.

“All of us have a duty to ensure that the Human Rights Council is always fit for and relevant to purpose,” she said.

Pandor said there is need to overcome the view that “if you’re not with us, you're against us.”

The top South African diplomat said her country’s constitutional democracy, which will mark its 30th anniversary in April, works as a guide to the country’s foreign policy. She said it took inspiration from the UN’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“Our South African bill of rights recognize the quality, dignity, and worth of every person. We ensured when we wrote the Constitution that our bill of rights would not be of a standard lower than the international legal instruments,” she said.

South Africa has strongly advocated for the Palestinian right to self-determination and late last year took Israel to the International Court of Justice accusing it of genocide in Gaza.

Racism, xenophobia

Also speaking at the council, Nigeria’s Foreign Minister Yusuf Tuggar said his country “strongly condemns all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance.”

Tuggar said Nigeria remains resolute and committed to human rights. He said his country developed a second action plan for the promotion and protection of human rights through 2028.

He said while Nigeria acknowledges the universality of human rights, they reject attempts to introduce ideas that contradict the principals outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Albert Fabrice Puela, human rights minister for Democratic Republic of Congo, told the council that his country has taken significant efforts to observe and implement human rights.

Puela added, however, that their efforts are being affected by the ongoing conflict in the eastern part of the country.


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