International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has on Thursday, 6 March 2014, 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).
South Africa was elected to the HRC by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on 12 November 2013. Algeria, Morocco, Namibia and South Africa are the four newly-elected Africa Group members, complementing Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Congo (Brazzaville), Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, and Sierra Leone.
Minister Nkoana-Mashabane delivered a statement to the Human Rights Council on Tuesday, 4 March 2014. The statement covered contemporary issues facing the international human rights system and the agenda of the Human Rights Council.
South Africa’s return to the Council coincides with the 20-year celebration of the country’s constitutional democracy. Minister Nkoana-Mashabane stated that: “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 visit of Minister Nkoana-Mashabane to Geneva was also the first since the passing away of South Africa’s first democratic President, Mr Nelson Mandela. The Minister paid tribute to Madiba, who dedicated his entire 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.
As a member of the HRC, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane 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,” said the Minister.
During her visit to Geneva, Minister met with Mr Ramtane Lamamra, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Algeria; Prof GL Peiris, Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka; and Ms Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, on the sidelines of the HRC.
SOURCE: South African Official News