26 February 2013

South Africa 'Committed to Human Rights'

Photo: GCIS
South Africans campaigning against sexual violence.

South Africa is committed to the eradication of gender-based violence and the protection of all human rights, International Relations Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim told a high-level meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday.

Ebrahim said South Africa saw human rights "as inherent to all human beings" irrespective of race, gender, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, belief, culture and language.

"For South Africa, justiciable economic, social and cultural rights are inextricably linked with civil and political rights," Ebrahim added, noting that the country's commitment to fighting discrimination "arises out of our own experiences and is embedded in our Constitution, which includes vulnerable group".

The South African government was "firmly committed to the eradication of gender-based violence and the protection of the rights of the gay and lesbian community".

The government had just accredited UN Women's Regional Representative in Pretoria, and had also set up a national task team, comprising government and civil society representatives, to respond to the challenges faced by gays and lesbians in the country, Ebrahim told the council.

He said that for South Africa, "justiciable economic, social and cultural rights are inextricably linked with civil and political rights," noting that the government had prioritised the creation of decent jobs, access to education and health care facilities, rural development and food security.

South Africa also placed high priority on the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on eradicating poverty, combating diseases, reducing child mortality and achieving universal primary education, and had integrated these in all its development plans.

According to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, South Africa plays a leadership role in several inter-governmental processes at the UN relating to human rights and social development issues.

South Africa is the current chair of the Open-ended Working Group on Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs), which aims to develop a legally binding regulatory framework to ensure that PMSCs are held accountable for their activities.

South Africa also currently chairs an ad-hoc committee working on elaborating complementary standards to the International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, with the aim of combating contemporary forms of racism.

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