South Africa and its leaders cannot rest until all citizens are able enjoy their human rights, President Cyril Ramaphosa told delegates and activists at the celebration of 70 th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Friday.
"Human rights are universal, they are not relative. Our task is not over for as long some enjoy them and others don't," he said.
The president shared these sentiments at Constitutional Hill in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, which formerly housed the Old Fort prison where South African leader and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela was incarcerated. It is now the seat of the Constitutional Court.
"We commemorate in a venue that seats the highest court in our land that protects human rights.
"It is no coincidence that our Constitution was signed into law by Nelson Mandela on the same day the declaration was adopted 48 years earlier," Ramaphosa said.
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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the UN on December 10, 1948, at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France.
The UN hails it as a "milestone document in the history of human rights drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world".
Considering South Africa's dark history of injustices, Ramaphosa said, the nation was privileged to join the global world in commemorating human rights.
"South Africa looks forward to playing its part in entrenching human rights not only here but in the rest of the continent and the world," he added.
The president also spoke about the growing debate on land ownership in the country.
"The burning issue of access and ownership of land has brought the reality that we still need to extend property rights enshrined in our Constitution to all South Africans.
"A lot of our people paid a harsh price for this to be realised, we owe it to our struggle veterans to keep the faith in human rights alive," he added.
Ramaphosa, who played a role in drafting South Africa's Constitution, has called on all nations to join hands in ensuring that all people can enjoy the freedom that "we so dearly cherish".
"Today we celebrate a great moment in humankind. This should be about celebrating the future work that we are all going to do to protect and advance human rights of all humankind," he said.