A celebration of South Africa’s progressive role at the United Nations
An exhibition celebrating South Africa’s progressive role at the United Nations ran from 27-29 September 2011 at the European Parliament (EP) in Strasbourg, France.
The photographic exhibition was hosted by the South African Embassy to Belgium and Luxembourg and Mission to the European Union; and Mr Michael Cashman, Chair of the EP Delegation for Relations with South Africa, with participation from the UN.
The focus of the exhibition, dating back to 1963, was on the journey that democratic South Africa has travelled in the UN, from the days of the liberation struggle to the present engagement, which includes serving as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. The exhibition celebrated the different voices that united in the fight within the UN against Apartheid. These include the South African liberation movements, representatives of civil society and UN Member States.
In addition, the exhibition celebrated the role played by the UN, in particular the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid, in supporting struggle against Apartheid. Amongst others, the Special Committee had engagements with the liberation movements, representatives from civil society, the international Anti-Apartheid Movement and South Africans in exile. Consequently, former President Mandela made his first address to the UN at a special sitting of the Committee on 22 June 1990, following his release in February 1990.
Following his election as the first democratically elected President of South Africa, former President Mandela addressed the UN General Assembly on 3 October 1994, stating that, “We return to the United Nations to make the commitment that as we undertook never to rest until the system of apartheid was defeated, so do we now undertake that we cannot rest while millions of our people suffer the pain and indignity of poverty in all its forms. Democratic South Africa rejoins the world community of nations determined to play its role in helping strengthen the United Nations and to contribute what it can to the furtherance of its purposes”.
Consequently, democratic South Africa has, since 1994, worked for this purpose, informed by its commitment to multilateralism. To this end South Africa acceded to the relevant Covenants and Conventions adopted by the UN, including the “irrevocable commitment to the realisation of the objectives contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, and through active participation in the various UN bodies. In its engagement, South Africa has focused on key issues that include peace and security, the fight against racism and discrimination, poverty alleviation, sustainable development, and strengthening the role of the UN and its cooperation with regional organisations. Visitors to the exhibition emphasised the importance of South Africa’s continued active participation in the UN.
The exhibition was held on the occasion of the 18th SA-European Parliament Inter-Parliamentary Meeting (IPM), which was held on 27-29 September 2011. Through the IPM, the South African Multi-party Delegation engages with the EP Delegation for Relations with South Africa on issues pertaining to the SA-European Union Strategic Partnership, including regional, continental and global issues of mutual interest. The IPM performs an oversight function on the Strategic Partnership and the 19th meeting is scheduled for February 2012.
SA Embassy - Belgium