South Africa does ‘about-turn’ on UN resolution on human rights defenders

November 30, 2015

In relation to my post of 26 November [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/11/26/unfortunately-the-un-voted-on-the-resolution-on-human-rights-defenders/] there is an interesting development. South-African media, NGOs and human rights defenders (e.g. http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2015/11/27/We-join-the-bullies) criticized heavily the position taken by Government in voting against. Today Barry Bateman reports that the South African government appears to have done an about-turn on its position and will now support the resolution when the matter is referred to the full General Assembly in the next few days.  The Department of International Relations says the Africa group of members’ states had about 39 proposed amendments to the resolution following intense negotiations. The department raised concerns around the definition of a human rights defender, the responsibilities placed on sovereign parliaments and issues of NGO funding.  It says the resolution’s main sponsor introduced oral amendments at the last-minute without informing South Africa.  These amendments rendered the country’s concerns redundant.

India‘s Yes-vote was circumscribed by its statement that “stressed” that it does not feel it necessary to not create “any new obligations at national level”. Counterview  of 28 November takes issue with this citing examples of where human rights defenders in India are still missing protection. [see also: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/blogs/yes-minister-it-human-rights-issue/india-uk-narendra-modi-david-cameron-visit-human-rights]

In the meantime Khoo Ying Hooi writing in a post in the Malaysian Insider of 30 November welcomes the Yes-vote by Malaysia, but shares the skepticism of many local human rights defenders that it is mostly window-dressing way. (“Malaysia has in many instances not walked the talk when it comes to international commitments on human rights affairs. One glaring example is their lack of commitment to the peer-review mechanism, Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in the United Nations Human Rights Council. At this point of time, Malaysia’s adoption of the UN resolution in protecting human rights defenders does not reflect the reality back home. It was obvious that it is, at least for now, nothing more than diplomatic window dressing. While a UN resolution such as this would help in many ways, human rights protection must start at home.“)

Sources: Govt does ‘about-turn’ on its human rights defenders position

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/opinion/khoo-ying-hooi/article/malaysias-vote-on-protecting-human-rights-defenders-diplomatic-window-dress

http://www.counterview.net/2015/11/india-doesnt-need-new-legal-mechanism.html

One Response to “South Africa does ‘about-turn’ on UN resolution on human rights defenders”


  1. […] and how South Africa has turned around [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/south-africa-does-about-turn-on-un-resolution-on-human-righ…]. The date of the vote in the Plenary is not yet confirmed but is likely to be 18 or 21 […]


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