Report by the South African Government to the United Nations on an annual basis regarding its treatment of minorities on the basis of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities; and to which Government was a signatory
FOR WRITTEN REPLY
QUESTION NO: 404 (NW487E)
PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO: 8-2013 of 15 MARCH 2013
ADV A DE W ALBERTS, (FF-PLUS) TO ASK THE MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION:
1) Whether Government provides a report to the United Nations on an annual basis regarding Government’s treatment of minorities on the basis of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities and to which Government was a signatory; if not, why not; if so,
2) Whether the Government consults with these minorities about the contents of the report annually or otherwise; if not, why not; if so,
3) Whether she intends to provide such reports in future; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
1) No. The 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which entered into force on 27 January 1980, contains rules for treaties concluded between States while the 1986 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties between States and International Organisations or between International Organisations, added rules for treaties with international organisations as parties. Both the 1969 Vienna Convention and the 1986 Vienna Convention provides that in international treaty law an instrument such as a Declaration is a non-legally binding set of principles that Governments and parties only express their intentions, without creating any obligations. Declarations, while being non-legally binding, still make up a part of international customary law. Conversely Treaties are legally binding agreements; each United Nations Treaty has a treaty body to monitor its implementation.
The main functions of treaty bodies are to:
- examine State reports;
- provide concluding observations;
- examine individual communications (views or decisions); and
- issue general comments or recommendations.
Given the above mentioned, The Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities does not have a treaty monitoring body and therefore, unlike a treaty, does not allow or provide for any State reporting, hence no reports have been submitted by Any State , including South Africa.
However it should be noted that the South African Government engages Issues of Minorities at the level of the Forum on Minority issues, held on an annual basis, and the United Nations Human Rights Council through its resolutions. South Africa is in full support of the exercise of the Bill of Rights by all in a non-discriminatory manner, as enshrined in Chapter 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. In all its engagement with the international human rights system, the South African Government advocates for the equality and treatment of all individuals irrespective of their race, ethnic, religious and linguistic backgrounds.
2) Kindly refer to question 1
3) Kindly refer to question 1