Media Statement

30 November 2015

South Africa’s position on United Nations Resolution pertaining to Human Rights Defenders

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation has noted the adoption by the Third Committee of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on 25 November 2015, of a Resolution on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.

The vote took place during the last day of the Committee work that spanned two months. During that session, a myriad of Resolutions were voted on and South Africa participated in all of them.

This specific Resolution just like the others, was a subject of intense negotiations until the 11th hour. The Africa Group had about 39 proposed amendments that were going to be proposed from the floor on the day of adoption. After last minute efforts and attempts to adjust the Resolution to align it with South Africa’s concerns, the main sponsor introduced oral amendments without notifying South Africa and the amendments rendered most of our concerns redundant.

The twist of events and sudden introduction of oral amendments from the floor did not afford our delegates at the United Nations Headquarters in New York an opportunity to engage in a process of consultation with the Department.

Nevertheless, the Resolution still has to go to the General Assembly for final adoption in December. The vote in the Third committee is to a certain extent part of the process of balancing and fine tuning of the Resolution. That is why the main sponsor could introduce amendments as they did.

The Resolution will be presented to the General Assembly in the next few days and South Africa in general supports the main thrust of the Resolution. We remain committed to the Protection of Human rights Defenders all over the World. Accordingly, South Africa will vote yes.

Enquiries: Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for DIRCO, 082 884 5976

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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