The National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) celebrates the International Human Rights Day which coincides with the 20th anniversary of the day that the late former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, signed the 1996 Constitution into law.
International Human Rights Day marks the culmination of the International Campaign around 16 Days of Activism against violence against women and children. We remember all those who suffered and continue to suffer any form of violation of their Fundamental Human Rights and honour those who have laboured to ensure that those rights are protected.
On this day in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration came about after the world witnessed gross human rights violations during World War II. It sets out the basic fundamental rights of all human beings which ought to be universally protected.
The Declaration is the first international agreement of basic human rights and has led to many other progressive international and regional conventions. It has inspired the domestic laws of many countries. It is in this document that all member states reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women. Member states further pledged to achieve the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights as set out in the Declaration.
The Constitution of South Africa, like the Declaration, was birthed as a result of witnessing gross violation of basic fundamental rights. Our Constitution houses a Bill of Rights which states the basic fundamental rights of all. We pride ourselves in our Constitution. It is one of the most progressive Constitutions in the world. Our Bill of Rights stands exemplary of proper recognition of Human Rights.
Despite the Declaration and our Constitution it would be premature to say we have arrived. The truth of the matter is that we still have long way to go in making Fundamental Human Rights a reality for all. Fundamental Human Rights are still being violated in South Africa and the rest of the world. The continued violence against women and children and racism in our societies are glaring examples. One has come to realise that no legislation, no matter how progressive, can on its own eliminate abuse of human rights. What is needed is a paradigm shift of the minds of people.
NADEL calls upon all South African to use this day to reflect on their role in fighting Human Rights abuse and in building a Society that is based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights as envisioned in our Constitution. We wish all South Africans a happy International Human Rights day.
ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF DEMOCRATIC LAWYERS (NADEL), SOUTH AFRICA.
By: Memory Sosibo
Publicity Secretary, NADEL Executive Committee,
Contact: 081 710 7910