Justice Today

Articles

  1. President Ramaphosa addresses the National Conference on 30 years of the State of Human Rights in South Africa
  2. Day 2 of the National Conference on Human Rights kicks off with a bang
  3. Day 3 of the National Conference on Human Rights
  4. The Conference in pictures

President Ramaphosa addresses the National Conference on 30 years of the State of Human Rights in South Africa

As the country celebrates 30 years of democracy, the Department of Justice, and Constitutional Development (DOJ&CD) has convened the National Conference to assess the progress and chart a way forward in advancing human rights since 1994.

The conference took place over a period of three days from 18 – 20 March 2024 at Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Gauteng.

Held under the theme: “Three Decades of Respect for and Promotion of Human Rights”, the conference gathered key stakeholders and government Departments to reflect on 30 Years of South Africa’s transformation agenda and efforts towards promoting democracy, development, and human rights.

“It is an honour to be part of this conference to reflect on 30 years of a government that respects and observes the human rights of all South Africans from all spheres. The adoption of our Constitution with its Bill of Rights by the Constitutional Assembly on the 8th of May 1996 was a great moment in our struggle to achieve a free and equal society.” Said  President Cyril Ramaphosa.

President Ramaphosa further explained that Since 1994 government has prioritised the advancement and fulfilment of the Bill of Rights as the cornerstone of democratic order. “Human rights are the basic rights that all human beings should have and enjoy. Human rights embody the key values of our society such as equality, dignity and fairness, and define our nationhood,” the President said.

The President further highlighted that the Bill of Rights enjoins the democratic state to enact various pieces of legislation to promote human rights between and among people. “Amongst those we have put in place are the Promotion of Access to information Act, which gives effect to Section 32 of the Constitution; the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act which gives effect to section 33; and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, which gives effect to section 9,” he said.

To promote accountability, responsiveness and openness, various institutions to strengthen constitutional democracy were introduced. These include the South African Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Public Protector, the Commission for Gender Equality and others. “We are proud of these institutions supporting democracy. Their establishment ushered in a new era of accountability and respect for dignity,” said President Ramaphosa.

President Ramaphosa addresses the National Conference on 30 years of the State of Human Rights in South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa at the National Conference on Human Rights in South Africa.


Day 2 of the National Conference on Human Rights kicks off with a bang

The second day of the National Conference on the Constitution began with a thought-provoking presentation by Statistician General and Head of Statistics in South Africa, Mr Risenga Maluleke, who discussed Statistical Overview on Socio Economic Rights.

The conference ran from 18-20 March 2024 at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg, bringing together young minds and old, public and private institutions, organisations as well as various delegates from different sectors under one roof to reflect on 30 years of Human Rights in the country.

In his presentation, Mr Maluleke highlighted that in terms of household income, grants remain the main source of income for the average home. “Grants are the primary source of income for almost one quarter, that is 23,5% of households nationally.” Speaking about the observed life span, the Statisticians General specified that boys are born in a majority number as opposed to girls, but unfortunately, he revealed, boys are more likely to lose their lives at a younger age owing to several factors. This leaves the numbers in the population still reflecting more women than men.

University of Limpopo, Professor Hlengani Mathebula, then proceeded to facilitate the day’s opening panel discussion that focused on  transforming and building a resilient economy to address unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment as a human right and Constitutional Imperative.

Minister of Human Settlements, Mmamoloko Kubayi appealed that more women need to participate in the economy. President of COSATU Ms Zingiswa Losi  used the occasion to emphasise the importance of  protecting and promoting the rights of workers. “Workers’ Rights are Human Rights,” she said. She further asserted that workers need to be guaranteed their right to a safe working environment. “Workplace safety also include protection from Gender Based Violence and Harassment which female workers are subjected to every day in the workplace,” she explained.

Mr Zwelinzima Vavi, General Secretary of South Africn Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU), added to the discussion by highlighting the lack of employment in the country. “8,7 million young people are not in employment, education, or training. That is not a good story to tell. Our economy is set out in a way that continues to impoverish the poor even further, “he said.

Mr Zwelimzima Vavi, General Secretary of SAFTU at the National Conference on Human Rights in South Africa, Delegates attending Day 2: National Conference on Human Rights & Statistician General of South Africa, Mr Risenga Maluleke


Day 3 of the National Conference on Human Rights

A robust debate on Human Rights as a pillar of South Africa’s Foreign Policy marked the opening highlight of the final day of the National Conference on Human Rights in South Africa which was held at the Birchwood Hotel in Ekurhuleni. The conference is running from 18-20 March 2024.

Panellists in the discussion included Mr Alvin Botes (Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation), Prof Chris Landsberg (International Relations and South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARCHI) Chair, University of Johannesburg), Dr Maureen Tong (International Human Rights Lawyer), Ambassador Kingsley Makhubela (Director: RisRecon) and Former Ambassador of South Africa to the United Nations in Geneva - Human Rights Council, Ambassador Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko.

“South Africa has been at the forefront in shaping the debate that seeks to advance global human rights," said  University of Johannesburg's Prof Chris Landsberg in his contribution to the discourse. Prof Landberg lauded South Africa’s efforts at mediating in global affairs on issues that threatened human rights.

Ambassador Nozipho Mxakato-Diseko emphasised that more work needs to be done to enhance an understanding of global human rights.

Some of the topics covered included, International Human Rights Law, The Right to Self-Determination Of The People Of Palestine And Western Sahara: Implications Of The ICJ Case: South Africa V Israel, The Role Of The African Human Rights System And Its Impact On Domestic Frameworks For Protection Of And Promotion Of Human Rights In Domestic Jurisdictions.

Prof Chris Landsberg: International Relations and SARCHI Chair, University of Johannesburg, Mr Alvin Botes: Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and Dr Maureen Tong: International Human Rights Lawyer


In Pictures

Day One in Pictures : DOJ&CD hosts the National Conference on Human Rights in South Africa

ICJS National Conference 2024President Cyril Ramaphosa officially opened the National Conference on Human Rights.

ICJS National Conference 2024Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Mr Ronald Lamola welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa at the National Conference on the Constitution.

ICJS National Conference 2024Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Mr Ronald Lamola at the National Conference on Human Rights.

ICJS National Conference 2024Delegates attending the Conference.

 

ICJS National Conference 2024Chairperson of the United Nations Committee of Experts of Public Administration Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi at the National Conference on Human Rights in Birchwood, Gauteng.