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(By Thiruna Naidoo)

In 1966, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 2142 (XXI), which proclaimed 21 March as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This day commemorates the horrific events that took place in Sharpeville, South Africa in 1960. It is also a national day commemorated annually to remind South Africans about the sacrifices that accompanied the struggle for the attainment of democracy in South Africa. On 21 March 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against the racially discriminating apartheid ‘pass laws’. This was a gross violation of human rights.

(By Satang Nabaneh)

Around the world, 8 March is celebrated as International Women’s Day. It is a global day celebrating the achievements of women with a rallying call to action for accelerating gender parity.

(By Prof Magnus Killander)

Is South Africa regularly denying children their right to access education as well as health care on the grounds either of petty bureaucracy or by a misinterpretation of the country’s laws and international obligations?

(By Prof Frans Viljoen and Dr Ashwanee Budoo)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has been sworn in as the African Union’s chairman until January 2020. A new chair is selected annually from among the members of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government, which is the union’s “supreme organ”.

AL-Sisi’s ascent to this powerful position, even if it’s just for 12 months, should concern anyone who is committed to human rights. The legitimacy of his claim to the Egyptian presidency is tenuous: he came to power in 2013 after staging a coup d’état that overthrew President Mohamed Morsi. That’s in contravention of the AU’s own rules; in fact, Egypt was suspended from the AU after the coup.

(By Prof Magnus Killander)

“Poor and vulnerable people are made into criminals for being poor and vulnerable.” – On World Day of Social Justice, Professor Magnus Killander of UP’s Centre for Human Rights argues that some municipal by-laws are effectively criminalising poverty – and should be rethought.

(By Prof Frans Viljoen)

Angola has decriminalised consensual same-sex acts between adults in private.

An erstwhile Portuguese colony, Angola inherited an ancient colonial statute – dating back to 1886 – that criminalised “indecent acts” and persons habitually engaging in “acts against nature”. These formulations have widely been interpreted as a ban on homosexual conduct.

(By Prof Danny Bradlow)

Kofi Annan (80) was an important historical figure who played a critical role in many key events of the 1990s and 2000s. His death is therefore an opportunity to both celebrate his life and to begin honestly assessing his contributions to the world.

The Ghanaian diplomat’s legacy is complicated. He served as both head of the United Nations peacekeeping and as Secretary General of the UN. His tenure in these high offices – from 1992 to 2006 – were marked by great human tragedies as well as episodes of progress. His role in these events raises difficult questions about individual responsibility and the role of international organisations and their leaders in creating a more peaceful and just world.

(By Yolanda Booyzen)

If breastfeeding did not already exist, someone who invented it today would deserve a dual Nobel Prize in medicine and economics” – Keith Hansen, World Bank (2016).

At the beginning of every August, we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). And every year we are reminded of the elixir-like qualities of breastfeeding and how it can address some of the world’s toughest challenges – infant mortality, malnutrition, food insecurity, poverty, obesity and environmental degradation. The 2018 WBW campaign focuses on how breastfeeding is the “foundation of life” and how there are links between breastfeeding and each of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

(By Dr Ashwanee Budoo)

The African Union has taken several initiatives to demonstrate its commitment to eliminating injustices against women in Africa. The most recent has been a meeting ahead of the African Union (AU) summit scheduled for later this year to highlight the continent’s commitment to gender equality.

Other examples include the African Women’s Decade (2010-2020), adopting the African Union Gender Policy and creating a fund for African women. In addition, the AU declared 2016 the year of human rights with a particular focus on the rights of women.

Fifteen years ago the AU adopted the Maputo Protocol under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to boost the protection of women. Its implementation was meant to be overseen by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, a human rights body set up under the African Charter. And the process was meant to be monitored by the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa.

Despite the protocol’s adoption, the violation of women’s rights is still widespread across the continent. The list is long. But some of the more egregious acts include violence against women, child marriage, gender-based discrimination and exploitative widow rites. The reasons for these range from culture, to tradition, ignorance, lack of education and patriarchy.

The problem is that the protocol’s provisions remain mere words on paper. This is because its potential has been stifled by a weak monitoring and evaluation function.

There is a solution to the problem: the creation of an institution whose sole purpose is to protect women’s rights. But it will require political will and a commitment to make the necessary funds available.

(By Dr Ashwanee Budoo)

Mauritius has been shaken by the news of the death of a 13-year-old pregnant girl who was married. Her death was particularly shocking because the country doesn’t have a high child marriage rate. It’s extremely low compared to countries like Niger where 76% of brides are children or the Central African Republic where the figure is 68%. In fact it’s so low that no recent studies have been done to estimate the number of child marriages in the country.

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(By Thiruna Naidoo)

In 1966, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 2142 (XXI), which proclaimed 21 March as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This day commemorates the horrific events that took place in Sharpeville, South Africa in 1960. It is also a national day commemorated annually to remind South Africans about the sacrifices that accompanied the struggle for the attainment of democracy in South Africa. On 21 March 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against the racially discriminating apartheid ‘pass laws’. This was a gross violation of human rights.

(By Satang Nabaneh)

Around the world, 8 March is celebrated as International Women’s Day. It is a global day celebrating the achievements of women with a rallying call to action for accelerating gender parity.

(By Prof Magnus Killander)

Is South Africa regularly denying children their right to access education as well as health care on the grounds either of petty bureaucracy or by a misinterpretation of the country’s laws and international obligations?

(By Prof Frans Viljoen and Dr Ashwanee Budoo)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has been sworn in as the African Union’s chairman until January 2020. A new chair is selected annually from among the members of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government, which is the union’s “supreme organ”.

AL-Sisi’s ascent to this powerful position, even if it’s just for 12 months, should concern anyone who is committed to human rights. The legitimacy of his claim to the Egyptian presidency is tenuous: he came to power in 2013 after staging a coup d’état that overthrew President Mohamed Morsi. That’s in contravention of the AU’s own rules; in fact, Egypt was suspended from the AU after the coup.

(By Prof Magnus Killander)

“Poor and vulnerable people are made into criminals for being poor and vulnerable.” – On World Day of Social Justice, Professor Magnus Killander of UP’s Centre for Human Rights argues that some municipal by-laws are effectively criminalising poverty – and should be rethought.

(By Prof Frans Viljoen)

Angola has decriminalised consensual same-sex acts between adults in private.

An erstwhile Portuguese colony, Angola inherited an ancient colonial statute – dating back to 1886 – that criminalised “indecent acts” and persons habitually engaging in “acts against nature”. These formulations have widely been interpreted as a ban on homosexual conduct.

(By Prof Danny Bradlow)

Kofi Annan (80) was an important historical figure who played a critical role in many key events of the 1990s and 2000s. His death is therefore an opportunity to both celebrate his life and to begin honestly assessing his contributions to the world.

The Ghanaian diplomat’s legacy is complicated. He served as both head of the United Nations peacekeeping and as Secretary General of the UN. His tenure in these high offices – from 1992 to 2006 – were marked by great human tragedies as well as episodes of progress. His role in these events raises difficult questions about individual responsibility and the role of international organisations and their leaders in creating a more peaceful and just world.

(By Yolanda Booyzen)

If breastfeeding did not already exist, someone who invented it today would deserve a dual Nobel Prize in medicine and economics” – Keith Hansen, World Bank (2016).

At the beginning of every August, we celebrate World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). And every year we are reminded of the elixir-like qualities of breastfeeding and how it can address some of the world’s toughest challenges – infant mortality, malnutrition, food insecurity, poverty, obesity and environmental degradation. The 2018 WBW campaign focuses on how breastfeeding is the “foundation of life” and how there are links between breastfeeding and each of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

(By Dr Ashwanee Budoo)

The African Union has taken several initiatives to demonstrate its commitment to eliminating injustices against women in Africa. The most recent has been a meeting ahead of the African Union (AU) summit scheduled for later this year to highlight the continent’s commitment to gender equality.

Other examples include the African Women’s Decade (2010-2020), adopting the African Union Gender Policy and creating a fund for African women. In addition, the AU declared 2016 the year of human rights with a particular focus on the rights of women.

Fifteen years ago the AU adopted the Maputo Protocol under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to boost the protection of women. Its implementation was meant to be overseen by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, a human rights body set up under the African Charter. And the process was meant to be monitored by the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa.

Despite the protocol’s adoption, the violation of women’s rights is still widespread across the continent. The list is long. But some of the more egregious acts include violence against women, child marriage, gender-based discrimination and exploitative widow rites. The reasons for these range from culture, to tradition, ignorance, lack of education and patriarchy.

The problem is that the protocol’s provisions remain mere words on paper. This is because its potential has been stifled by a weak monitoring and evaluation function.

There is a solution to the problem: the creation of an institution whose sole purpose is to protect women’s rights. But it will require political will and a commitment to make the necessary funds available.

(By Dr Ashwanee Budoo)

Mauritius has been shaken by the news of the death of a 13-year-old pregnant girl who was married. Her death was particularly shocking because the country doesn’t have a high child marriage rate. It’s extremely low compared to countries like Niger where 76% of brides are children or the Central African Republic where the figure is 68%. In fact it’s so low that no recent studies have been done to estimate the number of child marriages in the country.