SAHRC to become chair of international human rights body
09 November 2012
Attention: Editors and Reporters
The South African Human Rights Commission welcomes the election of its Chairperson, Adv. Lawrence Mushwana, as the next Chair of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC).
This is a historical occasion in that this is the first time that Africa will hold the office of the chairperson of the ICC. This marks a symbolic point in South Africa’s legacy of human rights, having transitioned from Apartheid to a peaceful democracy where human rights are constitutionally promoted and recognized.
The election as Chair of the ICC is a reflection of the appreciation of the work that the SAHRC does to promote and protect human rights at a domestic level and the influence that this has both regionally and internationally.
Presently, from 4 – 7 November 2012, the ICC is holding its 11th International Conference in Amman, Jordan. The theme of the Conference is “Human rights of women and girls: promoting gender equality: the role of national human rights institutions.” On the first day of the Conference, the regional groupings of NHRIs met. It was during this meeting that the NANHRI elected South Africa to take up the Chair of the ICC by a vote of 15–2.
The SAHRC looks forward to leading the ICC in supporting its work to strengthen the cooperation and collaboration between the four regional groups of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs): in the Asia- Pacific, Africa, Europe and the Americas. One of the core functions of the ICC is to oversee the accreditation of NHRIs to the UN to receive ‘A’ status and to promote the role of NHRIs within the United Nations and with States and other international agencies.
In October 2011, Adv. Mushwana was elected Chairperson of the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI), the regional representative body of national human rights institutions in Africa. In his capacity of Chairperson of NANHRI Adv. Mushwana, the Chairperson has represented the position of African NHRIs at international and regional forums including the United Nations and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.
Furthermore, the position of ICC Chairperson is a prestigious international position that will attract attention to South Africa and the region as a whole. There will be increased attention given to the country’s human rights track record and its compliance with international human rights obligations. This may create opportunities not only for the SAHRC but for the country as a whole to showcase its human rights successes, and to share and seek solutions to current challenges. It will also afford the SAHRC the opportunity to play a prominent leadership role at an international level in the area of human rights and thereby strengthen independent national human rights mechanisms across the globe, particularly in developing countries and emerging democracies.
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SA Human Rights Commission
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