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“Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them”

Women’s Month in South Africa is celebrated in August. It commemorates the significant role held by women in South African society and celebrates the accomplishments of the 20,000 women who marched to the Union Buildings in August of 1956. The march…
A memorial sign surrounded with ribbons and flowers
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Sentencing of Former President Sends Clear Message That No One Is Above the Law

Just before midnight last night, South Africa’s former president, Jacob Zuma, reported to a prison facility in his home province KwaZulu Natal to comply with an incarceration order handed down by the Constitutional Court on June 29. The court had…
Former South Africa President, Jacob Zuma sits in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, on November 30, 2018, charged with fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering. 
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Civil Society Participation Key to Success at UN Climate Talks

At this month’s virtual climate negotiations several United Nations officials and governments highlighted the importance of civil society participation in climate action. Yet at the summit’s plenary session, time ran out before civil society…
Residents and environmental activists on Lamu island, Kenya, protest the proposed Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia (LAPSSET) project on March 1, 2012.  © 2012 Reuters/Joseph Okanga
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Environmental Groups Hope Case Will Force Government Action on Emissions

When you approach the town of Secunda in the coal-rich province of Mpumalanga in eastern South Africa, the toxic smell of air emanating from the cluster of coal-fired power stations hits you long-before before you see the town. I spent last week in…
Fence line communities near Duvha Power Station, Mpumalanga, South Africa. 
News

President Weah Should Commit to Real Progress, Back War Crimes Court

Liberia’s justice minister, Frank Musa, gave a misleading statement at the United Nations Human Rights Council on March 17 regarding the government’s purported efforts to ensure much-needed justice for widespread atrocity crimes committed during the…
The 36th Session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
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Institutional Violence by Security Forces Recalls Apartheid Abuses

Police brutality has been a part of the South African experience since colonialism. Infamous incidents, such as the shootings which resulted in the death of school children during the Soweto Uprising of 1976 and the brutal police assaults that led to…
Protesters run for cover as they clash with police at Eldorado Park police station in Johannesburg, South Africa, August 27, 2020. 
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Inclusive, Non-Discriminatory Approach Needed to Curb Pandemic

As South Africa received its first shipment of Covid-19 vaccines this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa stated that his government aims “to make the vaccine available to all adults living in South Africa, regardless of their citizenship or residence…
Volunteers wait to be checked at a vaccine trial facility set at Soweto's Chris Sani Baragwanath Hospital outside Johannesburg, South Africa, November 30, 2020. 
News

UN General Assembly an Opportunity to Advance War Crimes Court

One year ago, Liberian President George Weah gave hope to victims of brutal crimes committed during the country’s civil wars when he spoke at the United Nations General Assembly about pursuing a war crimes court for Liberia. He said consultations…
Liberia's President George Manneh Weah addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, September 25, 2019.
News

Human Rights Abuses Under ZANU-PF Have Soared During Country’s Crisis

A high-level delegation from South Africa has been dispatched to Zimbabwe to try to find a solution to the country’s escalating economic and political crisis. The team, led by the head of South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) party…
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses the media at State House in Harare, Zimbabwe, March, 17, 2020.
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Swiss Court Upholds Regulations Biased Against Women Athletes

The Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland has ruled that sport regulations that violate women’s rights cannot be struck down as inconsistent with Swiss public policy, dealing a blow to the rights of all women athletes. The court came to this conclusion…
South Africa's Caster Semenya competes in the women's 800-meter race during the Prefontaine Classic, an IAAF Diamond League athletics meeting, in Stanford, California, June 30, 2019.
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Homelessness Increases Risk for Covid-19 Spread

South Africa has been hit hard by the pandemic, with the fifth-highest number of cases – 625,059 as of 30 August – in the world. Yet despite a federal ban on evictions, the country’s local governments are evicting people from homes built on public…
A South Africa soldier guards the entrance of a housing development while flats are being emptied in Johannesburg, South Africa, Wednesday Aug. 12, 2020.
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Encouraging Signs They Are Set to Take More Leading Role

The Nordic countries proudly express steadfast commitment to human rights as a priority in foreign policy, but have been disappointingly inconsistent in practice. Sweden launched a feminist foreign policy in 2014 – a laudable approach that failed…
An Icelandic flag hangs outside a shop in Reykjavik, October 27, 2016.
News

Remembering the Soweto Uprising Amid New Calls for Reform

Hector Pieterson was a 12-year old schoolboy in Soweto on June 16, 1976. That morning he joined several thousand other youths in a march denouncing apartheid education policies. By the afternoon, the image of Hector’s lifeless body, cradled in the…
FILE: A South African youth holds a placard during the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the uprisings in Soweto, South Africa, Friday, June 16, 2006.
News

On Human Rights Day, End Abuses Against Asylum Seekers

Today the world marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and South Africa commemorates Human Rights Day, in remembrance of the 1960 Sharpeville massacre, when apartheid police killed 69 people protesting…
A woman waves a South African flag as she attends Freedom Day celebrations in Kwa-Thema Township, near Johannesburg
News

Hundreds of Thousands Still not Getting Equal Education

When two young South African learners ran into the road to pick up a fallen election poster featuring the country’s president Cyril Ramaphosa, their action did not go unnoticed. A video about the “rescue mission,” posted on social media…
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Crucial Step in South Africa’s Path to Justice and Equality

Today, South Africa launched its National Action Plan to combat xenophobia, racism, and discrimination, marking an important step towards addressing the widespread human rights abuses arising from xenophobic and gender-based violence and…
A South African flag waves above Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape
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Landmark Rulings Protect Women and Communities Affected by Mining Companies

South Africa’s highest court has delivered two landmark decisions protecting women’s rights to equality and land ownership, as well as the rights of communities living in mining areas. The latest ruling ensured that an older…
Xolobeni community members and environmental activists march and chant slogans in front of South Africa's Pretoria High Court, April 24, 2018.
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Constitution Debate Aims to Secure Equitable and Just Expropriation Laws

President Donald Trump is again spreading misinformation, this time in a tweet that echoes white supremacist propaganda about South Africa’s much-needed land reform agenda. South Africa’s national discussion on land reform has been open and…
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Government Pledges Statement on Accountability, but More is Needed

Liberia inched closer to justice for war crimes this week. During an appearance before the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva on Monday, the Liberian delegation pledged – for the first time – to issue a public statement on…
Supporters of George Weah attend a meeting during their party's presidential campaign rally at Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Monrovia, Liberia December 23, 201
News

Justice Ministry Should Consult With Sex Workers

Sex work, illegal in South Africa, has been a political hot potato here for decades. South Africa’s Law Review Commission late last year recommended that sex work remain fully criminalized, i.e. a criminal offense to both sell and…
Sex workers wearing masks lead a march to mark International Sex Workers Rights Day in Johannesburg March 3, 2011