AU Watch

Human Rights Month

South Africa commemorates Human Rights Month in March under the theme: “The Year of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: Promoting and Deeping a Human Rights Culture across society”. The theme is in line with the celebration of the centenary of former President Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela.

The centenary which will be held under the theme “Be the legacy” is an opportunity to honour Madiba’s memory by striving to ensure his vision of human rights and dignity for all South Africans is realised. We remember his selfless role in fighting for equal rights for all South Africans.

Mandela advocated for human rights for all and believed that to deny “people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity”.

This year’s Human Right Month will be used to pay tribute to him and many others who sacrificed in our struggle for freedom to ensure that we may enjoy human rights. We will also reflect on the advances we have made on human rights and restoring the human dignity.

A number of events will take place around the country leading up to Human Rights Day on 21 March. These include observing the Anti-Racism Week from 14 – 21 March which is aimed at creating public awareness about racism, and how it affects individuals and broader society. It concludes on Human Rights Day and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The 21st of March was declared in the new democratic era as Human Rights Day to honour those who fought for our liberation and to celebrate the many rights guaranteed under our Constitution that we continue to enjoy today.

Our Constitution is hailed as one of the most progressive in the world. The Constitution is the ultimate protector of our Human Rights, which were previously denied to the majority of our people under Apartheid. We commemorate Human Rights Day to reinforce our commitment to the Bill of Rights as enshrined in our Constitution.

These rights include:

  • Equality – everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.
  • Human dignity – everyone has inherent dignity and have their dignity respected and protected.
  • Freedom of movement and residence – everyone has a right to freedom of movement and to reside anywhere in the country.
  • Language and culture – everyone has the right to use the language and to participate in the cultural life of their choice.
  • Life – everyone has the right to life.