U.N. Denounces Racial Segregation Laws In South Africa - 11/6/1962

US History |

Today in 1962, the General Assembly of the United Nations approves a resolution condemning apartheid policies in South Africa, while calling on all its members to cut all relations (both financial and military assistance) with the country.

The word "apartheid" originates from the word "apart" in the Afrikaans language. Apartheid is a Government Issue racial and segregation law of black majorities in South Africa both politically and economically. Among numerous shameful acts, blacks were compelled to live in isolated regions and were not allowed to enter neighborhoods that are whites dominated except they are given a special pass. Despite the fact that whites amount to just a little portion of the populace, they held by far most of the nation's property and riches.

The acclaimed international movement to end apartheid gained wide support in the 1960, when 69 unarmed blacks were killed, and more than 180 wounded during a demonstration at Sharpeville near Johannesburg, South Africa. Because of the incident, a couple of Western forces and other South Africa's trading partners supported a full monetary or military ban against the nation. As a result, there grew strong opposition against apartheid even within the United Nations and eventually in 1973, the United Nations resolution tag apartheid as an unspeakable atrocity against humanity, which led to the suspension of South Africa in 1974 by the General Assembly.

Following quite a while number of strikes, bans and ever-increasing riots on the streets, in 1990, several politically sanctioned racial segregation laws were revoked. A year later, the South African government under President F.W. de Klerk, canceled all remaining apartheid laws and focused on writing another constitution. The action eventually pave way for a multi-racial, multi-party transitional government, which was endorsed in 1993, and the following year, South Africa held its first completely free and fair election. Finally, Nelson Mandela a political activist who fought the apartheid government and had been convicted for treason and held captive in a prison for 27 years alongside other anti-apartheid pioneers was elected the new President of South Africa.

Three years after the election, the new government set up the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which started an investigation concerning the savagery and inhuman acts that occurred during the apartheid period between 1960 and May 10, 1994 (the day Mandela became the president). The commission's goal was not to rebuff individuals but rather to mend South Africa by managing its past in an open way. Individuals who carried out violent acts were permitted to admit it and apply for presidential-pardon. The commission was headed by 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the TRC listened to stories from more than 20,000 witnesses from all sides of the issue, victims and their families and those who engage one violent act or the other. 

In 1998, TRC released its report and condemned all major political parties, the apartheid government including anti-apartheid movements like the African National Congress for aggravating the violence. In view of the TRC's suggestions, compensation of roughly $4,000 (U.S.) was paid to each victim of the violence in 2003 under Mandela's administration.

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Charlie Rodriguez


Charlie is one of the most talented individuals we have here. Receiving his degree in International Relations from George Washington University, Charlie has been a vital team member when it comes to stories from the international realm. His thoroughness and in-depth analysis is what makes our reader coming back for more.