CIVIL SOCIETY WATCH 4 - 10 DECEMBER
This week — Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 75 and controversial spy bill up for debate
The 14th Annual Child Health Priorities Association annual conference takes place along with the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture.
10 December 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) — one of the world’s most ‘groundbreaking’ global pledges.
“This landmark document enshrines the consecrated rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being — regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
“The Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 and sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected,” the UN brief reads
Available in more than 500 languages, it is the most translated document in the world.
A year-long initiative focusing on universality, progress and engagement, will culminate in a high-level event in December 2023, which will announce global pledges and ideas for a vision for the future of human rights.
2023 Theme: Freedom, Equality and Justice for All
In the decades since the adoption of the UDHR in 1948, human rights have become more recognised and more guaranteed across the globe. The UDHR has since served as the foundation for an expanding system of human rights protection that today focuses also on vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and migrants.
Events this week
On Monday, 5 December from 12 — 1 pm, join Intelwatch, Anton Harber and Marianne Merten for Daily Maverick’s December webinar titled “The Spy Bill: An autocratic roadmap to State Capture 2.0”.
“We will discuss the draconian Spy Bill threatening civil society organisations and South African democracy,” reads the event description. Panellists include:
- Research and journalism co-ordinator at Intelwatch, Heidi Swart
- Executive Director: Campaign for Free Expression, Anton Harber
- Daily Maverick Associate editor, Marianne Merten
About the discussion
Securocrats are pushing for the ‘Spy Bill’ to become law at break-neck speed before the current parliament dissolves in May 2024. The new bill, once law, will affect us all. It will effectively allow for:
- Sate security vetting of any private individual, non-profit organisation, religious organisation, or even businesses (at the behest of the intelligence forces);
- Mass surveillance of all South Africans’ communications, with little meaningful oversight;
- The continued abuse of secret service account funds; and
- A toothless Inspector-General of Intelligence (the public watchdog of intelligence agencies)
All of these aspects played a key role in the State Security Agency’s capture during the tenure of former president Jacob Zuma. The new bill ignores the findings of the Zondo Commission and thus could clear the way for another episode of State Capture.
Register for free here.
On Monday, 4 December at 7 pm GMT+2, The Nelson Mandela Foundation will host a Twitter space in the lead-up to the 21st Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture that takes place on 5 December.
Join and engage to delve into the lecture’s theme around gender apartheid and the role of leadership in this area.
On Monday, 4 December from 7pm – 8pm, join Defend Our Democracy for a Webinar with Judge Richard Goldstone on “Will an International Anti-Corruption Court curb grand scale corruption and State Capture?”
On Tuesday, 5 December at 9 am, Civil Society organisations in Johannesburg will hold a picket outside Sci-Bono Discovery Centre.
“Justice for survivors of the Marshalltown Fire! City of Joburg: stop turning buildings into slums! We want safe and dignified housing for all”, reads the event description.
According to a statement, the aim of the picket is as follows:
- “We demand that Commissioner Thulani Makhubela be recused. His anti-foreign rhetoric on social media and public support for anti-migrant groups like Operation Dudula risks retraumatising fire victims who are migrants and prejudicing the inquiry.
- “We demand that the all those affected by this tragiic fire be given the necessary support to attend the commission without additional strain on those who have been traumatised by this disaster.
- “We stand in support of the survivors of this horrific fire. We want the truth and we want justice.
- We demand an end to scapegoating migrants for government failures. We don’t believe your xenophobic lies.
- We call for the expansion of job-creating social housing programmes now.”
On Tuesday, 5 December from 4pm to 6pm, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, who will deliver this year’s Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture (NMAL), will be part of a panel discussion after her address.
The panellists for the 21st lecture are:
Graça Machel, founder of the Graça Machel Trust and the Foundation for Community Development, is an African stateswoman whose decades-long professional and public life is rooted in Mozambique’s struggle for self-rule and international advocacy for women’s and children’s rights.She is a founding member and Deputy Chair of The Elders, and played a key role in establishing Girls Not Brides, a global partnership aimed at ending child marriage. She is also a member of the UN Secretary-General’s high-level SDG Advocates group.
Nompendulo Thobile Mkhatshwa is the youngest woman on the benches of the African National Congress in South Africa’s National Assembly and serves as the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and on the Board of Trustees of the South Africa Student Solidarity Foundation for Education.
Karima Bennoune is the Lewis M Simes Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School, where she specialises in public international law and international human rights law, including issues related to culture, extremism and terrorism, and women’s human rights. She has served as the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, and in September 2023 addressed the UN Security Council about gender apartheid in Afghanistan.
Metra Mehran is an Afghan human rights activist and academic whose work is focused on women’s empowerment, gender equality, peace and development. She has been recognised for her contributions to these fields and was a finalist for the prestigious 2021 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Mehran co-founded the Feminine Perspectives Movement, an initiative aimed at ensuring women’s perspectives are reflected in peace negotiations, while promoting intergenerational exchange for sustainable peace.
Read more about the panellists when you register to watch the live stream here.
On Tuesday, 5 December, the Commission of Inquiry into the 2023 Marshalltown fire, will recommence. The fire took the lives of at least 77 people while at least 88 others were injured. The Commission is expected to make findings and recommendations on who must shoulder responsibility for the state of affairs, deaths, and injuries.
On Wednesday, 6 December at 1 pm, join the Ubuntu Webinar Series. Join the Southern Africa Litigation Centre to discuss physical security strategies for grassroots organisations, particularly minority groups.
On Wednesday, 6 December from 12- 1:30 pm, Civicus will host a dialogue on the 6th Global Data Assessment on Civic Freedoms.
“The Civicus Monitor, an online research platform that tracks fundamental freedoms in 198 countries, has raised concerns about the state of civic freedoms in Africa in its upcoming annual global data report, to be launched on 6 December 2023.
“According to the report, a broad chunk of the continent, stretching from the Atlantic coast of Senegal to Somalia on the Indian Ocean, is almost entirely rated ‘Repressed.”
From 4 – 12 December, #COP28 continues
“COP28 refers to the United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 30 November until 12 December 2023.
UN Climate Change conferences (or COPs) take place every year, and are the world’s only multilateral decision-making forum on climate change with almost complete membership of every country in the world.
To put it simply, the COP is where the world comes together to agree on ways to address the climate crisis, such as limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, helping vulnerable communities adapt to the effects of climate change, and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
More than 70,000 delegates are expected to attend COP28, including the member states (or Parties) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Business leaders, young people, climate scientists, Indigenous Peoples, journalists, and various other experts and stakeholders are also among the participants.
Officially, COP 28 stands for the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC.
Read more about: UN Climate Change Conferences
From Tuesday 5 to Wednesday 6 December, the 14th Annual Child Health Priorities Association annual conference will take place. The conference secretariat is very excited about the lineup of speakers and panellists planned
Register here for more details.
On Friday, 8 December from 8 am to 1:30 pm, Custodian of Good Governance, United Nations South Africa and the University of South Africa will commemorate International Anti-Corruption Day, under the theme “UNcac (United Nations Convention against Corruption)at 20 — uniting against corruption: anti-corruption policies and programmes: how to better collaborate to improve implementation and impact”
Attend the event virtually here.
“This year’s event to mark the 75th anniversary of the Genocide Convention will focus on the theme of ‘A Living Force in World Society: The Legacy of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide’. It will seek to highlight some of the achievements that emanate from the Convention, showcasing its legacy and reminding of the efforts which led to its drafting and adoption. The event will also reflect on the challenges that remain for its effective implementation. Genocide is still a threat in the world today. Around the world, populations remain at risk of this crime. The need to invest in prevention as envisaged by the Convention drafters 75 years ago remains as relevant as ever,” the event description reads.
From Sunday 10 December to Tuesday 12 December in Cape Town, the Alternative Informati0n and Development Centre , Trade Unions for Energy Democracy and the National Labour and Economic Development Institute will have a three-day conference of dialogue and exchange.
“The Conference will bring popular forces from labour, social movements and progressive civil society to take forward discussions to define a Just Transition to address the social, economic and ecological issues tearing our country apart. In other words, to develop a Just Transition from below, as an alternative to the government and big corporations’ Green Structural Adjustment Programme, which it labels a Just Transition.
“The focus of the conference will be on current debates on how best to decarbonise energy systems, as a key pillar for dealing with the accelerating climate crisis and transit awning to a low-carbon economy. Our concern is with forging a comprehensive just transition that contributes to overcoming mass unemployment and unparalleled levels of inequality,” the event brief reads.
On Sunday, 10 December is the 25th anniversary of the Treatment Action Campaign. The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) was established on 10 December 1998 in Cape Town to campaign for the availability and access to antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) in South Africa. Guided by the principle that health is a fundamental human right enshrined in the South Africa Constitution, it has evolved into a globally distinguished and recognised social justice movement. DM