Apartheid part 06



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International relations during apartheid

International opposition to
apartheid in South Africa

Commonwealth

South Africa's policies were subject to international scrutiny in 1960, when Macmillan criticised them during his celebrated Wind of Change speech in Cape Town. Weeks later, tensions came to a head in the Sharpeville Massacre, resulting in more international condemnation. Soon afterwards Verwoerd announced a referendum on whether the country should become a republic. Verwoerd lowered the voting age for whites to 18 and included whites in South West Africa on the roll. The referendum on 5 October that year asked whites, "Are you in favour of a Republic for the Union?", and 52 percent voted "Yes".

As a consequence of this change of status, South Africa needed to reapply for continued membership of the Commonwealth, with which it had privileged trade links. India had become a republic within the Commonwealth in 1950, but it became clear that African and Asian member states would oppose South Africa due to its apartheid policies. As a result, South Africa withdrew from the Commonwealth on 31 May 1961, the day that the Republic came into existence.

United Nations

We stand here today to salute the United Nations Organisation and its Member States, both singly and collectively, for joining forces with the masses of our people in a common struggle that has brought about our emancipation and pushed back the frontiers of racism.
Nelson Mandela, address to the United Nations as South African President, 3 October 1994

At the first UN gathering in 1946, South Africa was placed on the agenda. The primary subject in question was the handling of South African Indians, a great cause of divergence between South Africa and India. In 1952, apartheid was again discussed in the aftermath of the Defiance Campaign, and the UN set up a task team to keep watch on the progress of apartheid and the racial state of affairs in South Africa. Although South Africa's racial policies were a cause for concern, most countries in the UN concurred that this was a domestic affair, which fell outside the UN's jurisdiction.

In April 1960, the UN's conservative stance on apartheid changed following the Sharpeville massacre, and the Security Council for the first time agreed on concerted action against the apartheid regime, demanding an end to racial separation and discrimination. From 1960 the ANC began a campaign of armed struggle of which there would later be a charge of 193 acts of terrorism from 1961 to 1963, mainly bombings and murders of civilians.

Instead, the South African government began further suppression, banning the ANC and PAC. In 1961, UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld stopped over in South Africa and subsequently stated that he had been unable to reach agreement with Prime Minister Verwoerd.

In 1961, dismissing an Israeli vote against South African apartheid at the United Nations, Verwoerd famously said, "Israel is not consistent in its new anti-apartheid attitude … they took Israel away from the Arabs after the Arabs lived there for a thousand years. In that, I agree with them. Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state."

On 6 November 1962, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 1761, condemning apartheid policies. In 1966, the UN held the first of many colloquiums on apartheid. The General Assembly announced 21 March as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in memory of the Sharpeville massacre. In 1971, the General Assembly formally denounced the institution of homelands, and a motion was passed in 1974 to expel South Africa from the UN, but this was vetoed by France, the United Kingdom and the United States, all key trade associates of South Africa.

On 7 August 1963 the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 181, calling for a voluntary arms embargo against South Africa. In the same year a Special Committee Against Apartheid was established to encourage and oversee plans of action against the regime. From 1964 the US and Britain discontinued their arms trade with South Africa. The Security Council also condemned the Soweto massacre in Resolution 392. In 1977, the voluntary UN arms embargo became mandatory with the passing of Resolution 418.

Economic sanctions against South Africa were also frequently debated as an effective way of putting pressure on the apartheid government. In 1962, the UN General Assembly requested that its members sever political, fiscal and transportation ties with South Africa. In 1968, it proposed ending all cultural, educational and sporting connections as well. Economic sanctions, however, were not made mandatory, because of opposition from South Africa's main trading partners.

In 1973, the UN adopted the Apartheid Convention which defines apartheid and even qualifies it as a crime against humanity which might lead to international criminal prosecution of the individuals responsible for perpetrating it. This convention has however only been ratified by 107 of the 193 member states as of August 2008. The convention was initially drafted by the former USSR and Guinea, before being presented to the UN General Assembly. The convention was adopted with a vote of 91 for, and 4 (Portugal, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States) against the convention.

In 1978 and 1983 the UN condemned South Africa at the World Conference Against Racism.

After much debate, by the late 1980s the United States, the United Kingdom, and 23 other nations had passed laws placing various trade sanctions on South Africa. A disinvestment from South Africa movement in many countries was similarly widespread, with individual cities and provinces around the world implementing various laws and local regulations forbidding registered corporations under their jurisdiction from doing business with South African firms, factories, or banks.

Catholic Church

Pope John Paul II was an outspoken opponent of apartheid. In 1985, while visiting the Netherlands, he gave an impassioned speech at the International Court of Justice condemning apartheid, proclaiming that "no system of apartheid or separate development will ever be acceptable as a model for the relations between peoples or races." In September 1988 he made a pilgrimage to countries bordering South Africa, while demonstratively avoiding South Africa itself. During his visit to Zimbabwe, he called for economic sanctions against South Africa's government.

Organisation for African Unity

The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was created in 1963. Its primary objectives were to eradicate colonialism and improve social, political and economic situations in Africa. It censured apartheid and demanded sanctions against South Africa. African states agreed to aid the liberation movements in their fight against apartheid. In 1969, fourteen nations from Central and East Africa gathered in Lusaka, Zambia, and formulated the Lusaka Manifesto, which was signed on 13 April by all of the countries in attendance except Malawi. This manifesto was later taken on by both the OAU and the United Nations.

The Lusaka Manifesto summarised the political situations of self-governing African countries, condemning racism and inequity, and calling for black majority rule in all African nations. It did not rebuff South Africa entirely, though, adopting an appeasing manner towards the apartheid government, and even recognising its autonomy. Although African leaders supported the emancipation of black South Africans, they preferred this to be attained through peaceful means.

South Africa's negative response to the Lusaka Manifesto and rejection of a change to its policies brought about another OAU announcement in October 1971. The Mogadishu Declaration stated that South Africa's rebuffing of negotiations meant that its black people could only be freed through military means, and that no African state should converse with the apartheid government.

Outward-looking policy

In 1966 B. J. Vorster became Prime Minister. He was not prepared to dismantle apartheid, but he did try to redress South Africa's isolation and to revitalise the country's global reputation, even those with black-ruled nations in Africa. This he called his "Outward-Looking" policy.

Vorster's willingness to talk to African leaders stood in contrast to Verwoerd's refusal to engage with leaders such as Abubakar Tafawa Balewa of Nigeria in 1962 and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia in 1964. In 1966, he met the heads of the neighbouring states of Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana. In 1967, he offered technological and financial aid to any African state prepared to receive it, asserting that no political strings were attached, aware that many African states needed financial aid despite their opposition to South Africa's racial policies. Many were also tied to South Africa economically because of their migrant labour population working on the South African mines. Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland remained outspoken critics of apartheid, but depended on South Africa's economic aid.

Malawi was the first country not on South African borders to accept South African aid. In 1967, the two states set out their political and economic relations, and, in 1969, Malawi became the only country at the assembly which did not sign the Lusaka Manifesto condemning South Africa' apartheid policy. In 1970, Malawian president Hastings Banda made his first and most successful official stopover in South Africa.

Associations with Mozambique followed suit and were sustained after that country won its sovereignty in 1975. Angola was also granted South African loans. Other countries which formed relationships with South Africa were Liberia, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mauritius, Gabon, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and the Central African Republic. Although these states condemned apartheid (more than ever after South Africa's denunciation of the Lusaka Manifesto), South Africa's economic and military dominance meant that they remained dependent on South Africa to varying degrees.

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