Context of Human Rights, and a path to equivalence – Sandile Mlangeni

Adoption of Human Rights policy by The UN in 1948

It’s been 75 years now since the United Nations assembly adopted the concept of human rights as a universal declaration. What was drafted in that meeting gave the impression that everyone is born free, equal in dignity and in rights. It was good that nations assembled in 1948, but what was terrible is that even though it was acknowledged that there were serious violations of human rights in this world, very few practical exercises were done to hold countries, and people accountable for violating such rights and freedom.

There were racial groups who considered themselves as superior to the rest, these are groups of Europe descent who violated many parts of our world by unfairly taking their land, resources and forcefully indoctrinating them with their own religious education and cultural practices. The oppressed had no choice but to submit themselves under the rulership of their masters.

European and American culture or way of living was easily accepted in the global village, whereas, Africans and other forms of cultures from across the world had to adapt to this new trend that was bought up to them by Europeans and the Americans.

SA Relations with The UN

what is ironic is that South Africa is one of the founding members of the United Nations in 1945, and in 1946 SA found itself under global spotlight when India questioned them about the ill-treatment of the people of Indian origin living in SA, and then once again in 1952 the government of SA were questioned about the racial conflicts that existed because of many local organisations who defied against the government, and this includes the African National Congress (ANC).

The oppressive regime of apartheid responded to the UN concerning its policies, and they indicated that their apartheid concept is far from the scope of the UN, what’s shocking is that many of the Western Nations agreed with the South African government, nevertheless the discussions about the apartheid system continued in the United Nations.

It was until 1960 that the viewpoint about South Africa changed, and this was contributed by the Sharpeville massacre, even countries who stood side by side with this government they began to distance themselves from SA and it was acknowledged that what is happening in the country could potentially threaten the world peace.

The Sharpeville incident encouraged the UN in 1966 to proclaim the 21st of March to be International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Human Rights Execution in The Present Day

The year is 2023, and many cultures from across the world (particularly in Africa)  are rarely acknowledged or accepted as they are, their dress code and languages are not esteemed as the same standard like that of the Western form of dress code, and how can we claim that there is equality in the world we live in if Colonial languages such as French, Portuguese and English they remain more dominant in many parts of Africa. And How can we call for equality if there aren’t any writings in African languages even from the institutions such as the UN and many other major entities such as the IMF, the World Health Organisation, and others.

Has the UN failed to launch its human rights campaign? Have they failed in their fight for equality in all forms? The answer to that is a definite NO. They tried their level best to convene with all of its member states and other organisations, and they contributed to educating and fighting for oppressed groups and this also includes a fight for equality in SA whereby black people and other racial groups were oppressed by the apartheid regime.


What I have learned through all of these is that the adoption of Human Rights to society is still met with resistance from those who are privileged either because of their race, or economic standard, the poor remain the poorest, and some racial groups, black people, in particular, are still segregated to participate in economic forums, I will conclude by saying a fight to equality still remains a discussion it’s not yet a reality we all live in.


The World Book encyclopedia (1989),


About the Author:

Sandile Mlangeni is a 2019 GP-based activator, he is passionate about youth activism. Sandile regards it as important to contribute his views and experiences to recognised entities seeking to develop communities. He started his journey as an activist in 2012 when he started collaborating with community-based organisations in his hometown in Tsakane and Kwa-Thema in Ekurhuleni. Civic Education Profile for Fumayo Mabitsela: How a passion for the arts led to a young Limpopo-born activist becoming a ward councillor

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