A Return to the UN-HRC - Geneva, Switzerland 2017
Updated: Mar 13
This famous room at the UN in Geneva was a hard sell for our stakeholder team when it came to advocating for the rights of South Africa's Coloured/KhoeKhoe community. Here are some reasons why (In my opinion):
A lot of human rights leaders and activists around the globe associate the ANC government with Mandela and Tutu, not realizing the ANC of today is NOT the ANC of 1994. We learned quickly that one not speak badly about 'Mandela's' party. Sadly, it is no longer Mandela's party and runs much different but try telling that to UN officials.
The ANC was heavily represented and primarily the only voice in Geneva. They minimized our grievances. We were not anti-ANC, we only wanted to encourage change in their policies and BEE quotas.
The number of global genocide cases overshadowed our grievances. If no one was being killed, it was hard to gain attention.
The year we were there was the year for global LGBTQ awarement and rights (which I absolutely respect and support) but I would say 75% of the recommendations made, were LGBTQ related. So, between genocides and LGBTQ rights it was hard to get peoples attention.
I also say, that the UN is too small to handle cultural genocide cases (the baby steps that lead genocide). Why? Unless there is death involved, stakeholders and their submissions seem to get placed to the bottom of the pile. With global communication so readily available at everyone's fingertips and Human Rights activists/organizations need to maintain their jobs/businesses (they will keep the UN busy), the increase in stakeholder reports is mind boggling. How can one organization oversee and hold so many governments accountable in a timely manner for thousands of atrocities and government's carrying out cultural genocide. It's impossible. There is not enough manpower to keep future genocides from happening.
As much as we don't want to believe it, the UN is swayed politically at times. Definitely the case for South Africa. No one dare side with those challenging ANC policies.
On a side note, the UN should give guaranteed passage to all stakeholders. There were several community leaders we wanted to take with us from South Africa but they could not pass the stringent Schengen visa requirements. Basically, those with $ and influence get to make their way to Geneva. Yes, have some guidelines but not so restrictive as Schengen.