As South Africa honours the first commemoration of the departure of our former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the father of a nation founded on human rights, equality, non-discrimination and non-sexism. We reflect on the great contributions and commitments he has made in the struggle for liberation, peace and justice. These are indeed principles he has taught to us and the rest of the world at large, which is the greatest legacy he has left behind.
On the 5th of December 2013, when the whole world learnt of the passing away of this giant, it was a very sad moment but also a time to celebrate his life as a world icon on human rights. Through his activism he managed to secure every South African a bright future and went on to introduce measures that ensured that we never go that pathway again. Next week Wednesday (10th December) we will be further celebrating one of Madiba’s greatest achievements as we commemorate 18 years of him signing into law the South African Constitution, which is the foundation of our hard earned democracy. As HURISA we are planning an event on that date where we mirror the icon’s role, especially as one of the important leaders who were vital in the fundraising efforts of the Human Rights Institute of South Africa in its inception phases during the early 90s. It was in 1992 when, during a visit to Norway, Mr Mandela requested assistance from the Norwegian Government for effective monitoring of politically based public violence that was threatening the transformation process from apartheid to a multiracial democracy in South Africa. This paved the way for the establishment of HURISA. The following year in June 1993 HURISA was founded as the Institute for the Study of Public Violence and served as the research and documentation arm of the Commission of Inquiry into public violence, chaired by retired Judge Richard Goldstone. This was all made possible by the support and encouragement of President Nelson Mandela, the father of our democracy. It was in 1994 when the Goldstone Commission’s mandate ended and the name of the organisation was changed to the Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA).
Right from the beginning the organisation envisaged a society in which all people are aware of their human rights, how their rights can be realised and how redress mechanisms can be accessed. To this end the organisation provides human rights education and citizen participation, primarily in South Africa, but also in the region and continent at large. HURISA now is among the leading human rights bodies in the region and implements projects and programmes designed to equip citizens with knowledge about the rights they are entitled to, as well as the importance of their participation in the social debates of the day.
Although challenges exist in our system today, we are confident of the impact Madiba has made in all South Africans. We are urging the government of the day to continue Madiba’s legacy of defending human rights and caring for the upliftment of the people through policy, values, actions and priorities. We call upon South Africans to play a role in holding our government accountable as was Mandela’s administration. We are also calling upon South Africa to have a pro-human rights approach in foreign policy as well as in regional commitments. HURISA thus avails itself, as in previous years, to partnering with different stakeholders in strengthening national as well as continental and global systems of human rights , peace and democracy.
As we celebrate 20 years of our organization’s existence, we applaud uTata Nelson Mandela for everything he has done for us during his lifetime in adding value to human’s actuality.
In our minds and those of future generations uTata will never be forgotten.
Issued by: The Human Rights Institute of South Africa
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