On Tuesday the Johannesburg-based Nelson Mandela Foundation moderated a virtual side event to the meeting of the General Assembly. The theme of the event was ‘The importance of the principles of self-determination and non discrimination – justice for the Palestinian people.’
The event was hosted by the Permanent Missions of South Africa and Namibia.
The speakers included the South African Minister of International Relations, Naledi Pandor, Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Riad al-Maliki, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, deputy president of Namibia, former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Prof. John Dugard, Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director of Human Rights Watch, the Israeli human rights lawyer Michael Sfard as well as Palestinian advocates Nada Awad and Rania Muhareb.
The speakers emphasized that the plight of Palestine was close to Nelson Mandela’s heart because of his own experiences in Apartheid South Africa.
Commission of Inquiry
Naledi Pandor stated that the Palestinian experience mirrors the South African experience. She urged the international community to welcome the initiative of the UN Human Rights Council to establish an international commission of inquiry into violations committed in the recent 11 day conflict between Israel and Palestinian groups in Palestine. She said that such a commission should be established with ‘due haste’.
Pandor further called on an international day of protest every moth to protest violations committed against Palestinians.
John Dugard stated that the ultimate way of achieving self-determination was for countries to recognise the statehood of Palestine.
He said that although international public opinion has shifted with regard to recognising Israel as an apartheid state, states still have to condemn Israel as an apartheid state.
Dugard made the following closing remark: ‘If South Africa and Namibia were to lend their voice to refer the crime of apartheid being committed by Israel to the International Criminal Court this would put pressure to bring about a prosecution.’
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