South Africa Fails to Support Positive U.N. Action for Human Rights

General Assembly Resolutions

  • Syria resolutions (2014, 2015, 2016 GA resolutions) – South Africa abstained along with countries like Ethiopia/Philippines. EU and US always voted in favor and Botswana, Gabon, Tunisia also voted in favor. In the 72nd session, South Africa again abstained along with Ethiopia, Pakistan, and other non-democracies. However, Botswana, Cameroon, Djibouti, Gambia, and EU states voted in favor.
  • Iran resolution (2016 and 2017 GA Resolutions) – South Africa voted No along with China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, and Venezuela). However, EU states, Botswana, and Liberia voted yes.
  • DPRK Resolution (2015 GA Resolutions) – South Africa abstained along with DRC, Eritrea, Pakistan, and other non-democracies. However, Ghana, Haiti, Morocco, Philippines voted in favor along with the EU and the Obama Administration.

Human Rights Council Resolutions

  • At the June 2017 session, South Africa abstained on resolutions condemning human rights abuses in Syria. EU states, Ghana, Panama, Rwanda and Togo voted in favor. 
  • At the June 2017 session, South Africa abstained on a resolution condemning human rights abuses in Belarus.
  • At the June 2016 session, South Africa abstained on the resolution appointing a special rapporteur on violence against gays. Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Panama voted in favor of this resolution.
  • At the March 2017, South Africa abstained on the Iran resolution extending the mandate of the special rapporteur. Panama and Rwanda voted in favor.
  • At the March 2016 session, South Africa voted No on the Iran resolution. Botswana and Panama voted in favor.

Chart of South Africa’s voting record at the United Nations from 2015 to 2018

Resolution Symbol and TitleDateDescriptionDesired voteSouth Africa VoteOther States’ votes
General Assembly Resolutions
A/Res/69/180

Human rights and unilateral coercive measures

Resolution; Voting record

Jan. 30, 2015Denying right to sanction human rights abusersNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Russia and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/Res/69/188

Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Resolution; Voting record

Jan. 21, 2015Condemning human rights abuses in DPRKYesAbstain (joining Libya, Pakistan, and Qatar, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor

 

A/Res/69/189

Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic

Resolution; Voting record

Jan. 29, 2015Condemning human rights violations in SyriaYesAbstain (joining Eritrea, Ethiopia, Pakistan, and Vietnam, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/Res/69/190

Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Resolution; Voting record

Jan. 21, 2015Speaking out for human rights victims in Iran

 

YesAbstain (joining Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/Res/70/151

Human rights and unilateral coercive measures

Resolution; Voting record

March 7, 2016Denying right to sanction human rights abusersNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Russia and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/Res/70/172

Human rights in DPRK

Resolution; Voting record

Feb. 25, 2016Condemning human rights violations in DPRKYesAbstain (joining DRC, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Qatar, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/Res/70/173

Situation of human rights in Iran

Resolution; Voting record

Feb. 25, 2016Speaking out for human rights victims in IranYesAbstain (joining Pakistan, Qatar, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/Res/70/156

Human rights and cultural diversity

Resolution; Voting record

March 3, 2016Praising dictatorships for so-called cultural diversityNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/Res/70/234

Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic

Resolution; Voting record

March 9, 2016Condemning human rights violations in SyriaYesAbstain (joining Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Philippines, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/Res/71/193

Human rights and unilateral coercive measures

Resolution; Voting record

Jan. 20, 2017Denying right to sanction human rights abusersNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/Res/71/203

Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic

Resolution; Voting record

Feb. 1, 2017Condemning human rights violations in SyriaYesAbstain (joining Ethiopia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/Res/71/204

Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Resolution; Voting record

Feb. 1, 2017Speaking out for human rights victims in IranYesNo (joining China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/Res/71/221

Entrepreneurship for sustainable development

Resolution; Voting record

Feb. 7, 2017Encouraging states to promote entrepreneurship as a way of stimulating economic growth in developing countriesYesAbstain (joining China, Turkey, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/Res/72/168

Human rights and unilateral coercive measures

Resolution; Voting record

Jan. 25, 2018Denying right to sanction human rights abusersNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/Res/72/170

Human rights and cultural diversity

Resolution; Voting record

Jan. 23, 2018Praising dictatorships for so-called cultural diversityNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/Res/72/189

Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Resolution; Voting record

Jan. 19, 2018Speaking out for human rights victims in IranYesNo (joining China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/Res/72/191

Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic

Resolution; Voting record

 

Jan. 23, 2018Condemning human rights violations in SyriayesAbstain (joining Eritrea, Ethiopia, Pakistan, and Sudan, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
Human Rights Council Resolutions
A/HRC/Res/28/1

Composition of staff of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

April 10, 2015Seeking to restrict independence of the High Commissioner in choosing his own staffNoYes (joining China, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/HRC/Res/28/8

The effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights

April 13, 2015Seeking to treat problem of foreign debt as human rights problem to be addressed by Human Rights Council, diverting Council’s attention from serious human rights issues that require urgent attentionNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/HRC/Res/28/20

The continuing grave deterioration in the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic

April 8, 2015Condemning human rights violations in SyriaYesAbstain (joining Nigeria, Pakistan, and Vietnam, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/28/21

Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

April 8, 2015Extending mandate of special rapproteur on the situation of human rights in IranYesAbstain (joining Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/28/22

Situation of human rights in the DPRK

April 8, 2015Condemning human rights violations in the DPRKYesAbstain (joining Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/29/3

Human rights and international solidarity

July 21, 2015Attempting to create a new foundational principle of international law called “international solidarity”NoYes (joining China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/HRC/Res/29/16

The grave and deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic

July 22, 2015Condemning human rights violations in SyriaYesAbstain (joining Nigeria, Pakistan, and Vietnam, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/29/17

Situation of human rights in Belarus

July 22, 2015Condemning human rights violations in BelarusYesAbstain (Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/29/23

Cooperation and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights

July 21, 2015Welcoming technical assistance to Ukraine and inviting further reporting by the High Commissioner on the human rights situation in UkraineYesAbstain (joining Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, and Vietnam, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/30/2

Human Rights and Unilateral Coercive Measures

Oct. 12, 2015Denying right to sanction human rights abusersNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Russia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/HRC/Res/30/6

The use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right to peoples of self-determination

 

Oct. 1, 2015Anti-Western resolution seeking to limit ability to engage in operations to maintain international securityNoYes (China, Cuba, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/HRC/Res/30/10

The grave and deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic

Oct. 13, 2015Condemning human rights violations in SyriaYesAbstain (joining Nigeria, Pakistan, and Vietnam, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/30/12

Promotion of the Right to Peace

Oct. 13, 2015Seeking to develop a collective “right to peace,” contrary to idea that human rights are universal and are held and exercised by individualsNoYes (joining China, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/HRC/Res/30/15

Human rights and preventing and countering violent extremism

Oct. 12, 2015Expressing concern about violent extremism and calling on states to respect human rights and international law in countering violent extremismYesNo (joining Russia and Venezuela)The EU and US voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/30/28

The right to development

Oct. 13, 2015Divisive resolution on so-called “right to development” about which there is no international consensusNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/HRC/Res/30/29

Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order

Oct. 13, 2015Divisive resolution failing to comprehensively deal with the issues and omitting duties and obligations of states with respect to issues addressedNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/HRC/Res/31/1

Composition of staff of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

April 13, 2016Seeking to restrict independence of the High Commissioner in choosing his own staffNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU voted against
A/HRC/Res/31/11

The effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights

April 20, 2016Seeking to treat problem of foreign debt as human rights problem to be addressed by Human Rights Council, diverting Council’s attention from serious human rights issues that require urgent attentionNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)

 

 

The EU voted against
A/HRC/Res/31/17

The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic

April 8, 2016Condemning human rights violations in SyriaYesAbstain (joining Ethiopia, Nigeria, Philippines, and Vietnam, etc.)The EU voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/31/19

Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

April 20, 2016Extending mandate of Special Rapporteur on human rights in IranYesNo (joining China, Cuba, Russia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/31/37

The promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests

April 12, 2016Calling for protection of rights of peaceful protestersYesAbstain (joining Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam, etc.)The EU voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/32/2

Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

July 15, 2016Appointing independent expert on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identityYesAbstain (Joining the Philippines, etc.)The EU voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/32/9

Human rights and international solidarity

July 18, 2016Attempting to create a new foundational principle of international law called “international solidarity”NoYes (joining China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam)The EU voted against
A/HRC/Res/32/23

Protection of the family: role of the family in supporting the protection and promotion of human rights of persons with disabilities

July 18, 2016Diminishing role and responsibility of states in protecting persons with disabilitiesNoYes (joining Burundi, Cuba, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU voted against
A/HRC/Res/32/25

The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic

July 15, 2016Condemning human rights violations in SyriaYesAbstain (joining Ethiopia, Nigeria, Philippines, and Vietnam, etc.)The EU voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/32/26

Situation of human rights in Belarus

July 15, 2016Condemning human rights violations in BelarusYesAbstain (joining Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Philippines, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, etc.)The EU voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/32/28

Declaration on the right to peace

July 18, 2016Seeking to develop a collective “right to peace,” contrary to idea that human rights are universal and are held and exercised by individualsNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU voted against or abstained
A/HRC/Res/32/29

Cooperation with and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights

July 18, 2016Welcoming technical assistance to Ukraine and inviting further reporting by the High Commissioner on the human rights situation in UkraineYesAbstain (joining Ethiopia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam, etc.)The EU voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/32/31

Civil society space

July 20, 2016Calling on states to respect and protect civil society actors operating in their territoriesYesNo (joining China, Congo, Cuba, Nigeria, Russia and Venezuela)The EU voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/33/4

The use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination

Oct. 5, 2016Anti-Western resolution seeking to limit ability to engage in operations to maintain international securityNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU voted against
A/HRC/Res/33/14

The right to development

Oct. 5, 2016Divisive resolution on so-called “right to development” about which there is no international consensusNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU voted against or abstained
A/HRC/Res/33/23

The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic

Oct. 6, 2016Condemning human rights violation in SyriaYesAbstain (joining Ethiopia, Nigeria, Philippines, and Vietnam, etc.)The EU voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/33/24

Situation of human rights in Burundi

Oct. 5, 2016Condemning human rights violations in BurundiYesAbstain (joining Nigeria, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam, etc.)The EU voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/34/3

Mandate of the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights

April 6, 2017Seeking to treat problem of foreign debt as human rights problem to be addressed by Human Rights Council, diverting Council’s attention from serious human rights issues that require urgent attentionNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/HRC/Res/34/13

Human rights and unilateral coercive measures

April 7, 2017Denying right to sanction human rights abusersNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/HRC/Res/34/23

Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran

April 3, 2017Extending mandate of Special rapporteur on human rights in IranYesAbstain (joining Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Philippines, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/34/26

The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic

April 5, 2017Condemning human rights violations in SyriaYesAbstain (joining Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Philippines, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/35/3

Human rights and international solidarity

July 10, 2017Attempting to create a new foundational principle of international law called “international solidarity”NoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/HRC/Res/34/4

Promotion of the right to peace

July 11, 2017Seeking to develop a collective “right to peace,” contrary to idea that human rights are universal and are held and exercised by individualsNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against or abstained
A/HRC/Res/35/8

Enhancement of international cooperation in the field of human rights

July 14, 2017Seeking to limit independence of Office of High Commissioner for Human RightsNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against or abstained
A/HRC/Res/35/13

Protection of the family: role of the family in supporting the protection and promotion of human rights of older persons

July 6, 2017Failing to recognize diversity of family types found around the worldNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/HRC/Res/35/21

The contribution of development to the enjoyment of all human rights

July 7, 2017Divisive resolution on so-called “right to development” about which there is no international consensusNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/HRC/Res/35/26

The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic

July 14, 2017Condemning human rights violations in SyriaYesAbstain (joining Egypt, Nigeria, and Tunisia)The EU and US voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/35/27

Situation of human rights in Belarus

July 11, 2017Condemning human rights violations in BelarusYesAbstain (joining Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Iraq, Nigeria, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/35/31

Cooperation with and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights

July 11, 2017Welcoming technical assistance to Ukraine and inviting further reporting by the High Commissioner on the human rights situation in UkraineYesAbstain (joining Egypt, Ethiopia, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/36/1

Composition of staff of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Oct. 5, 2017Seeking to restrict independence of the High Commissioner in choosing his own staffNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against
A/HRC/Res/36/3

The use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination

Oct. 5, 2017Anti-Western resolution seeking to limit ability to engage in operations to maintain international securityNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The US and EU voted against
A/HRC/Res/36/9

The right to development

Oct. 6, 2017Divisive resolution on so-called “right to development” about which there is no international consensusNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The EU and US voted against or abstained
A/HRC/Res/36/10

Human rights and unilateral coercive measures

Oct. 9, 2017Denying right to sanction human rights abusersNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The US and EU voted against
A/HRC/Res/36/19

Renewal of the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi

Oct. 4, 2017Condemning human rights violations in BurundiYesNo (joining China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The US and EU voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/36/20

The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic

Oct. 9, 2017Condemning human rights violations in SyriaYesAbstain (joining Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Tunisia, etc.)The EU and US voted in favor
A/HRC/Res/36/34

Mandate of the Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order

Oct. 5, 2017Divisive resolution failing to comprehensively deal with the issues and omitting duties and obligations of states with respect to issues addressedNoYes (joining China, Cuba, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, etc.)The US and EU voted against

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