Apartheid Is Condemned By The U.N. – 11/6/1962

World History |


Due to the racist apartheid policies adopted in South Africa, the United Nations General Assembly crafts a resolution on November 6th, 1962 that condemns this and asks its member to stop military and economic associations with the country. Apartheid, meaning “apartness” that comes from an Afrikaans word, was instated from 1948 to 1993 that was government-sanctioned racial segregation as well as economic and political discrimination against the non-white majority population of South Africa. 

There were many injustices that blacks had to endure including needing a special pass to be allowed to go into a neighborhood that was designed for whites-only and they could only live in areas that were segregated. Whites were able to have ownership of the large majority of the country’s wealth and land despite the fact that they only represented a tiny part of the population.

The wide support for the international movement to stop apartheid increased after the horrific massacre at Sharpeville close to Johannesburg, South Africa in 1960 when over 180 blacks were injured and 69 were murdered. Unfortunately, few South Africa’s other primary trading partners or Western powers supported a total military or economic embargo towards the country. Despite this, the U.N. non-favoring of apartheid began to increase and finally, a resolution from them in 1973 referred to apartheid as a “crime against humanity.” The General Assembly officially suspended South Africa’s membership in 1974.

The decades that contained increasingly violent demonstrations, strikes and sanctions yielded to a lot of apartheid laws being stopped by 1990. The final end came under President F.W. de Klerk in 1991 as the South African Government got rid of all the laws pertaining to apartheid while committing to craft a new constitution. The multi-party and multi-racial transitional government was born in 1993 while a year later saw South Africa having its fully free first elections. Nelson Mandela, who was a political activist and who was imprisoned for 27 years alongside other leaders opposed to apartheid on being convicted of treason, was elected as South Africa’s new president.

The new government created the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 1996 started to investigate the human rights violations and violence that occurred under the system of apartheid between 1960 and May 10th, 1994 which was the day that Mandela was sworn into office. The goal of the commission was to heal South Africa by coping with its past openly but not to punish anyone. Those involved with criminal acts could apply for amnesty after confessing. 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu had won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize and headed the TRC in listening to testimony from everyone involved in the issue that had over 20,000 witnesses ranging from those responsible of violence to the victims and their families. When the report was released in 1998, it put blame on every important political group such as anti-apartheid forces like the African National Congress and the apartheid government for adding to the violence. The government started making reparation payments based on recommendations made by the TRC of roughly $4,000 (U.S.) in 2003 to each victim of violence.

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