New moves on racism

The Herald, June 5, 1980

NAIROBI. – Organisation of African Unity heads of state will be urged at their 1980 summit meeting, which opens in Freetown, Sierra Leone on July 1, to convene a meeting of African jurists to establish an international tribunal to try persons alleged to have committed “the crime of apartheid”.

This was one of the major recommendations of a two-week United Nations seminar on racism and racial discrimination which ended in Nairobi last Friday.

The seminar’s resolutions, released yesterday by the United Nation’s Nairobi information office, urged all African countries, which had not done so, to ratify and implement international conventions on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination and “the suppression and punishment of the crime of apartheid”.

They also urged all states to comply with the arms embargo on South Africa and to continue to press for mandatory sanctions against South Africa under chapter seven of the UN Charter.

Participants from about 30 African countries, also called for increased material: financial, military, and moral assistance to “the liberation movements fighting for freedom in Namibia and South Africa” and recommended that efforts be intensified for the implementation of the UN plan for Namibian independence.

The Press in African countries were accused of aiding and abetting racism by presenting stereotyped, partial, unilateral, or tendentious pictures of individuals and various human groups.

The seminar then recommended an Africa-wide roundtable conference of information and mass media delegates to discuss the role of the media in combating racism and racial discrimination.

Mr E. Mompoint, representing UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim, told the seminar the UN had spearheaded the fight against apartheid and he was convinced that it was only a matter of time “before the people of Namibia and South Africa will be liberated and restored to their full rights”.

Between speeches condemning apartheid, the seminar also discussed ethnic or tribal prejudices in Africa, the control of governments by oppressive dictators, unrepresentative elites, violence and violations of human rights stemming from these factors, and prejudice in various African countries against non-nationals.

On these topics, it passed resolutions commending that a study be made of tribalism in Africa and that a proposed African commission on human rights be asked to make arrangements for ending discrimination and protecting minorities.


  • Apartheid is racial segregation that was practiced in South Africa from 1948 to 1994. Under this system, the apartheid government of that time, which was all white, dictated that non-white South Africans (a majority of the population) were required to live in separate areas from whites and use separate public facilities, and contact between the two groups
  • The chief architect of apartheid was a South African politician, scholar of applied psychology and sociology, and chief editor of Die Transvaler newspaper, Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd
  • Although apartheid in South Africa ended with the repealing of policies that entrenched the racial system after democratic rule in 1994, scholars believe that the economic and social impacts of apartheid are still evident with the ever-widening gaps between black and white South Africans in multiple ways.

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