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Questions and answers about the UN

Racial quotas: Solidarity v the State 
Solidarity World has conducted an interview with Dr Dirk Herman, chief executive of Solidarity, concerning the charge laid by Solidarity against the South African government at the United Nations. The charge will be heard on 8 August.

Why did Solidarity lay a charge at the United Nations?

The South African government is simply going too far with racial quotas. It is as if we have become a racial state and not a constitutional state. Someone has to get the democratic confidence to stand up to the state. Solidarity decided to do just that and laid a charge against the South African government a year ago already.

Isn’t it better to sort out things here in South Africa?

If there is one group that has done its best to get a solution in South Africa, that group is Solidarity. We have petitioned legislative amendments at parliament twice, we have tried to come to an arrangement with the government and we have exhausted all the legal remedies right up to the Constitutional Court.

Solidarity has often been successful in court – why then still petition the United Nations?

The answer lies in the question. We have often been successful in court. In a constitutional democracy where the law is respected, you go to court once only and then it is assumed that the opposing party will abide by the ruling. Solidarity has to go to court time and again on the same issue. We even have had to go as far as charging the government with contempt of court. One of our charges against the government is the fact that they disregard court processes.

Isn’t it unpatriotic to charge the government at the UN?

On the contrary. If the government contravenes international best practice, they must be brought into line. International conventions are part of our democracy, and just as patriotic civil organisations have a watchdog role to ensure that the government obeys local laws, they also have a role to hold the government answerable to international conventions. 

How does the process work at the UN?

South Africa is a signatory to the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination. We have committed ourselves to its contents and even have undertaken to align local legislation with this convention. The convention does not provide for separate racial silos like South Africa’s racial quota policy. Governments have to report regularly on what they do to eliminate racial discrimination. Based on the report, civil organisations may then charge the government in the form of a shadow report if issues have been suppressed. Solidarity decided to follow this route. A committee consisting of 18 countries then evaluates the government reports and the reports by civil organisations. 

What can the committee for the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination do?

The committee makes recommendations which then have to be implemented by the government. The government then has to report within two years on what they have been doing to implement the recommendations. Should the government ignore this, it creates an international embarrassment. In extreme cases, a country can lose its membership of the convention if recommendations are ignored. Even more important is the fact that states undertake to adapt local legislation to align it with the convention. Should the committee make recommendations in favour of Solidarity, it will be a powerful weapon for local legal actions.

What is the core of Solidarity’s case?

The core of Solidarity’s case is the use of the national racial demography as quota in the workplace and in sport. Race has become the dominant factor in South African society. We argue that a future cannot be built on the basis of race. 

Why the focus on sport?

Solidarity and AfriForum have drafted a joint section on racial quotas in sport. It highlights the absurdity of the government’s racial ideology. Expecting all sports teams to reflect the racial demography of South Africa is totally absurd. All over the world certain groups prefer certain kinds of sport to other kinds. Obviously, the sports teams will have the composition of the people who want to take part in a particular kind of sport. In any case, the international sports codes prohibit any form of government intervention in sport.

Can people help you to be successful? 

We cannot be successful without people’s support. The United Nations want to know whether we have local support. Therefore we want to demonstrate that we have the support of hundreds of thousands of people. This is a unique opportunity to show the world that thousands of people reject racial quotas. The stronger our mandate from the community, the stronger we are at the United Nations.

Simply SMS the word LEGAL to 34802 and make Solidarity strong at the United Nations. Every vote will be counted.

Do you have a questions regarding the UN? You can ask it here.

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