Ramaphosa was delivering the keynote address at the 70th anniversary commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at Constitution Hill.
President Ramaphosa said on Friday, 7 December 2018, that amongst the many legal documents that inspired the South African constitution, the one produced by the UN had the biggest impact.
“It was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that contributed most to entrenching human rights principles into our law, perhaps more than any other international legal instrument,” said Ramaphosa who was one of the authors of the South African constitution.
The president was delivering the keynote address at 70th anniversary commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). “The UDHR is a milestone document which underpins all international human rights law and was drafted by representatives from different legal and cultural backgrounds from across the world,” said presidential spokesperson, Khusela Diko.
Diko said on Thursday, 6 December 2018, that the UDHR had special significance to South African history. “On 10 December 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and on the same day in 1996, the Constitution of South Africa was signed into law by former South African President Nelson Mandela.
The anniversary celebrations took place at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg. Constitution Hill is home to the South African Judiciary and was a prison under apartheid. “The founder of democratic South Africa, President Nelson Mandela, was incarcerated twice at the Old Fort in the early 1960s,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa recalled the day Mandela opened the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and Commemoration. “He spoke poignantly of his experience, and of the former jail being turned into a place of commemoration ‘so that future generations will remember what their freedom has been built on’,” the ANC leader said.
Ramaphosa was joined by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet. “We look forward to working with you in advancing the aims of your office, and to playing our part in entrenching a culture of human rights not just in South Africa but across the globe,” Ramaphosa said to her.
Bachelet called on South Africans to promote UDHR ideals. “I encourage all of you to continue working to create a just, equitable and inclusive society, where all are able to share in the benefits of freedom,” she said.