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The Centre for Constitutional Rights writes regular articles on topical issues, participates in the national debate on constitutional issues and interacts with government and interested groups with a view to upholding constitutional rights and values.

ARTICLE: INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY

10 December is commemorated annually as International Human Rights Day. The date has particular significance, as it is the date on which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. The UDHR was born following the end of World War II and recognises that everyone is entitled to fundamental human rights protection. The UDHR articulates and enumerates universal inalienable rights such as equality and dignity, regardless of grounds like race, colour, religion, sex, national or social origin. While it is not a binding document, the UDHR is the foundation for over 60 human rights instruments across the world, including the South African Constitution. 

10 December also happens to be the culmination of the United Nation’s annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. During these 16 days, society is urged to ponder upon the scourge of gender-based violence and to consistently speak up against it, act against it and advocate for victims and survivors. The devastating irony is that in South Africa, in the middle of this awareness campaign, the reports of missing or murdered women and children continued to pour in. It is therefore apt that this day calls for a reflection on what it means to be a human rights bearer and the history of disenfranchisement that far too many communities of vulnerable people have yet to overcome. The poor protection record permeates more than just gender-based violence and is not limited to South Africa. 

DISCUSSION SUMMARY: UNPACKING THE NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE (NHI) BILL

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On Thursday 28 November, the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CFCR) and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) hosted the final of a series of topical discussions for 2019. The discussion series aims to bring together stakeholders from like-minded institutions, representatives of foreign communities, members of the public at large and any other interested parties, to allow for the sharing of thoughts, opinions and solutions. 

The topic was “Unpacking the NHI Bill”. With the deadline for submissions on NHI due on 29  November 2019 the CFCR invited two speakers, Mr Michael Settas, member of the Free Market Foundations’ Health Policy Unit, and Mr Russell Rensburg, Executive Director of the Rural Health Advocacy Project. Speakers shared their thoughts on the proposed  NHI and  whether this financing system could achieve Universal Health Care (UHC). 

STATEMENT: WORLD AIDS DAY 2019 - COMMUNITIES MAKE THE DIFFERENCE

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World Aids Day is commemorated on 1 December annually. The day is dedicated to uniting people across the globe to join the fight against HIV, to raise awareness and to remember those who have tragically lost the fight against HIV. The theme for the UNAIDS’s 2019 campaign is “Communities make the Difference”, which emphasises the invaluable contribution communities make in combatting the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The theme is in line with the National Wellness Campaign by the Department of Health called “Check Impilo”- a call to action for individuals to take responsibility for their health and wellness. 

Communities undeniably form the lifeblood of an effective response to AIDS and an important pillar of support. According to UNAIDS, communities - including peer educators, counsellors, civil society organisations, people living with HIV and affected by it - play a critical role in ensuring that the response to AIDS remains people-centred. Community leadership and advocacy also play a vital role in breaking down barriers to service delivery in the fight against AIDS. 

STATEMENT: CFCR WELCOMES PUBLICATION OF RULES FOR REMOVAL OF CHAPTER 9 HEAD

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On Tuesday, 26 November 2019, the National Assembly’s (NA) Rules Committee announced that it had agreed to Draft Rules to Regulate the Removal of Office Holders of Institutions Supporting Constitutional Democracy (the Rules). The Rules will govern the removal from office of heads of offices such as that of the Auditor-General and the Public Protector. 

The drafting of these Rules has been driven in earnest by the repeated calls for the removal of the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, by the official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, as well as civil society. The calls for her removal stem from multiple court findings against the Public Protector in her personal capacity, and against her Office. Of these, the most notable have been the ABSA/Bankorp matter, in which the Public Protector’s Report was set aside, and she was ordered to pay 15% of the South African Reserve Bank’s legal fees. More recently, she was ordered to pay 5% of the legal costs of each of the two applicants in the Estina Dairy case.

ARTICLE: 16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM 2019

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25 November marks the annual commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, as well as the commencement of the United Nation’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) campaign. This campaign is an annual movement aimed at galvanising action, raising awareness, and honouring and acknowledging powerful women’s movements whose unrelenting work seeks to create and foster safer environments for women and children, wherever they may find themselves. The 16 Days Campaign comes to an end on 10 December, which is also International Human Rights Day, when the world recognises the great strides that have been made in the protection and promotion of universal human rights. 

STATEMENT: WORLD CHILDREN'S DAY

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World Children’s Day is commemorated annually on 20 November to celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 1959. It is also the date when the UNGA adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1989. Thus, 2019 is a particularly special year as it marks 30 years of the CRC, which is the most widely adopted international agreement in history. 

This wide ratification speaks to the general consensus on the need to protect and do what is in the best interests of all children on the part of governments and humanity. In the last 30 years, monumental progress has been made in the arena of children’s rights across the world. Human rights advocacy has led to children living longer and healthier lives, with better access to safe water and nutrition. Despite these enormous milestones, far too many are still exposed to heinous human rights abuses. From female genital mutilation, human trafficking, child labour, child soldiers and famine, to poverty, hunger and poor or no access to education. As is usually the case, the poorest and most vulnerable in our society experience the worst of these human rights violations. 

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