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21/10/2020

Reasons to be Proud - #R2bP: Public Law Department Head at Nelson Mandela University, Prof Joanna Botha, has been invited to participate in an expert seminar of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The purpose of the seminar is to consider the elements of a draft additional protocol to the Convention and to prepare recommendations for new normative standards to combat all forms of contemporary racism, including incitement to racial and religious hatred. 

Prof Botha, together with legal experts from each region, will participate on a virtual basis in the seminar scheduled for 20 to 21 October 2020 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

The International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (the ICERD) was adopted in 1965 and entered into force in 1969.  It is the oldest of the nine core UN human rights treaties and commits all State parties (currently 176, including South Africa) to take steps to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination and to promote understanding amongst all races.

The Convention is particularly important from a South African perspective given our history of racial discrimination and the current problems of inter-group and racial hatred in our society, says Prof Botha.

The Chairperson–Rapporteur of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards for the ICERD has invited Prof Botha as one of 12 global experts to consider the elements of a draft additional protocol to the Convention to deal specifically with the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature.

The experts have been asked to consider the elements already proposed by the Member States to the ICERD and to provide critical insight to prepare a report for the Ad Hoc Committee at its 11th session before the UNHRC.

The consultation will address four key issues, namely dissemination of hate speech; racial cybercrime (social media networks and companies); all contemporary forms of discrimination based on religion or belief; and preventive measures to combat racist and xenophobic discrimination.

Prof Botha’s research addresses the regulation of hate crimes and hate speech and the prohibition of unfair discrimination in the South African context.

“The relevant standards for how our law should respond to incidents of hatred is informed by international law (the ICERD is an international convention and the jurisprudence developed thereunder creates international law) and various foreign jurisdictions.  My research is aligned with these standards and it is a privilege to be working with other global experts in the field by contributing to the development of international law”, she says.

“I am honoured to represent Nelson Mandela University, South Africa and Africa at an international level and particularly in relation to the development of UN standards on an issue which impacts so profoundly on the wellbeing of our society and the integrity of the South African constitutional democracy.

I hope to play a significant role in the deliberations and believe that my involvement will enhance the standing of my research, which focuses on an immensely current, but complex, issue – the intersection of freedom expression, equality and dignity, not only for the individual, but also for vulnerable groups, Prof Botha says.

Contact information
Prof Joanna Botha
Head of Department: Public Law
Tel: 27 41 504 2635
Joanna.Botha@mandela.ac.za