Magazine article UNESCO Courier

UNESCO and the Elimination of Apartheid

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

UNESCO and the Elimination of Apartheid

Article excerpt

UNESCO drew up a programme for the elimination of apartheid in the 1950s. In fact, it was in reaction to studies carried out within this programme, which were being circulated by the Insitute of Race Relations in South Africa, that South Africa decided to withdraw from UNESCO in 1955.

In 1965, at the request of the UN Special Committee against Apartheid, UNESCO initiated a programme of social science research to elucidate the effects of apartheid and to produce reliable and objective information on what was actually happening in South Africa. The publication Apartheid, Its effects on Education, Science, Culture and Information (1967, revised edition 1972) was the first in a series of works that UNESCO has produced over the years on the problems of apartheid in South Africa and Namibia. Other studies deal inter alia with the impact of apartheid on social science research, the falsification of history, the influence of apartheid policies on news reporting, anti-development in the so-called bantustans, the effects of emergency rule on education, information and culture, and the dynamics of race and class in an apartheid society.

UNESCO has also undertaken to mobilize the intellectual and academic community, artists, creators, media professionals and educationalists in various countries.

A UNESCO International Meeting of University Researchers held in Beijing, China, from 1 to 4 September 1986 drew upo a Five-Year Research Plan on Apartheid. As a follow-up to the recommendations of this meeting, several international working groups of scholars were convened to reflect on problems of apartheid: one on the economy and apartheid in co-operation with the University of the West Indies (in Kingston, Jamaica, 21 to 28 April 1989); one on women, apartheid and options for a post-apartheid society (in Caracas, Venezuela, 19 to 21 September 1989); and one on apartheid and culture (in Dakar, Senegal, 27 to 30 November 1989). Problems encountered by the Front-Line States were examined during a sub-regional workshop organized under contract with the Zimbabwe Institute of Development Studies on the effects of destabilization policies of South Africa in the fields of education, science and culture (in Harare, Zimbabwe, 20 to 24 February 1989).

Over the years, UNESCO has likewise provided technical and material assistance, through the African National Congress and the Pan Africanist Congress, to the development of educational structures and programmes for refugees in asylum countries and for training key personnel.

In 1989, UNESCO adopted a Special Project which, while continuing to focus on the eradication of apartheid, also has the longer-term objective of reflecting on and helping the people of South Africa to prepare the boundations for a future apartheid-free, democratic society. In order to contribute to reflection on the needs and priorities of an apartheid-free society, three major meetings were convened during 1991.

1. A Workshop on Human Rights Issues for a Post-Apartheid South Africa was organized jointly by UNESCO and the African Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights in Banjul, The Gambia, from 18 to 21 June 1991.

Participants at the Workshop, while noting certain positive developments, pointed out the shortcomings of on-going legislative reforms. …

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