UPR Media Briefing Note


Thursday, 31 May 2012 (Afternoon)
For use of information media; not an official record

State under review

South Africa
Represented by 20-member delegation headed by H.E Mr. Andries NEL, Deputy Minister of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development of South Africa.


To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the South Africa page on UPR website.

Troika *

Czech Republic, Maldives, Cameroon.

Opening statement by State under review

Key points from opening statement of State under review:

  • Most recommendations received during the first UPR of South Africa have been implemented, while others were being implemented;
  • In line with steps to address inequalities in the country, President Zuma identified five national priorities during his State of the Nation address in 2009; these are: creation of decent work and sustainable livelihood, education, health, rural development and food security, and the fight against crime and corruption;
  • The President declared 2012 as the year of infrastructure development to grow the economy and create decent jobs;
  • Since 1994, the national housing programme delivered 2.8 million new housing units and school enrolment rates have been increasing; by 2009, over 98% of children were enrolled in schools;
  • Concerning HIV/AIDS, access to HIV testing and treatment for mothers and children have improved recently resulting in more than 50% reduction in HIV transmission from mothers to child; there has also been a notable reduction in maternal mortality rate;
  • The Government declared 2011 as the year of job creation and implemented the New Growth Path strategy which resulted in the lowering of unemployment rates;
  • The Government also established, in 2009, the Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities;
  • Discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation was prohibited by the Constitution; the Government also set up a National Task Team to address cases of violence committed against LGBT persons;
  • Specialized institutions have also been set up to promote and protect cultural, linguistic, religious rights and practices of the people;
  • The Government also established the National Health Insurance with the objective to ensure universal health coverage;
  • The State was implementing a Gender Equity Strategy to assist the Government in reaching its target of a minimum of 50% women representatives at all levels of government;
  • The Comprehensive Rural development Strategy was in place to advance efforts in the area of the empowerment of rural women;
  • The 2011 National Victims of Crime Survey findings supported trends that showed a decrease in the South African crime levels; a number of mechanisms have also been set up to fight corruption;
  • The Government has pledged to do all in its power to sign and ratify, before the end of 2012, all outstanding instruments in the area of international human rights and humanitarian law.
(See full statement on the South Africa page on UPR Extranet)


In total, 77 States participated in the discussion:  32 HRC members and 45 observers  (Statements available on South Africa page on UPR Extranet).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • Efforts to provide universal health care and stteps taken to improve school enrolment rates;
  • The provision of ARV treatment for HIV/AIDS and the fight against HIV/AIDS in general;
  • The setting up of a national agency on youth development;
  • The promotion of regional human rights programmes;
  • The promulgation of the law on National Languages.

Issues and Questions

Main issues and questions raised by the Working Group:

  • Efforts to prevent and combat racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia;
  • Steps to address acts of violence against LGBT persons;
  • The Protection of State Information Bill and freedom of the press;
  • Measures to address violence against women and domestic violence;
  • Steps to uphold the rights of the migrants.


In total, States participating in the discussion posed a series of recommendations to South Africa. These included, among others: 

  • To step up efforts to prevent and combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, in particular against foreigners;
  • To enhance the prevention, investigation and prosecution of crimes of violence against individuals on the ground of their sexual orientation or gender identity and to publicly denounce such crimes;
  • To introduce an awareness campaign on discrimination based on sexual orientation; to ensure law enforcement officials were trained in this regard;
  • To adopt its Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill;
  • To ensure that efforts to eliminate HIV/AIDS-related discrimination will continue;
  • To maintain and build on HIV/AIDS prevention and cure and treatment programmes; to develop and implement plans to reduce physical and cost barriers to access HIV-related health services in rural areas;
  • To ratify the CESCR and its Optional Protocols;
  • To take measures to guarantee access to clean drinking water for all;
  • To ensure that the new Protection of State Information Bill fully complied with international human rights law so as to ensure the freedom of the press; to engage civil society, activists, NGOs and media to seek common ground on the Bill;
  • To further strengthen freedom of expression and freedom of the press;
  • To allocate more financial and other resources to ensure effective implementation of initiatives related to the advancement of women and gender equality;
  • To adopt and implement appropriate and efficient measures ensuring that all allegations of sexual violence against women and girls were properly registered, prosecuted and their perpetrators were duly convicted; To adopt a specific law for domestic violence;
  • To investigate all allegations of sexual exploitation abuse by South African peacekeepers and report the results back to UN peacekeeping officials;
  • To establish a mechanism that will offer victims of rape adequate support and provide them with redress;
  • To step up efforts to promulgate a law on human trafficking, in particular the Combatting and Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Bill;
  • To prohibit and sanction corporal punishment;
  • To step up efforts to fight against child mortality;
  • To eliminate barriers that impeded birth registration, including for children born from migrants and refugees; 
  • To consider ratifying the Third OP to the CRC on communication;
  • To establish an independent national monitoring mechanism in line with the CRPD; to ensure that basis services were provided for disabled persons in rural areas;
  • To ratify the Convention on the rights of migrants and members of their families; to establish policies and programmes designed to promote the integration of migrants into society;
  • To ratify ILO Convention 189 on decent work for domestic workers;
  • To ratify the Convention on enforced disappearances;
  • To define torture in national crime legislation, prosecute perpetrators of torture, and ratify the OPCAT.


Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on South Africa is scheduled to take place on Monday, 4 June 2012.

The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR.