On Nelson Mandela Day, 250 civil society organizations worldwide call on UN to investigate Israeli apartheid

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18 July 2023 – On the United Nations declared Nelson Mandela day, 250 civil society organizations, movement and networks worldwide, including the Palestinian-led BDS movement, marked the occasion by launching a new campaign with a statement calling on the UN to “investigate Israel’s regime of apartheid” as a necessary step to “dismantle apartheid.”

From trade and farmer unions to student organizations, from human rights organizations to faith based groups, millions of people have heeded the Palestinian call for the UN to act. Among the 250 organizations are the Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity, JUST – International Movement for a Just World, Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR), All India Kisan Sabha, Africians Rising and Amigos de la Tierra America Latina y Caribe (ATALC)  – Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean.

Recalling Mandela’s famous words, “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians,” the statement calls on Member States at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to support freedom for the Palestinians by shouldering the responsibility of reviving the UN Special Committee on Apartheid and “uniting to end 21st-century apartheid, regardless of where it occurs.” 

The signatories condemn the current Israeli government, “the most openly far-right, racist, fundamentalist, sexist, homophobic and corrupt administration in the state’s history,” citing the recent rise in “violence and settler-colonial oppression against Indigenous Palestinians” as a reason for the UNGA to take urgent and immediate action.

Decades ago, the UN’s Special Committee on Apartheid played a pivotal role in ending apartheid in South Africa. By monitoring and exposing apartheid policies and building mechanisms under international law to suppress and punish this crime against humanity, the Committee proved its effectiveness.

In the last few years, a consensus has emerged among international, Palestinian, and Israeli human rights groups, as well as UN experts, heads of some states, parliamentarians, and diplomats worldwide that Israel is perpetrating the crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people. 

Saleh Hijazi, Apartheid-Free Policy Coordinator with the BDS movement, said:

The UNGA must revive existing mechanisms to ensure that the crime of apartheid becomes part of history and to hold Israel accountable for imposing this criminal regime against Indigenous Palestinians. The recognition of apartheid as a crime against humanity, coupled with the global solidarity expressed through the cutting of links of state, corporate, and institutional complicity in apartheid, has paved the way to freedom and democracy for the people in Southern Africa. It has fueled their ongoing struggle to end economic inequalities. 

Although the dismantlement of apartheid in South Africa stands as a vital milestone in the global struggle against racism, discrimination, and colonial oppression, as Nelson Mandela once said, it remains ‘incomplete’ without fully abolishing apartheid wherever it exists, starting with Palestine.

We urge governments, civil society organizations, human rights advocates, and people of conscience to join hands in this struggle, urging the UNGA to heed the Palestinian call for freedom, justice and equality. Apartheid has no place in the world.

Notes to editors: 

  • Read the full letter on the Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Movement website.

  • The BDS movement contributes to the struggle for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality by nonviolently pressuring Israel and holding it accountable to international law to end its regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.



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