We stand here today to salute the United Nations Organization and its Member States, both singly and collectively, for joining forces with the masses of our people in a common struggle that has brought about our emancipation and pushed back the frontiers of racism. - Nelson Mandela

The United Nations —
Partner in the Struggle Against Apartheid

The elimination of South Africa’s system of legalized racial discrimination known as apartheid (“apart-ness” in the Afrikaans language of the descendants of the first Dutch settlers) was on the agenda of the United Nations from its inception. On 22 June, 1946, the Indian government requested that the discriminatory treatment of Indians in the Union of South Africa be included on the agenda of the very first session of the General Assembly.

In the decades that followed the world body would contribute to the global struggle against apartheid by drawing world attention to the inhumanity of the system, legitimizing popular resistance, promoting anti-apartheid actions by governmental and non-governmental organizations, instituting an arms embargo, and supporting an oil embargo and boycotts of apartheid in many fields.

Official Emblem for International Anti Apartheid Year - 1978

official emblem for International Anti-Apartheid Year

Resolution 32/105 B (PDF PDF document) adopted 14 December 1977 — The General Assembly proclaimed the year begining on 21 March 1978 as the International Anti-Apartheid Year.

Passbook that the South African Blacks are required to carry.

photographic reproduction of the gold medal

11 October 1978 — The General Assembly holds a special meeting to observe International Anti-Apartheid Year. In the course of the meeting, gold medals were presented to 7 persons for distinguished service against apartheid.

Key Dates in the UN Campaign Against Apartheid*

*With contribution from Enuga S. Reddy, Former UN Assistant Secretary-General, Principal Secretary, UN Special Committee Against Apartheid and Director, UN Centre Against Apartheid.

Apartheid in South Africa

Apartheid in South Africa

The UN, Mandela & the Struggle Against Apartheid

Looking back at the struggle against apartheid and the campaign for Mandela's release in which the United Nations played an important role.

Mandela addresses the Special Committee Against Apartheid in the General Assembly Hall about his fight against the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

Haysom worked very closely with Mandela. Haysom himself suffered under apartheid and was detained in the 1970s.