As South Africa celebrates 25 years of democracy in 2019, we are reminded of our history of struggle against oppression and tyranny through important national days like Human Rights Day.
Human Rights Day commemorates a historic and poignant moment in South Africa’s history. Nearly six decades on from the Sharpeville Massacre, South Africa can stand proud in its commitment to upholding human rights and espousing its culture at every level of society.
At the University of Pretoria (UP), we call on staff and students to reaffirm their individual and our national commitment to this culture of human rights.
We are very proud of the work of our Centre for Human Rights in the Faculty of Law which is globally renowned for the work they do in producing human rights practitioners from across the African continent and diaspora.
Institutionally, we reaffirmed UP’s commitment to human rights earlier this year, when we dedicated ourselves to giving even more support to the Disability Unit. This is to ensure that our campuses and learning materials are as accessible as possible to all students and staff in order to allow persons with disabilities the dignity, independence and ease of access at UP in order to achieve their academic and career goals.
As the world seemingly regresses with an ever-increasing wave of populism and support for divisive,hateful and discriminatory politics, bolstered by inflammatory rhetoric against people on the basis of religion, gender, race and sexuality; it is our view at UP that these views and this oppressive culture have no place at our university. Instead, it is our duty as a university community to actively seek to affirm each other’s humanity through our research and community engagement.
Let us reflect on the importance of this day and work together to ensure that we imbue all our actions with tolerance, respect and understanding so that future generations continue to appreciate the freedoms that a culture of human rights brings with it.
Professor Tawana Kupe
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of Pretoria