Griffith Lecture 2019


Thank you very much. Good evening
everyone. Thank you Vice Chancellor for your kind introduction. You know I have
many reasons for coming here, It’s a wonderful country, wonderful city, but I’m
also here to celebrate Griffith University getting its first woman Vice
Chancellor, so congratulations. I’m really highly appreciative that so
many so many of you have come to attend this lecture because I’ve been
asked to address you on the challenges that we currently face, all over the
world, against the advancement of human rights and the rule
of law. So bear with me as I give you the gloomy picture but I want to end up to
explain why I remain positive and why I feel it’s important for young people to
be inspired. I love this Integrity 20 program with its focus on for tomorrow
and that’s the future of young people. Wherever I’ve engaged, you know I’m now retired for five years, but you’ll never believe – I didn’t believe – that I’ll be
running around the world, but mainly invited to speak to young people. They’re so concerned, what can we do? What can we do to make a change? Is what they constantly
ask. So in a world that is struggling with international challenges, today’s
realities I believe compound the challenges at no time have human rights
and the rule of law come under more scrutiny than today and so before I set
out the litany of setbacks out of respect for promoting a better tomorrow
I thought I would change tactic and begin by answering the question often addressed to me about what makes you remain positive?
So I believe that growing up under apartheid in South Africa where all of
us struggled every day for a better tomorrow profoundly influenced me and many others like me to care and act for victims of
human rights depravations wherever they are. As you know racism in South Africa was entrenched in the laws, no other country
had it institutionalized in the laws, it was the rule of the law and people who
were not white were conferred inferior status and denied civil, political, social
and economic rights and apartheid as you know reigned for more than a century.
These laws were so effectively enforced that I did not believe that I would see
change to democracy in my lifetime. At schools and universities we were
compelled to accept uncritically, apartheid laws and racial discrimination
as the norm, the standard. And so throughout the dark years of apartheid, I
was firmly convinced of the need to be guided by a system of universally
recognised norms and standards of what is right and justice and so I looked up
to the UN declaration on human rights as that standard. And people all
over the world contributed to establishing the universal standards, so
did Australia. And that is why it is pretty scary when I hear members of your
government speaking against globalisation. I mean globalisation is not perfect but if he’s talking about standards yeah we
need the universal standards as our guide and of course I was able to study
law and become a lawyer largely because my high school and the poor community in
which I grew up said, ‘here’s a girl who has potential.’ And the community raised funds to send me to university and this is another
lesson to me how you know every adult should be watching out for for young
children and this community could have focused just on their own children or
their needs but they were generous enough to send one of them to university,
so I was the first from from that community and my high school to get to
university. The classes for non Europeans, as we were called, were not held at the
main campus at the University of Natal but in a segregated place, which was a
potato warehouse. And yet this warehouse did more than sell potatoes, it witnessed
student activism and courageous protest. We even had these guilty police fire at
us in the policing of this warehouse but many black freedom fighters, as well
as lawyers and academics emerge from this warehouse. And I became politically aware of the situation of others once I qualified as the lawyer in 1967, my
search for employment met with many obstacles. White lawyers whom I
approached asked whether my father was a businessman and whether I could bring in
wealthy clients and they were not impressed when I said my father was a
bus driver. They said you’re a woman, what if you
fall pregnant? As if pregnancies is a bar and they said they cannot permit
white secretaries to take instructions from a black person. So you see I was a
victim of class, race and gender discrimination. So not having much choice
I started my own law practice and that was ridiculed. I was told ‘you’re very
presumptuous to think a woman can manage a law firm.’ So that law firm continued
for 30 years and my husband soon joined me but I always remained the principle
of that law firm. Throughout my or our practice as lawyers
I was not allowed to enter a judge’s chambers because I was black and it made
no difference that I was as a lawyer and officer of the court and the first time
I entered a judge’s chambers at the court was when I became a judge and that
was for a short time but I was the first black woman attorney to be appointed to
serve as the judge. And it was early in the morning one day in January 1995, the telephone in my kitchen rang and this woman said, ‘hold on for the
president’. And I thought, ‘yeah, it’s probably my brother playing the fool.’ And
then came the well-known voice with President Mandela saying, ‘congratulations
on your appointment as a judge. It gives me great joy.’ It gives him great joy. I mean he could have said many things to
me. He could have said I’m trying you out, you know I’m trusting you, see that
you do your job properly. So that’s why I will never forget his words. I had not
met him before so when I heard his voice I foolishly lost my tongue and all I
could say is thank you, thank you, thank you. My law practice mostly involved representing victims of unjust laws, human rights
activists, opponents of apartheid and mainly on a pro bono basis really with some funding for the major trials from a law firm in London. We’re not supposed to
say who the clients of the law firm were because the international legal aid and
defense fund was also banned in South Africa. In 1973 I was visiting, consulting
my clients on Robben Island prison and they told me about the fact that they
didn’t know their rights. One of them who’s a lawyer was sentenced to six months isolation and spare diet because he had presented a petition to
the Officer Commanding of Robben Island prison and they wanted
me to do something, bring a court application or something. But they
warned me that Nelson Mandela and other ANC inmates on Robben Island did not
favour this approach of going to the courts because you don’t win cases in
apartheid courts and we didn’t have a Constitution, you know, how do you
approach a court to spell out rights. But we did it and we won that action and
the court, using common law. Years later I marvelled that we never used the word
human rights, didn’t refer to the UN, but we relied on common law. So it is
possible sometimes, when something has not been done before, to look for the
crack and argue that the court in Cape Town ordered that prisoners are not
property of the state, they have rights like everyone else and they have a right
to a lawyer. If there’s any allegation that they broke the prison regulations,
they must be given a copy of those regulations so they will know what’s the
rights and responsibilities. Studying was a privilege, said the court, but smoking
was a right so they they could have cigarettes. The most important thing is
they couldn’t be re-punished in prison. You know that case was more recently
used to establish that prisoners have the right to vote, we followed the
Canadian Supreme Court. And you know one of the thorns in the flesh that led to
Brexit in the UK was that the European Court of Human Rights asked the English
courts to review this position because they don’t acknowledge that prisoners
have the right to vote in the UK, so sometimes you do a little case, you have
small benefits, and then you look at the bigger benefits of this in the future. Of course I couldn’t ask President Mandela, ‘why me?’ Of course I asked it inside my head but that’s the kind of thing that women do,
you know. Why me, do you think I can do this job? Now as a young lawyer you know
how was I practicing under these terrible laws, apartheid laws? In fact the
security laws put the onus on the accused person to prove his or her
innocence, it just turned everything around. So of course the laws were
manifestly bad and unjust and when Mandela was first indicted in 1962 on a
minor charge he pointed out the inherent potential for injustice in an apartheid
court and he refused to plead and the magistrate said this, ‘after all is said
and done, there is only one court and that is the white man’s court. There is no other court.’ So you see why I never expected change in my lifetime. The
challenge then was how to defend ourselves in such an obviously unjust
court? I was convinced that we lawyers should not defend the trial in the
traditional way, in isolation of that political reality, which was that the
courts were also in the business of upholding and implementing apartheid
laws and helping to protect the favoured community against “swart gevaar”, the black danger. So we had to look for new approaches outside the box and confront
the widespread use of torture by the security police against suspects and
witnesses. The law authorised indefinite detention and excluded the jurisdiction
of courts, so no court can rule on the validity of the detention or order the
release of the person. So no-one brought any court application challenging this
law, the Terrorism Act, until my husband Gaby Pillay was detained and this was
1972-73. At that time more than 50 detainees had died under mysterious circumstances while in detention. So it
was a very scary situation for all of us, very hard for me – on the one hand feeling
deeply emotional and weeping as a wife, but knowing that I have to do something
as a lawyer. I had his power of attorney so I brought
the application on his behalf. You know that so many detainees came rushing to
me after that, ‘why can’t you do for us what you’ve done for your husband?’ Well I
had his power of attorney. Now most witnesses in the courtroom, out of fear, declined to testify about ill treatment and then defence counsel did not allow
their clients to give evidence about what happened to them about their
torture because they were sure that they will not be believed on that ground,
which means they won’t be believed on the merits. So I mean you may think this is weird but I was a very young lawyer and I had to fight battles with very senior, senior counsel who took that decision not to
touch torture. So I brought this application and
attached to the application were the affidavits of the 12 people who were
facing trial, each one described what had happened to them. They and all been
detained at the same time. And I was too afraid to go to the court and face the
security police because they threatened me over that application because I was
accusing them of using torture when, you know, they said they never ever do that. Some of the court order was that they should not use unlawful methods of
interrogation and we warned that we warned that and the judge, who had been a
prisoner of war during the World War II and was a prisoner at Tobruk, added
his own clause because he said his family didn’t know where he was being held, so
he ordered that Gabby, my husband, must be held where he is. But I mean none of us
had access to him. But a better thing is he said, ‘what’s the point in
me granting an interdict against unlawful interrogation if the detainee
doesn’t know about it?’ And so he ordered the sheriff to go and serve
that order on him. Now my husband said that you know he suddenly one day they
put in clean blankets and then the next day, the cells are open and the Sheriff
just flung these this court order down and this strong husband of mine just
wept. They never touched him after that. So as I said many people approached
me to say, ‘can you do that for our families?’ You know there’s an
unintended consequence of this application that I made, I didn’t succeed
in getting him released, of course, which was my goal. But soon after this
application, Steven Biko, the Black Consciousness leader was killed under
torture and so the anti-apartheid movement that had observer status at the
United Nations finally had documented evidence of
torture, these affidavits that I filed. So they asked the UN General
Assembly to consider drafting Convention Against Torture and that’s it, that is my
minor contribution to getting this UN Convention Against Torture. Now
as we all know there is an absolute prohibition against torture under this
convention and these principles impose universally binding obligations upon all
governments. In my capacity as president of the Advisory Council of the Nuremberg
Principles Academy, I recently had the opportunity to see video footage in
courtroom 600, that’s where the Nazis were tried – it’s very moving to sit in
that courtroom, by the way – and I saw video footage of the American
administered Tokyo military tribunals of 1945-1946 and this was American run, as I
said, and one of the main charges against the Japanese generals was torture by
waterboarding of American prisoners of war for which they received the death
penalty. Now you fast-forward to the U.S. position on torture today, in the words
of its president, during his 2016 primary season debate, President Trump stated – I
quote – “the US should hit the kin of enemy fighters. You have to take out their
families when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. Don’t tell me torture doesn’t work, torture works. OK folks I think we should
go stronger than waterboarding, there’s chopping off heads, believe me, we should
go much stronger.” So this is a chilling reminder of the challenge we face that
all the gains of human rights are being reversed. Not only by leaders such as him but by
others. So let me return back to my life experience. In his first address to
parliament, as president of democratic South Africa, Mandela said I quote “the
memory of a history of division and hate injustice and suffering, inhumanity of
person to person should inspire us to celebrate our own demonstration of the
capacity of human beings to progress and go forward.” So you see I juxtaposed two leaders and what they say. Which one would you like to follow? So this is the
kind of enlightened leadership that we had in South Africa, we embrace change
for a society based on values and human rights within the family of nations,
that’s what our Constitution says. Apartheid also ended because of
condemnation by the international community and by the collective action
by civil society across the world. We were deeply moved and inspired by the
stand taken against apartheid sports for instance by Australian fans and players
who refused to play apartheid-era rugby and cricket. It was such tremendous news
that these white teams came in and they were the the fields were occupied by
protestors, I mean when one protestor, not necessarily the favourite thing to do
today because there’s so much violence accompanying it, but we were inspired by
that. Principled objection to racism in sports first began here in
Australia and soon spread to the rest of the world, leading to the
expulsion of the whites-only South African teams, not only from Australians
sport but the Olympic Games also. So today, I meet people who would have been
5 or 6 years of age then who tell me that they stopped eating
South African oranges in support of United Nations sanctions against
apartheid South Africa so these are the small acts and they all add up to
collective action. In my lifetime I would say I have I have lived through
hopelessness and I’ve lived through change, this experience leaves me with
the firm belief that people inherently support human rights justice and the
rule of law and that collective action by governments, the private sector and
civil society is the way to overcome violations. I think we have probably all
found ourselves reflecting on the lessons Nelson Mandela, moral giant that
he was, not only for South Africa but for the world, taught us. Among them that real
equality admits no exceptions, that to enjoy freedom we must not only cast off
our own chains but respect the rights of others. Mandela was a great believer in
education as a tool against prejudice and hatred. This is why I’m so delighted
that Griffith University had a special full-day session for high school
students, what a great start. I’m gonna carry that as a good example back to the
many countries where I’m called to speak. So Mandela said people are not born
hating one another he said, they learn they learn to hate. And if people can
learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the
human heart than his opposite, than its opposite. Now unfortunately the opposite
is currently in the hearts of a few powerful world leaders and their
utterances have hate speech and harmful prejudices, threaten to reverse the gains
of the human rights movement. The challenges we face today have been
described by the special rapporteurs, that’s the UN’s largest body of independent human rights experts – there are many Australian academics who have served as special rapporteurs or are still in
there. And for this big body, who are able to go into many countries and analyse
the challenges much better than I can, to issue a joint statement on this
subject I feel then merits me quoting them. They said, “a chill wind is
blowing through much of the world and the very notion of human rights is under
increasing attack. So-called populist movements are invoking nationalism and
traditionalism to justify racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic and other
forms of blatant discrimination taking advantage also of the current economic
climate and security threats.” Hate speech aiming to incite violence,
hostility and discrimination is dramatically on the rise, as is violence
against women, children, ethnic religious and belief groups, persons with
disabilities, sexual minorities, migrant and minority groups. Inequality then is
growing dramatically and democratic institutions are being systematically
undermined. More and more governments are turning increasingly to intrusive
technologies which systematically embed and exploit the means of mass
surveillance, which threaten a whole range of fundamental human rights. In
many parts of the world, these assaults on human rights are being reinforced by
attacks on the human rights movement itself. The space for civil society
without which there can be no enduring and meaningful respect for rights has
been effectively closed down by many governments. International treaties such
as the International Criminal Court statute, the Rome Statute, are being
denounced. Funding for human rights bodies is shrinking or a major power has
withdrawn funding supporting human rights. Attacks on the integrity of
monitoring mechanisms are increasing, such as the UN treaty bodies, the
10 treaty bodies that watch out for implementation, and any form of
international solidarity is rejected as a threat to national interests. In the Human Rights Council we have space you know just a few minutes for
NGOs to address the entire council. They just have a minute of time to
address and some of them gave up their time to ask for a moment of silence to
be held for this delegate, NGO person, who was coming from China to participate in
the Human Rights Council. She was detained on the way and she died in
detention and these NGOs wanted to have a moment of silence to remember her. That
went into huge debate, China sets a dangerous precedent to allow that. My
democratic South Africa supported that. So that’s what I mean you see how
insidious it is, how open they are in adopting these anti human rights
positions against human rights defenders. So to these concerns I must add are the
factors, the directions this week which the UN Secretary General Guterres made to the treaty bodies to reduce their sessions because of lack of funds, and withdrawals
from the International Criminal Court, where I served as an appeals judge ,and
withdrawal from international agreements, such as Paris climate accords, which we
know will affect all of us you know, the planet knows no boundaries. And the pushback on reproductive rights at the Committee on the Status of Women
and in the UN Security Council over review of Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security this is an instance, you can guess which country, it’s an instance of
one country’s prejudices being imposed on other members of the Security Council
and on us, the world. There’s a lot been written on how the
new administration in of the United States is handling these pushbacks at
every event and session, not only before the Security Council. The United States
led by a president who shows little respect for the rule of law and for
human rights, no longer exercises a leadership role and this vacuum has
created opportunities for state actors to flex their geopolitical muscle,
stepping forward and rolling back accountability gains of the past 25 years. And so what was once a golden age of justice and accountability with
all these international courts trying political leaders for serious crimes, we
now have a dark age of the strongman, steeped in ignorance and fear of justice
and accountability. Many reactionary political leaders are taking the lead
from President Trump to to resist international cooperation. President Duterte of the Philippines,
who is using his military to carry out extrajudicial killings of suspected drug
drug dealers numbering and still counting 25,000, has withdrawn his country from the Rome Statute and so has the
president of Burundi withdrawn from the ICC after he gained power, following massive violence against the opposition. So the
these are some of the alarming steps of pushing back on treaties and agreements,
remember that all these treaties and agreements were drawn up after
tremendous push by civil society actors. You can’t tell me that governments woke
up one day and decided, ‘oh you know we should be more accountable
internationally.’ No, it was pressure from civil society, in fact it was the demand
of civil society that we have a position such as the High Commissioner for Human
Rights. So the trend then is that many states
are asserting their respective national interests spurning multilateralism and
global governance at a time when global cooperation is crucial for urgent and
emerging issues, such as the safety of the planet against climate change and
degradation of the environment and checks and balances on social media so
that you and I will know what’s genuine news and fake news. Youth in developing
countries, including my own country, are incensed that they are being left behind in a world racing into the fourth
Industrial Revolution and their their priorities, which are poverty, inequality
and unemployment, lack of access to health and education, that these problems
are not being addressed by the international community. And so I would say we must join the call of these 58 UN experts to governments
to recognise that a world which repudiates fundamental human rights
values, retreats from established standards and undermines the
International Human Rights institutions is a world which will be less secure,
more vulnerable to devastating conflicts and utterly incapable of protecting the
rights of vast numbers of people who do not happen to look or think like those
in power. I would say that every country has an interest in defending a common
set of values and a norm-based principled structure without selectivity
and so it’s a mistake to place the collective interest above short-term,
geopolitical considerations and narrow definition of national interests. So I
think my time is racing past so I did wanted to say a little bit more to
answer what students say, ‘well you know what have you done and what what can we
do?’ What inspires me is because of civil society pressure there we now have
three strong men facing trial Omar al-Bashir, former president of Sudan, now
indicted – he’s now in prison on charges of corruption and money laundering and
we have former president of my own country, Jacob Zuma, facing trial for
corruption and Najib Razak, former prime minister of Malaysia, has been charged on
42 counts of corruption and money laundering so the power still lies in
civil society action and I’d heard a great statement made by the speaker this
morning, Raj Patel, who said that you know our power as civil society actors is
underestimated, so we should use that it would be my message. I just want to
mention that because I had the power as the International judge, I was able to address things that were never addressed before, where women and
children who were raped and sexually violated in wars and conflict never saw
justice because that was seen as collateral damage, I saw some military
journals two soldiers actually saying, ‘you know what, you can have those yellow
women if you fight properly,’ and that’s the lens with which they saw this, not a
crime. And so I was in the very first decision that spelt out genocide in the
Rwandan genocide and we found that rape and sexual violence against Tutsi women
constituted genocide because the intention was to destroy that group by
raping their women. To do that I had to create a new definition of rape and
sexual violence because there was none that was universally accepted on the
international law, your country, my country, you know all of us who inherited
the British common law system had rape happening when when a man’s penis enters
the vagina and yet in the former Yugoslavia, it was men and boys who were
raped and sexually violated more. So we we then came out with a gender-neutral
definition of rape, that it’s the invasion of a person of a sexual nature
under coercive circumstances, so I’m happy to say that that definition has
been incorporated for the International Criminal Court and my own country used
that definition to order parliament to come up with the gender-neutral
definition. This was the case where a little boy had been sodomized but the
sentence that the magistrate could pass was very small, whereas if it had been a
girl child he could pass a bigger sentence and it occurred to him that the
suffering of the victim is the same. So he picked it up, it went to the
Constitutional Court and they followed this definition and so it’s very
important then to understand that international law does help to influence
domestic law with regard to standards. And the other
decision that I’m pleased about is the media case in Rwanda, where we found
guilty of genocide the owners of the radio station, the journalists who spread
this propaganda of hatred against the Tutsis. Now if it hadn’t been for that
radio station, killings would not have spread throughout the country and
so there you are. It was ah it took, people said, a lot of courage to convict
individuals who had not themselves done any actual killing but just by the use
of words, promoted hate speech. We heard witnesses tell us that these are
utterances of the radio station were like little drops of petrol that was
dropped through and across the country and soon the whole country was on fire. In the International Criminal Court what was new there is that we spelt out the
right of victims to participate in proceedings. This is a huge advance from
the common law system which which which descended to us from aristocrats being
the lawyers and the judges and ordinary people didn’t have a voice in that
courtroom. So once again this is very innovative provision that we spelt out,
which advances human rights. In as High Commissioner for Human Rights, I
obviously met many challenges. One of the first things was an objection from the
then Secretary of State of the United States, Condoleezza Rice, to my being
appointed as High Commissioner. Apparently she told the Secretary
General she will influence the Human Rights office with her idea of the right
to abortion and so I got this call from the Secretary General’s office saying
that they’ve given an assurance to the Secretary of State that I will not do
that and and they said, ‘can you just give us ah, just sign an undertaking on a piece
of paper, we won’t use it, we’ll just put it in the drawer, so can you just send that to us fast’ and of course I refused and and and
progressively there was a time when even the Secretary General said, ‘now I understand you judges, you stick to principles.’ You know they’re all supposed to stick to
principles. Thank you. Another incident was that the Foreign Minister
of Iran wanted me to pay a visit to Iran, you know most times they don’t want the
human rights person there. You know over six years, China couldn’t find a date
when I could come there. So here was Iran, asking me to come there and I said, ‘well
as long as you know that I will not be wearing headscarf.’ The the president of
Switzerland, a woman, had to wear a headscarf because they wouldn’t let her
into the country to hold meetings and she said she listened to advisers and
did so and she had huge criticism from Switzerland and and this is what I said,
and the Secretary General said, ‘why don’t you just buy a French scarf and put it on
your head and go there?’ And I to explain to him, I represent the United Nations I’m
telling everybody else about values and standards and this is discrimination
against women, besides the law is bad so I didn’t go. That doesn’t happen very
often in the United Nations, you have to listen to what the Secretary General says to
you. Some of the issues that never never came before the United
Nations because they were blocked by states is the LGBTI issue, never for 65 years.
And again and again I was told by ambassadors, mainly from Middle East and
Africa, do not go there, do not introduce any standards that are not
internationally accepted and when someone tells you, ‘don’t go there’ and
there’s something wrong with that advice, then I went there. Thank you. So it’s the first time that their rights were, we first started
with the study of violence and discrimination against the LGBTI
community and I would say in those big halls you know to all those ambassadors,
well tell me which of you condones violence and discrimination against
LGBTI people? And of course none of them is gonna say yes to that. And that’s how
we got that done and then gradually went on to the principle of equality. The
caste system, the victims of caste discrimination in India and other
countries were weeping because they could never get that on the agenda. India
would block it. So I see the Indian government and they said ‘caste is a
word unique to India, it doesn’t fit in anywhere else and that’s why it’s an
internal matter.’ I should not touch it. And I said to them,
‘you know what, you have to be generous now, you have to lend that word caste to
the international community, just like we lent the word apartheid to the world.’ And
that’s how we got cost addressed in the UN. So I’m keeping a beady eye, it says 28
now, is that seconds? Alright the other thing you should
know is the UN always operated in silos. The development people would not touch
human rights and the political department would not touch these two
issues. So they all operated in silos and when I became High
Commissioner I would say for instance, well I did say it to the the big body,
it’s called the CEB of leaders of all organisations including those that are
not in the UN, and I brought up the fact that in Tunisia, the UN’s report was that
development there was wonderful and yet a few days later a graduate set himself
alight because he can’t find a job, so who were the UN speaking to? They were
just not in touch with the ground. So many other examples, the High
Commissioner for Human Rights was blocked from setting up offices in in
various countries such as Myanmar but OHCHR, humanitarian affairs, had an office
there. And I said to the head of that organisation, ‘right now there are 20
women and girls who’ve been captured by the Myanmar soldiers and they’re being
kept as sex slaves. What are you doing about it? You are in the country. I’m not.’ And she said, ‘well her resident coordinator should have said something
about it,’ and I said, ‘well he’s probably waiting for you to tell him to do
something about it.’ So these were the internal push until everybody accepted
that the UN the United Nations is a norm based body everybody should be
implementing the UN standards. One of the outcomes was called the Rights Upfront
Policy. Previously when there was a conflict in the country, the first thing
that you – well maybe I’m wrong I shouldn’t say the first thing but I sat
as a judge on the Rwanda tribunal and heard witnesses weep because the UN
suddenly left them. The UN could see there were killers surrounding the
school but they pulled out just at that precise moment because they were ordered from headquarters to to get out of there and 4,000 people, refugees hiding
in that school were killed that day so I came with that experience and saw that
this is what the UN does then, they pull out fast, pick up their own staff, some
foreigners who are there, and out they go. And we saw this happening in Sri Lanka
you will recall where people wept so that policy was then changed to how to
stay and protect and that policy was first tested in South Sudan where there
was ethnic violence between the president’s clan and the opposition
leader Riek Machar’s clan and when the one group attacked the other, the victim
group fled into the UN compound and and the traditional UN would have closed the
gates against them. This time they opened the gates and saved 90,000 lives. So
inside the UN, it’s important that we think outside the box and not just
follow traditional ways. So of course I have many other stories, I see six zeros
there so I should keep quiet here. It is possible for all of us to fight to
preserve our culture and values. You have it here and every country I’ve been to
as High Commissioner, 79 countries and now I’m still traveling, there’s such a
divide between ordinary people who want justice, who want accountability and
governments who block that. Particularly wanting immunity for Heads of State and
senior officials. That’s a reason why they pulling out of the International
Criminal Court. I am really heartened by some of the judicial decisions we now
see, such as the House of Lords decision, Chief Justice Brenda Hall delivered the
decision on Brexit and Johnson saying no one is above the law. It’s such an
important message that politicians have to hear. Now my final comment is I was in
Norway and friends with the Norwegian judge and she said that when this
accused you remember he shot and killed 88 or 89 people, young people, and he
was on trial and he said to the court, ‘yes, I did it, give me the death sentence,
I deserve it.’ And the Norwegian public said, ‘oh no no
no you would not do that to our values.’ So he will he has multiple life
sentences. Right now there’s such a high level of gender-based violence in South
Africa that the president of South Africa had to stay away from the UN in
order to deal with gender-based violence. How he handled it is of course peculiar
but you should hear you should have heard some of the emotional calls coming
from mainly ANC supporters, asking for death sentence to be brought back. One woman MP said we should have chemical castration. So these are also
the threats that are to panic and emotions often fed by fake media, often
fed by politicians and their hate speech that people seem to be swinging
backwards. Bring back the death penalty and bring back this cruel inhuman
treatment. So much is left not only to governments but to all of us to
safeguard what we have. So I will stop there and thank you so much for your
attention.