‘We the People of the United Nations’: The UN and the Global Campaigns Against Apartheid

  • Anna KoniecznaEmail author
Part of the St Antony's Series book series (STANTS)


This chapter analyses the relationship between the United Nations and the global mobilisation against apartheid. It suggests that we should move the perspective from the power hierarchies to democratic process of the organisation. Only this perspective will allow us to re-asses the role of the organisation in bringing apartheid to the end. The General Assembly rather than Security Council should be the main focus in this regard. Through the activity of the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid, an action-orientated body, who progressively expanded the scope of its responsibilities, the organisation was pivotal to the emergence of the international campaign against apartheid. From the late 1960s, it launched an information campaign on apartheid, then brought about the coordination of anti-apartheid networks before developing its own worldwide campaigns. At the same time, anti-apartheid organisations proved to be influential in the fulfilment of the aims of the UN itself. On the one hand, they translated norms into specific actions and discourse. On the other, they acted as channels through which the UN could disseminate information about apartheid, monitor the activity of member states with regard to apartheid before becoming an important element in the enforcement mechanisms. The relationship between the organisation and the non-state actors was complex and negotiated.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ParisFrance

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