What was  the role of the United Nations in the campaign against Apartheid in South Africa?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the United Nations played a significant and symbolic role in recognizing how the South African practice of apartheid had to come to an end.  The 1973 United Nations International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid helped to bring the issue of apartheid to the world's attention.  From that point on, the United Nations was one of the supreme leaders in trying to bring the world's attention to what was happening in South Africa.  The United Nations helped to bring about a majority of lawmakers in the United States of the 1980s to pass laws that created sanctions against South Africa.  The United Nation's role in the campaign against South African apartheid was one of continual resistance.  Recognizing that its real and substantive political action was in trying to convince nations to change their policies towards South Africa, the United Nations was quite effective in bringing external pressure from outside South Africa to end its practices.  At the same time, I think that the work of the United Nations helped to bring validity to the internal resistance to apartheid that was developing within South Africa.  In this light, the United Nations ended up playing a rather vital role in the campaign against South African apartheid.

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