South Africa received its strongest-ever rebuke from the United Nations General Assembly on Friday (5 October 1973).
South Africa received its strongest-ever rebuke from the United Nations General Assembly on Friday (5 October 1973). It came shortly after a speech by General Yakubu Gowon, the Nigerian Head of State, calling on U.N. members effectively to isolate the "colonial and racist regimes" of Southern Africa. General Gowon, who is chairman of the Organisation of African Unity, was especially critical of the South African position on Namibia (South West Africa).
Later, on a proposal by Syria the General Assembly rejected by a 72:37 vote the credentials of the South African delegation. But the President, Senor Leopoldo Benites, ruled that the action be considered a "vehement condemnation" of South African policy and not a barrier to participation in the work of the Assembly. He therefore invited the South African Foreign Minister, Dr. Hilgard Muller to deliver his policy statement to the Assembly, after a delay of 24 hours caused by the African challenge on credentials. However, when Dr. Muller began to speak, members of about 100 delegations left the hall in a mass protest. Dr. Muller condemned them for under-mining "the dignity and status" of the Assembly.
SYNOPSIS: At the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, Nigerian Head of State General Yakubu Gowon launched a strong attack on South African policy.
After General Gowon's speech, Syrian delegate Mr. Haissam Elani suggested that the Assembly reject the credentials off the South African delegation. He proposed an amendment to the report of a Committee which recommended their approval.
But the Assembly President, Senor Leopoldo Benites, ruled that the resolution be considered as what he called "a vehement condemnation of South African policy. It should not, he added, bar South African participation in the work of the Assembly.
Senor Benites' ruling was based on the principle that a member state can be expelled from the United Nations only at the recommendation of the Security Council. Therefore though its delegation's credentials were turned down, South Africa can continue to function in the United Nations.
With the dispute settled, South African Foreign Minister Dr. Hilgard Muller was called on by the President to deliver his address. But as soon as he took the podium, members of about a hundred delegations walked out in protest. Dr. Muller referred the their action in speech.