The Birth of the Bill of Rights
South Africa's first, interim Constitution and Bill of rights was the result of initial discussions at the Convention for a Democractic South Africa (CODESA) and, after its collapse, the negotiations of the Multi-party Negotiating Forum which were completed at the end of 1993.
The interim Constitution was finally agreed upon and passed by the old Parliament as the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 200 of 1993 with a Bill of Rights enshrined in Chapter 3.
Once the new Constitution was drafted it had to be certified by the Constitutional Court to ensure that it complied with the constitutional Principles, before it could be passed as law by Parliament. Certain sections of the proposed new Constitution were referred back to the Constitutional Assembly by the Court for re-drafting, but by and large the provisions of the draft of Bill of rights remained intact.
Professor David McQuoid-Mason
The history of the association of human rights activists and artists in Durban and KwaZulu-Natal led to the establishment of the "Artists for Human Rights Trust" in March 1998.
The first seed for what was to become the Artists for Human Rights Trust germinated in an innovative collaborative project involving artists and human rights activists in KwaZulu-Natal. The prime movers behind the project were Coral Vinsen then a member of the Black Sash and the Durban Detainees Support Committee, and Lorna Ferguson, also of the Black Sash and then curator of the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg.
Their aim was to mark the 40th anniversary (on the 10th December 1988) of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly. To this end, a meeting was held early in 1988 to plan an art project to celebrate this special anniversary.
As a result, the "Artists for Human Rights" committee was formed, and two events planned to take place on the 10th December 1988 on International Human Rights Day at the Durban Exhibition Centre.
The first of the two events was an interactive art and human rights workshop for 400 teenagers of all race groups held on the morning of the 10th December. The second event organized by the committee, and. held in the afternoon of the same day, was an exhibition of the entries from the national art and photographic competition "Celebrating Human Rights".
The keynote speaker at the opening of the exhibition was Professor Hugh Corder of the Department of Public Law at the University of Cape Town. The Nationalist Party-led S.A. Government in 1948 had declined to sign the UDHR, so when these events took place forty years later, apartheid was firmly entrenched in South Africa.
This project was therefore intended to show that there were many South Africans who did not subscribe to the racist policies of their government, and instead wished to contribute to a society in which the rights of all were respected and upheld.
Selected artworks created by the young people at the workshop, were framed and hung two years later by Beryl Brink of Grassroots Gallery, for an exhibition on International Human Rights Day 1990.
In 1996, a committee convened by Coral Vinsen produced a limited edition print portfolio "Images of Human Rights". Terry Anne Stevenson had suggested the concept of a print portfolio and introduced master printer Jan Jordaan of the Fine Art Department of the Technikon Natal, who printed every work. Each of the 50 portfolios comprises 27 black and white relief prints, each print depicting one of the clauses of South Africa's new Bill of Rights.
The beautiful images were created by artists selected by regional art galleries and represented the nine provinces of South Africa. Judge Albie Sachs of the Constitutional Court opened the exhibition of the prints at the Durban Art Gallery on 10th December 1996.
Funds raised by the sale of the portfolios are channeled to the "Artists for Human Rights Trust", which is a legally constituted body, registered in March 1998, under whose aegis various art and human rights and arts-related projects are organized and funded.
The aims of the Artists for Human Rights Trust are: