7 Afr. J. Int'l & Comp. L. 329 (1995)
The Premable of the United Nations Charter: The Contribution of Jan Smuts

handle is hein.journals/afjincol7 and id is 341 raw text is: THE PREAMBLE OF THE UNITED NATIONS
CHARTER: THE CONTRIBUTION OF JAN SMUTS
CHRISTOF HEYNS*
I. INTRODUCTION
While South Africa is in the process of taking its seats in the international
organisations tasked with supervising the protection of human rights, it is perhaps
worth considering the central role which that country has played in the develop-
ment of the United Nations human rights machinery.
One part of this role has been as an active and respected participant in the
process of setting up the system; the other part has been the country's position, in
more recent years, as one of the major targets of United Nations activity in the
field of human rights. Through its positive actions South Africa has helped to
create an international body by which the conduct of states in the field of human
rights could be judged; through its violations of human rights norms it has
prompted the international community to set new standards and to develop a vast
range of enforcement mechanisms which has been used to address human rights
violations in South Africa, and in the world at large.
This intense and eventually stormy historical relationship between South
Africa and the United Nations is nowhere captured better than in the life of
General Jan Smuts (1870-1950), South African premier from 1919-1924 and
1939-1948.
On the one hand it is difficult to identify any individual who has made a more
consistent contribution towards bringing the idea of some kind of world govern-
ment, which concerns itself with human rights on the global level, to life. Smuts
provided the model on which the forerunner of the United Nations, the League of
Nations, was built and helped to draft its Covenant; he largely wrote the Preamble
for the Charter of the United Nations and played a substantial role in shaping the
rest of its contents. Smuts, more so than perhaps any other person, posed the
vision and articulated the ideal that a world body be established which should do
more than to intervene when armed conflicts are imminent; instead he advocated
a world body which would also address the root causes of political conflict by
improving the circumstances in which people live.
At the same time Smuts failed to apply the values which he so successfully
promoted on the international plane to his own country and continent, and experi-
* MA LLB (Pretoria) LLM (Yale) PhD (Witwatersrand), Professor of Law, University of Pretoria,
Acting Director, Centre for Human Rights, Pretoria.
7 RADIC (1995)

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