Human Rights Day in South Africa in 2025

Human Rights Day in South Africa in 2025
  How long until Human Rights Day?
Human Rights Day
  Dates of Human Rights Day in South Africa
2025 South Africa Fri, Mar 21 National Holiday
2024 South Africa Thu, Mar 21 National Holiday
2023 South Africa Tue, Mar 21 National Holiday
2022 South Africa Mon, Mar 21 National Holiday
2021 Mar 21, Mar 22
South AfricaMon, Mar 22National Holiday (in lieu)
South AfricaSun, Mar 21National Holiday

Marks the establishment of the Human Rights Commission and Sharpeville Day

When is Human Rights Day?

Human Rights Day is a national holiday in South Africa that is always celebrated on March 21st.

The holiday commemorates the establishment of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

History of Human Rights Day

The aim of the SAHRC is to promote respect for human rights, promote the protection, development, and attainment of human rights, and monitor and assess the observance of human rights in South Africa.

The SAHRC was launched on March 21st 1996, marking exactly 35 years after the events of March 21st 1960 when anti-apartheid demonstrators in Sharpeville were gunned down by police.

The Native Laws Amendment Act of 1952 controlled the movement of Africans to urban areas and required all Africans to carry a reference book on them at all times.

Failure to produce the reference book on demand by the police was a punishable offence. In 1960, the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) proposed an anti-Pass campaign to start on March 21st. All African men were to take part in the campaign without their passes and present themselves for arrest.

Campaigners gathered at police stations in townships near Johannesburg where they were dispersed by police. At the Sharpeville police station, a scuffle broke out. The police opened fire, apparently without having been given a prior order to do so. Sixty-nine people were killed and 180 wounded.

During the apartheid period in South Africa, this day became known as Sharpeville Day, though it was never a public holiday.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

In recognition of the events on this day, the United Nations has declared that March 21st each year is 'The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination'. Proclaiming the Day in 1966, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

Translate this page