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The apartheid system as an issue was first formally brought to the United Nations attention, in order to advocate for the Indians residing in South Africa. On June 22 of 1946, the Indian government requested that the discriminatory treatment

The apartheid system as an issue was first formally brought to the United Nations attention, in order to advocate for the Indians residing in South Africa. On June 22 of 1946, the Indian government requested that the discriminatory treatment of Indians living in South Africa be included on the agenda of the first General Assembly session.[131] In 1952, apartheid was again discussed in the aftermath of the Defiance Campaign, and the UN set up a task team to keep watch on the progress of apartheid and the racial state of affairs in South Africa. Although South Africa's racial policies were a cause for concern, most countries in the UN concurred that this was a domestic affair, which fell outside the UN's jurisdiction.[132]

In April 1960, the UN's conservative stance on apartheid changed following the Sharpeville massacre, and the Security Council for the first time

In April 1960, the UN's conservative stance on apartheid changed following the Sharpeville massacre, and the Security Council for the first time agreed on concerted action against the apartheid regime. Resolution 134 called upon the nation of South Africa to abandon its policies implementing racial discrimination. The newly founded United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid, scripted and passed Resolution 181 on August 7, 1963, which called upon all states to cease the sale and shipment of all ammunition and military vehicles to South Africa. This clause was finally declared mandatory on 4 November 1977, depriving South Africa of military aid. From 1964 onwards, the US and the UK discontinued their arms trade with South Africa. The Security Council also condemned the Soweto massacre in Resolution 392. In 1977, the voluntary UN arms embargo became mandatory with the passing of Resolution 418. In addition to isolating South Africa militarily, the United Nations General Assembly, encouraged the boycotting of oil sales to South Africa.[133] Other actions taken by the United Nations General Assembly include the request for all nations and organisations, “to suspend cultural, educational, sporting and other exchanges with the racist regime and with organisations or institutions in South Africa which practice apartheid”.[134] Illustrating that over a long period of time, the United Nations was working towards isolating the state of South Africa, by putting pressure on the Apartheid regime.

After much debate, by the late-1980s, the United States, the United Kingdom, and 23 other nations had passed laws placing various trade sanctions on South Africa. A disinvestment from South Africa movement in many countries was similarly widespread, with individual cities and provinces around the world implementing various laws and local regulations forbidding registered corporations under their jurisdiction from doing business with South African firms, factories, or banks.[135]

Pope John Paul II was an outspoken opponent of apartheid. In 1985, while visiting the Netherlands, he gave an impassioned speech at the International Court of Justice condemning apartheid, proclaiming that "no system of apartheid or separate development will ever be acceptable as a model for the relations between peoples or races."[136] In September 1988, he made a pilgrimage to countries bordering South Africa, while demonstratively avoiding South Africa itself. During his visit to Zimbabwe, he called for economic sanctions against the South African government.[137]

Organisation for African Unity