Apartheid consisted of numerous laws that allowed the ruling white minority in South Africa to segregate, exploit and terrorize the vast majority: Africans, mostly, but also Asians and Coloureds - people of mixed race. In white-ruled South Africa, black people were denied basic human rights and political rights. Their labour was exploited, their lives segregated.
Under Apartheid, racist beliefs were enshrined in law and any criticism of the law was suppressed. Apartheid was racism made law. It was a system dictated in the minutest detail as to how and where the large black majority would live, work and die. This system of institutionalized racial discrimination defied the principles of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In 1976 the United Nations unanimously condemned the elevation of one of the "homelands", Transkei, into an independent State because it remained dependent on South Africa. Not one country in the world recognized the new State. In 1982, almost one million black South Africans were transferred to another country -- Swaziland -- without their having any say in the matter.
Ultimately, Blacks demonstrated, held strikes and rioted over such discriminatory practices. As a result diplomatic pressure mounted abroad for change. In 1990, Nelson Mandela, who had devoted his life to democracy, equality and learning for all South Africans, was released from prison after serving almost 30 years for those beliefs. He was elected president of the African National Congress the following year, and in 1993 received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of all South Africans who suffered and sacrificed so much to bring peace to their country. On May 10, 1994, Nelson Mandela was elected South Africa's first black President, in that country's first truly democratic election.
The following photos are from the United Nations photo archive collection:
A segregated beach in South Africa, 1982. (UN Photo# 151906C)