World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Department of Public Information - News and Media Services Division - New York
Durban, South Africa
31 August 7 September 2001
3 September 2001

PM & Night Meetings



United States, Israel Announce Withdrawal from Conference

Speakers in the general debate of the World Conference against Racism this afternoon and evening addressed a wide range of issues as the United States and Israel announced that they were withdrawing their delegations from the Conference.

Both the President of the Conference, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, and its Secretary-General, Mary Robinson, expressed regret over the withdrawal, and urged other delegations to persist in their endeavours to build on the constructive work already done and to bring the Conference to a successful end.

As participants in the general debate addressed such modern forms of intolerance as xenophobia aimed at migrant workers, the role of education and the racism of sanctions, Turkey's representative said that although official doctrines of superiority based on racial differentiation no longer existed, the international community must deter, through cooperation and solidarity, the resurgence of ultra-right wing parties or movements, particularly in multicultural societies.

He said his country had first-hand experience of discrimination and xenophobia against Turkish migrant workers in some countries. Such discrimination found expression in limited access to or even denial of public education, health care and employment. Xenophobia aimed at migrant workers sometimes resulted in deadly violence, he added.

A representative of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said the issue of migration had become a political "hot potato". Sadly, migrants were more often seen as parasites. Until they were no longer seen by the host community as people to be used, exploited or discriminated against, there could be no real progress towards their protection. He called for full implementation of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and for the creation of strategies and models to promote orderly human migration flows and integration of migrants into new communities.

The representatives of Libya and Iraq both condemned the use of sanctions as a form of discrimination. Ali Abdussalam Treiki, Secretary of
Libya's People's General Committee for African Unity, said in Libya, one must stand up to policies of subordination, intellectual and cultural pillage, selective sanctions, blockades and starvation of people. That was a racist policy practised by some great Powers against small nations that refused to submit to their dictates.

Iraq's representative said his country had suffered significantly from different forms of discrimination, injustice and deprivation due to the comprehensive economic sanctions and the continued military aggression that had been continuing for more than 11 years.

Zimbabwe' Minister of Justice, P.A. Chinamasa, refuted the argument that crimes against humanity had not been defined legally at the time of slavery, the slave trade and colonialism. At the Nuremberg trials in the 1940s, the phrase was used and retroactively applied to crimes committed as far back as 1938, he said. "We view the reluctance and equivocation over these fundamental issues, and the denial of the problem, as evidence of inherent racism."

Regarding the question of reparations for descendants of the victims of slavery, the slave trade and colonialism, he said the principle of reparations was now recognized in international jurisprudence. Citing the German reparations to the State of Israel for the Holocaust and United States reparations to Japanese Americans for their illegal Second World War internment, he asked: "Is the message we take back home that weak nations and peoples have no place in the sun?"

Petko Draganov, Bulgaria's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, noting the abundance of regional mechanisms designed to handle regional concerns in the Conference, called on delegates not to expand foreign policy agendas into the subject. He expressed the hope that the draft Declaration would become the Magna Carta against all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and that the draft Programme of Action would be the blueprint for building a new world free of those evils.

The Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) drew attention to the dangers of genetics. More than ever, ethics must keep step with scientific progress and technological applications, he emphasized, so that they did not lead to new forms of discrimination. There was a risk that the new techniques of human reproduction would lead to the selection of embryos, and thereby to discrimination.

The Durban meeting, formally known as the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, opened on 31 August and is scheduled to end on 7 September. It provides the first opportunity in the post-apartheid era for the global community to deliberate a broad agenda to combat racism and related issues. World leaders hope to adopt a Declaration and Programme of Action that can be used as a framework by individual countries, governments and their civil society partners to further promote policies of tolerance and protect citizens from all forms of discrimination.

Also speaking today were: Ali Al-Anisi, Director of the Office of the Presidency, Yemen; Eduard Sulo, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Albania; Alikhan Baymenov, Minister of Labour and Social Security of Kazakhstan; Nguyen Phu Binh, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam; Pracha Guna-Kasem, Special Adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand; Abdul-Rahman Al-Attiyah, Under-Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar; Jose Leitao, High Commissioner for Immigration and Ethnic Minorities of Portugal; Soledad Villara, Director for Human Rights in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay; Mohamed El-Amine, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Comoros; Tanio Borg, Minister for Home Affairs of Malta; and Anibal Delgado Fiallos, Minister-Director of the National Agrarian Institute of Honduras.

Other speakers included the representatives of the Dominican Republic, Bahrain, Nepal and Ecuador.

The Permanent Observer for the Holy See also spoke.

Also participating were the Chairman of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Chairman of the Thirteenth Meeting of the Human Rights Treaty Bodies.

A representative of the United Nations Population Fund also took part in the session.

Representatives of the following organizations also addressed the plenary: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization; the International Organization of Francophonie; International Committee of the Red Cross; and Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Cyprus, Iraq Turkey and Kuwait. The Permanent Observer for Palestine also spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Conference's plenary session will resume at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 4 September, to continue its general debate.


ALI MOHAMMED AL-ANISI, Director of the Office of the Presidency, Deputy President of the Human Rights Commission of Yemen: We are all required to contribute effectively towards achieving the goals of this Conference. Yemen has participated in the efforts of the international community to combat racism and to guarantee respect for human rights. It has signed and ratified the treaties and agreements relating to civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

The Islamic religion calls for justice, brotherhood, equality and love, and prohibits tyranny of human on other humans. The rights of minorities are protected in Islamic societies. Religious and ethnic minorities live in peace and harmony in the Arabic and Islamic environments. That was the case until the Zionist settlers came to Palestine with the help of the colonial Powers. When the Zionists arrived, they started a campaign of genocide, forcing the mass exodus of the indigenous people of the area -- Palestinian Arabs. Zionists arrived from all corners of earth, and were implanted in the homes of the Palestinians. Israel is practicing many kinds of racial and religious discrimination against the Arabs. This Conference must direct a clear condemnation of Israel and assert that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination. The international community must bear its responsibility to guarantee security and protection for the Palestinians. Further, the international community must oblige Israel to pay compensation for the crimes it committed against the Palestinians.

PIERRE SANE, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): As early as 1948, UNESCO initiated a programme which, through the dissemination of scientific facts, established the fallacious nature of racist theories. It elucidated the genesis of theories of racial superiority. Science, modern genetics in particular, has constantly affirmed the unity of the human species, and denied that the notion of "race" has any foundation. Yet racism and racial discrimination have hardly vanished.

One of the major obstacles to the eradication or racism and xenophobia has been the practice of denial; denial of responsibility over past deeds, denial of the plight of today's victims and denial regarding future threats. The past should not be buried. That is why UNESCO initiated in 1994 the Slave Route Project. The two main aims of the project are to study the ultimate causes and modalities of the slave trade and slavery and to measure its consequences.

More than ever, ethics need to keep step with scientific progress and technological applications so that they do not lead to new forms of discrimination. Is there not a risk that the new techniques of human reproduction will lead to the selection of embryos, and thereby to discrimination? Moreover, research on the human genetic heritage could increase the temptation to deny the existence of human liberty. Safeguards must be established to prevent misapplications of the new genetics, which are now entirely possible, and to protect humanity from the spread of new techniques informed by genetic racism and discrimination.

ALI BANDIARE, Vice-President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies: Racism is not entirely behind us. Discriminatory laws and practices are very much alive in some places. In other places, people accept -- silently -- the more subtle forms of discrimination: hidden practices that no one will admit exist, making it more difficult for some people to obtain justice or fair representation. The Red Cross and Red Crescent Federation uses its vast network of volunteers to help vulnerable people, not only through material assistance, but also through advocacy against all forms of discrimination. Our fight against discrimination is as old as the Red Cross idea.

It is not enough to make people aware of where we stand. We must make the best possible use of our biggest asset: the omnipresent volunteers. At the last international conference, States and national societies pledged to cooperate and take initiatives to promote tolerance, non-violence in the community and respect for cultural diversity. The International Federation translated that into its operational strategies. But our efforts alone will not suffice. We need continued support from governments and partners, and we must cooperate more with the United Nations and other partners.

The young people in our movement are the initiators, catalysts and main actors in many programmes to oppose racism and racial or other discrimination. I am reassured to know that the fight against racism is championed by the commitment and power of our young volunteers. They will not look away and they will not tolerate the intolerable. We are ready to commit to and follow up the agreement we will reach at this Conference. Together, we can build and protect human dignity and tolerance.

WAFIK KAMIL, Secretary-General of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization: History, which is the living memory of humanity, reminds us that nothing is permanent, that nothing lasts unchanged, that civilizations rise and crumble and that the perpetrators of today could be the victims of tomorrow. We dream of a world without "victims" or "perpetrators".

It is almost 50 years since the struggle to establish the dignity of human beings has been under way. Our gathering here means that those evils are still very much alive. All past efforts to combat racism, racial discrimination and intolerance were directed towards the symptoms and not at the deep-rooted causes. Before combating those evils we should eradicate fear, hatred, greed, egoism, superiority complex and, above all, insecurity and "self-emptiness".

The World Conference can have a significant and long-lasting impact at the international, regional, national and local levels. For those groups, communities and individuals most affected by racism and discrimination, it has the potential to affect their lives and life-chances in a most profound way and to ensure the full protection and enjoyment of human rights for all.

XAVIER MICHEL, International Organization of Francophonie: The struggle against racism is also a struggle against marginalization and exclusion of the neediest, because there is indeed a vicious circle between poverty and racism. Given our organization's composition, it is exposed to the phenomena of racism. Many victims of racism are found in francophone areas, where the pains of enslavement, colonialism and genocide have been felt. The Conference needs, therefore, to uphold remembrance, but it must also address the future in order to better arm us against this scourge that, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, remains frighteningly real.

After two conferences in Geneva, and nearly at the end of the Third Decade to Combat Racism, we must recognize that a lot remains to be done. It is not enough to elaborate new texts, we have to change the mentality of people. That's why we support the participation of NGOs and representatives of francophone youth. We must be aware of the allure of indifference .

The struggle against racism is a struggle for development, for democracy and for peace. The Organization of Francophonie appeals to member States who have not done so to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. We must also create awareness among public opinion and monitor school texts and audio-visual material for any trace of racism. The Organization of Francophonie will support an international instrument to promote cultural diversity.

FRANCIS AMAR, Chief, Division of International Organizations, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC): The proceedings and documents of the World Conference should reflect the importance of non-discrimination as a basic tenet of international humanitarian law. As guardian of international humanitarian law, the ICRC has a particular interest in seeing that its rules are respected in all circumstances. Respect means that States have a duty to take legal and practical measures aimed at ensuring full compliance with their treaty obligations, including those prohibiting discrimination.

Respect for humanitarian law can be achieved not only through preventive measures, but also through efforts to prosecute and punish those responsible for violations. Appropriate attention in our discussions and in Conference documents should therefore be paid to the issue of combating impunity for grave breaches and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.

We recommend that the World Conference call upon States to enact national legislation prohibiting and punishing war crimes and enabling the application of the principle of universal jurisdiction in their prosecution, as provided for by international humanitarian law. The Conference should also urge States to ratify international instruments of relevance to combating impunity for war crimes committed in international and non-international armed conflict, such as the 1998 Rome Treaty establishing a permanent International Criminal Court.

RICHARD PERRUCHOUD, of the International Organization for Migration (IOM): Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are phenomena unworthy of our age and we must work to eliminate them. Discriminatory or intolerant actions and attitudes toward migrants, migrant workers and their families are of constant concern to our organization.

The issue of migration has become a political "hot potato". While we saw bigotry, hatred and acts of violence towards migrants on the rise during the past decade of economic prosperity, we can only wonder what the reaction to that particularly vulnerable group will be during the coming global economic slow-down. Moreover, the adverse effects of globalization -- which has many positive aspects -- are at the same time, increasing migration flows. We tend to forget that migration, when properly organized, can be a positive development, not just for the host country, but for the migrants themselves. Sadly, migrants are more often seen as parasites. Until migrants are no longer seen by the host community as people to be used or exploited or discriminated against, we can never make any real progress towards their protection.

To aid global efforts to combat discrimination and intolerance and to ensure the protection of migrants in particular, we call for full implementation of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. We also call for the creation of strategies and models, which promote orderly human migrations flows and integration of migrants into new communities. We urge the protection and security of migrants and their families in all areas. Our organization acts as a link between laws and daily life for migrants and migrant workers. For tangible process in the area of migrants, we further urge the ratification of the United Nations Protocol against Trafficking in Migrants as well as the Protocol on Trafficking in Women and Children. We recommend the extension of a regional approach that fosters coordination between countries so that the dignity of migrants and their families can be ensured.

EDUARD SULO, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Albania: One of the main priorities of Albania is to guarantee equality for its citizens, thus joining the efforts being made by the international community in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The Constitution of 1998 provides that no one can be discriminated against based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity, language, political, religious and philosophical beliefs, or on economic, educational or social status or parental background. Today, national minorities are the communities most threatened by racism, intolerance and xenophobia throughout the world. Albania considers them an inseparable part of society. It is a fact that Albania has never had an inter-ethnic conflict. Of course, there are still unresolved problems, such as improving the position of the Roma population.

South-east Europe has recently been involved in a number of positive developments in the field of human rights as a result of the consolidation of the democratic process, the liberalization of economies, and the process of integrating with the European Union. Despite those developments, the Balkan region suffered tragic events during the last decade that resulted in, because of inter-ethnic, nationalistic, racist and xenophobic policies, hundreds of thousands of innocent victims.

The events in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia represent another disturbing situation in our region. Albania does not support the extremist actions that have been undertaken in the name of respect for human rights. At the same time, however, Albania strongly condemns the acts of violence and intolerance committed against Albanians by certain groups. Albania salutes the signing of the peace agreement in Skopje, and the Government is convinced that it will consolidate the democratic process and further improve the inter-ethnic relations in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. What is needed now is its immediate implementation, by both sides.

PETKO DRAGANOV, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria: The tremendous and profound changes that have taken place in the world since the end of apartheid provide a new environment for addressing the complex nature of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Indeed, at the dawn of a new millennium, mankind should be given a signal of hope that we can all work together and develop universal approaches to address some of the most difficult and disgraceful issues of our time. This Conference can prove that there can be common solutions to common problems. Every State has its own record on racism. Bulgaria addresses the problems related to intolerance with openness and responsibility, motivated by the universal values prescribed by the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and all other relevant international instruments.

Our Constitution establishes the principle of non-discrimination and the equality of all citizens under the law. We have always been known as a peaceful, multi-ethnic society and we are trying to represent a successful model for the entire Balkans region. In that regard we have established a national council on ethnic and democratic issues to facilitate consultations and coordination between Government institutions and non-governmental organizations, with the priority objective of designing and implementing national polices to resolve ethnic problems. The Council has developed a specific programme on the treatment of the Roma in Bulgarian society. Experts of Roma origin have been appointed to the Council of Ministers, government agencies and regional and municipal organizations.

We believe this Conference is mainly about the future. We acknowledge the necessity to address past practices, but we should not let that past haunt us forever. I realize that there are varying opinions on that issue, but what matters most is what our future will be and what do we all need to do to ensure that all nations have the resources to bridge the divides. We also feel that the Conference needs to send universal rather than regional messages. There seem to be an abundance of regional mechanisms designed to handle regional concerns. So let us not expand our foreign policy agendas into this field.

P.A. CHINAMASA, Minister of Justice of Zimbabwe: My delegation presumes and dares to speak on behalf of all Africans on the continent and in the diaspora, and on behalf of black people everywhere. We do so because we are still-living victims of both colonialism and racism. The evil legacy of colonialism is still with us 21 years after the attainment of our independence in 1980. We had won a battle, but not the war. We still suffer from skewed and racially biased land ownership, a legacy of those two evils.

It has been argued that slavery, the slave trade and colonialism cannot be branded crimes against humanity because when those evils took place, the phrase "crimes against humanity" had not yet come into vogue and cannot therefore be applied retroactively. That argument is put forward notwithstanding the fact that when that phrase was first used at the Nuremberg trials in the 1940s, it was being retroactively applied to crimes that had been committed as far back as 1938. We view the reluctance and equivocation over those fundamental issues, and the denial of the problem, as evidence of inherent racism.

As for our call for reparations to be paid to victims of slavery, the slave trade and colonialism, we draw attention to the fact that the issue of reparations is now internationally recognized as part of our legal jurisprudence. We had German reparations to the State of Israel for the Holocaust and United States reparations to Japanese Americans for illegal internment during the Second World War. Is the message we take back home that weak nations and peoples have no place in the sun?

The resistance to land reform by white farmers is aided and abetted by the powerful sections of the international community and the international media who have sought to demonize the Government and portray us as the perpetrators of racism whereas we are, in fact, the victims of a century of racism. The Government will not, however, be deterred in its efforts to redress the injustices of the past and restore the dignity and worth of indigenous Zimbabweans.

ALI ABDUSSALAM TREIKI, Secretary of the People's General Committee for African Unity of Libya: This Conference must formally declare that slavery and the slave trade practised against the African peoples are the worst forms of human rights violations, that the parties responsible must apologize to the people of Africa and that they must undertake, formally and publicly, to satisfactorily compensate the peoples of Africa. Recent instances of such compensation attest to the legitimacy of Africa's demand that the victims of the slave trade and their descendants be compensated. There should be a fund for the development of Africa, and the financing of its endeavour to eliminate diseases and epidemics must be provided by former colonialists whose actions led to its backwardness and to their progress at Africa's expense.

We must valiantly confront cultural influences unilaterally exercised on other peoples. We must stand up to policies of subordination, intellectual and cultural pillage, the policies of selective sanctions, blockades and starvation of people. That is a racist policy practised by some great Powers against small nations that refuse to submit to their dictates. It is a grave departure from the United Nations Charter and human rights instruments. The Security Council has become unable to defend nations under oppression. International law is no longer respected. The great Powers simply use that law for their own interests.

The Palestinian people were expelled collectively from their land. They are daily exposed to killings for political reasons. What could be more racist than what is happening in Palestine? But super-Powers protect the racist regime. We condemn what the Germans did, but do the Jews have the right to repeat what Hitler did? We, as oppressed nations, have lost confidence in international law; lost confidence in the United Nations, lost confidence in the Security Council because it has become a tool for aggression and hegemony. The oppressed nations of the world must join hands to put an end to the aggression to them.

ALIKHAN BAYMENOV, Minister of Labour and Social Security of Kazakhstan: Kazakhstan is celebrating its tenth anniversary of independence this year. It is a multi-cultural society that is committed to protecting human rights. It is already a party to many international treaties, including the Geneva humanitarian conventions. The Constitution prohibits discrimination of any kind. In a multi-ethnic, multi-faith State, it is important to have practical measures to ensure that discrimination is not perpetrated. That is very important to the Government since it had only recently shed the shackles of a totalitarian system. At the national level, the National Assembly has members of every ethnic group, which clearly helps to improve the quality of the laws we adopt because the ethnic minorities' interests are taken into account. Kazakhstan is the only member of the Commonwealth of Independent States that allows people to enter the civil service through a competitive exam.

The Government makes every effort to allow for the ideal environment for the mass media, including broadcast media. It supports the proposed language in the final documents about the importance of education and training in the latest technological advances. The Government recognizes that there is a responsibility to future generations, and that is why it is committed to doing all it can to ensure that the future is free from racism and racial discrimination.

NGUYEN PHU BINH, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam: When man is exploring other planets in search of life and taking measures to protect wild animals, we are still looking for answers to the question of how to end uncivilized, often barbaric acts committed by human beings against other human beings in the name of different skin colour, nationality, language and descent.

Because racism and racial discrimination have existed for so long, appropriate solutions can only be found through determination, genuine cooperation and solidarity. What has emerged from discussions during the preparatory process is that such solutions require of us true respect for history, a true sense of responsibility for future generations, and concrete measures aimed at helping the peoples of the developing countries, who for too long have been victims of colonialism and other forms of racism and racial discrimination.

Furthermore, as racism and racial discrimination have always been associated with war, aggression and interference, the reality of only yesterday convincingly tells us that such solutions must be based on the most fundamental principle of international relations -- that of respect for national independence and sovereignty. As a peace-loving country, a party to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and other international human rights instruments, Viet Nam will continue to stand with peoples struggling against racism and racial discrimination wherever and in whatever form they may occur.

PRACHA GUNA-KASEM, Special Adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Thailand: It is undeniable that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance exist, no matter where we are on the globe. We need to cultivate minds free of prejudice, bias and hatred. In order to achieve that objective, education and public-awareness building are crucial. National laws must prohibit all forms of discrimination and must provide clear provisions for punishment and remedies. In that connection, Thailand is now in the process of drafting a non-discrimination act to guarantee that people, regardless of their differences, are treated equally. Our society respects differences and greatly values diversity. Our ministry of education is introducing the concept of involving the community in designing school curricula. That may significantly enrich the quality of national education and will enable us to benefit from local wisdom. It is our hope that through that scheme, diversity will be cherished and understanding will be reached.

We hope that the Declaration under consideration will become the Magna Carta against all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. We hope the Action Plan will be the blueprint for building a new world free of those same evils. Those are vital documents that can truly make the world safer. Let us, therefore, not get side-tracked by petty arguments. Let us instead be generous of spirit.

One of the issues considered during the run-up to the Conference was what constitutes discrimination and exactly who would be identified as victims. My delegation feels that deep in our hearts, we all know who the victims of discrimination are and we can all feel and witness the suffering of those being discriminated against. The victims cannot be denied, so how can we deny the truth? Just as human rights are indivisible, so is human suffering. In the Middle East, both the Israeli people and the Palestinians are suffering. At this Conference, we should not exacerbate their plight; we should do whatever we can to bring an end to it. All parties concerned should at the same time resume negotiations as soon as possible. On the issue of past practices, we fully sympathize with the victims of slavery and colonialism. We feel that it can never be possible to fully repair the wounds and the pain suffered by those victims and would urge that the consequences of the past be addressed through assisting victims with development challenges in the spirit of international solidarity and partnership. In that regard, Africa truly deserves recognition and priority attention.

ABDUL-RAHMAN AL-ATTIYAH, Under-Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar: Qatar has always tried, and continues to this day, to take a firm position on racism and human rights. In doing so, it proceeds from its belief in the importance of eradicating this catastrophe that threatens security and stability all over the world. Qatar has played a prominent and effective role on both international and regional levels by participating in all conventions and activities that consolidate equality, tolerance and justice. It has spared no effort to coordinate with other nations in the realm of human rights and combating racism, apartheid in all its forms, slavery and marginalization. Qatar is proud that it has transformed those values into a tangible way of living. That is manifest in perpetual interaction in a multi-cultural community in which people from different parts of the world, who came to help us in our modern development, found a secure and decent life.

Israel's enmity towards the Palestinians, and its destruction of their properties and economy, not only stem from its desire to subjugate them, but also stem from its strong sense of superiority, which relegates the Palestinians to an inferior position. Ironically, Israeli security is considered sacred when balanced against Palestinian security, and all of Israel's heinous violations are justified as a means to bring back every Jew to a land that they raped from its legitimate owners and denied them their right to claim it back. Our greatest concern is that entire peoples are denied their political rights. The continuous suffering of the Palestinian people is a case in point. Faced with indifference and marginalization, those people have suffered for more than 50 years of genocide, of having their rights denied, being displaced, being expelled, and having their property destroyed. We must restore to the Palestinian people the rights guaranteed them by international law and endorsed by all States participating in this Conference. The tragic events endured by the Palestinian people are a grave phenomenon and a stigma to the conscience of the entire mankind.

Rights of Reply

The representative of Cyprus, exercising her right of reply, said in response to Turkey's intervention yesterday that Turkey had invaded and occupied the northern part of Cyprus. Numerous resolutions of the United Nations and the Security Council call upon Turkey to withdraw from the island. The illegal occupation is a violation of international law. The displacement, on the basis of ethnicity, of numerous inhabitants of Cyprus, demonstrates the racist policy of Turkey in Cyprus. Cyprus denounces the racist policy of Turkey.

Exercising his right of reply, the representative of Iraq said that the statement made by the delegation of Kuwait during yesterday's meeting contained misguided allegations concerning the presence of Kuwaiti prisoners in Iraq. It was a fact, however, that there were no Kuwaiti prisoners in Iraq. The ICRC was in possession of information which supported that fact.

As for accusations concerning missing persons during the conflict, there were missing persons on both sides numbering some 1,242. Iraq stood ready to cooperate with Kuwait, directly or through either the tripartite committee under the auspices of the ICRC or through the League of Arab States, in order to find a solution to that humanitarian question.

However, Iraq was willing to participate in the work of the tripartite Committee only if it included the participation of the parties involved. To that end, Iraq had sent a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General concerning the participation of outside parties -- namely the United States and the United Kingdom -- in the Committee's work. If those two States were allowed to participate, then Iraq would seek the participation of more neutral States, such as China, the Russian Federation and India. It was his hope that Kuwaiti officials would cease those allegations, and he challenged that delegation to sit down with Iraq, face-to-face, in order to address those humanitarian questions.

The representative of Palestine, exercising his right of reply, said the representative of Israel spoke on behalf of a Minister who declined to address this assembly. We believe that is an admission that Israel has failed to prove that it is a peace-loving country that abides by international laws and humanitarian law. He did refer to something about 4,000 years ago. We don't understand what relevance this has today. Israel must realize that since the defeat of nazism and fascism, the international community has adopted norms and values that govern the international community. Those protect individual rights and national rights. The right of return for the Palestinian people has been refused by the Israelis repeatedly. Another inalienable right is the right to self-determination, and that has not been extended to the Palestinians by the Israelis and another world Power.

In the meantime, Israel has promulgated a law to return, but it was only applicable to Jews. The representative said Jews and Arabs can live side-by-side, but how does he explain that the only way that has happened in the last year is at gunpoint? How can they achieve peace with F-16s and Apaches. Israel has to honour and fulfil the principles enshrined in the international instruments of human rights. It is not seen how the world can be fooled much longer by the Israelis. Their reasoning is not biblically correct or politically sound.

The representative of Turkey, exercising his right of reply, said that in response to the statement of the representative of the Greek Cypriot administration, he could only say that if the Greek Cypriots would accept equality of their Turkish counterparts, the stage would be set for a situation where the Greek and Turkish Cypriots could live together in peace.

Exercising the right of reply, the representative of Kuwait said that denying the fact that there were Kuwaiti prisoners in Iraq was something that his delegation could just not accept. Indeed, Kuwait had learned form past experience that it could not trust what Iraq said. He would remind Iraq that it was bound to respect the principles of the United Nations Charter, as well as relevant Security Council resolutions and international instruments related to the implementation of human rights protection. Adherence to those instruments would require that the Kuwaitis be allowed to return to their homelands a result of the war.

While Iraq continued to attempt to politicize the issue, Kuwait was concerned about families and wanted to know where they were. If Iraq was serious about working to solve the problem, it should stop boycotting the tripartite committee meetings, the most recent of which had been held in July. Iraq should be aware that Kuwait would leave no stone unturned. He added that all such situations should be resolved within the principles of the Fourth Geneva Convention.


MICHAEL SHERIFIS, Chairman of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and Chairman of the thirteenth meeting of the Human Rights Treaty Bodies: While much work remains to be done by all stakeholders to bring human rights home at the national and local levels, the cumulative scope of the six major human rights treaties, properly implemented, takes us potentially a great way forward in the struggle against racism, and the fulfilment of the world community's goals as expressed in this Conference. The treaty bodies' vital role in that regard has repeatedly been acknowledged by the United Nations political bodies.

The continuing expansion of the international human rights regime, and its widening effects upon parties beyond the circle of subscribing States parties, promises much in terms of grounding political action within a firm bulwark of legal accountability. It is incumbent upon all stakeholders in the system -- governments, civil society, non-governmental organizations, relevant international and regional organizations, and, not least of all, the treaty body members themselves, to harness the benefits of that system, and to improve its effectiveness. As the number of States becoming parties to international human rights treaties is ever increasing, there is an imperative to strengthen the monitoring organs by providing them the necessary resources in order to enable them to perform their tasks in an efficient manner.

This Conference provides the historic opportunity for the adoption of new and appropriate result-oriented measures that will effectively combat the causes of racism and help eliminate its various manifestations. We maintain in that regard that the role of the Treaty Monitoring Bodies should be enhanced, especially with reference to the implementation of measures to be adopted within the ambit of the Programme of Action. The measures envisaged and expected to be adopted at the Conference would -- if implemented -- constitute important steps forward. They would provide protection for indigenous people living in the margins of society; for black people, who in many countries are treated as second-class citizens; for the Roma people, who have suffered so long from hardship and persecution; for migrant workers from many nationalities and races who cross frontiers in search of a better life; and for refugees and displaced persons, who were forced to flee their homes and lands because of international and internal conflict.

JOSE LEITAO, High Commissioner for Immigration and Ethnic Minorities of Portugal: Racism is not a new phenomenon, and it is not particular to any region of the world. It is the world's responsibility to create conditions that ensure that racist acts are never committed again. The victims must be given a voice, and the most vulnerable groups should be given special protection. It is important to stress education, so future generations can learn the importance of tolerance and the evils of the past.

The Conference provides a chance to show recognition for those who suffered in the past, particularly the victims of slavery, the slave trade and the victims of trafficking. Portugal has undertaken several efforts to protect individuals from racism and discrimination. The Constitution guarantees fundamental freedoms and basic human rights to all citizens. The Government has abolished colonialism, and ensures that peoples are not exploited. Portugal has worked hard to ensure respect for all human beings, regardless of their characteristics. The Government provides a right to work for all legal citizens in Portugal, and establishes a minimum wage. Immigrants contribute to the country's development, and should be thanked for making the country more diverse. The Government has also promulgated legislation that makes it possible to criminally punish racist crimes. There are also provisions that provide redress for victims of racist crimes.

The Government has established a Commission for Equality. The majority of members were appointed by immigrants, anti-racist advocates, human rights defenders, and trade union activists, among others. All of those efforts, the Government hopes, will help build a better and happier world for our children.

SAMIR K. AL-NIMA (Iraq): Iraq, with its different ethnic groups and minorities, has suffered significantly from different forms of discrimination, injustice and deprivation due to the comprehensive economic sanctions and the continued military aggression which has been ongoing for more than 11 years. The tragic suffering of the Iraqi people is but one manifestation of the racial attitude by the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom against the Iraqi people, an attitude that has led to genocide with the death of more than 1.5 million Iraqis.

In Palestinian occupied territories, the Israeli forces of occupation have been committing crimes against humanity since 1948. Under the eyes of the international community, the Israeli occupation forces have been committing the worst forms of aggression and racial discrimination against the unarmed Palestinian people, including the killings of civilians, especially children, isolating Palestinian villages and towns, imposing economic blockades, destroying houses, and other forms of inhumane practices. The document of the Conference has to unmask the real nature and condemn the Zionist racial practices as the international community did in its last conference on racism.

Undoubtedly, the African continent suffered the most from racism, racial discrimination, slavery and human trafficking. The African people suffered significantly during the era of colonialism, which was characterized by the pillage of the wealth and resources of the African continent. Those colonial Powers should be held accountable and have to apologize to and compensate the African peoples for their acts. There must also be a condemnation of the savage crimes and injustice that were perpetrated against the indigenous people and people of African descent who were victims of enslavement.

RUBEN SILIE (Dominican Republic): The Conference is of special significance to my country because it was in the Dominican Republic that the extermination of the indigenous people of the Americas began. While we cannot be considered a national community, consisting of different groups -- having come mostly from Africa and Europe after the indigenous populations were wiped out -- we consider ourselves single people, not belonging to any ethnic group or colour. The sad legacy of the European aesthetic which attached values to skin colour still lingers, however. That notion, which has its roots in colonialism, manifests itself as the practice of bigotry or prejudice, which assumes that skin colour may outweigh an individual's other attributes.

While such attitudes have been a hindrance in the past, our present Government is putting in place policies to ensure that such xenophobia is eliminated. Indeed, we believe we have entered a new phase in the fight against racism, inequality and all forms of social exclusion. We are attempting to elaborate mechanisms for social integration that will put such attitudes behind us and better relations between the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Bills and laws aimed at eliminating xenophobic practices are being created and the Government is putting in place machinery to ensure respect for the rights of migrants. Those who violate the rights of immigrants do not go unpunished. Civil society is also playing its role in promoting the Dominican Republic's African heritage. Still, we are aware of how hard it is to change attitudes, but all may be sure the we in the Dominican Republic are aware that cooperation is the best guarantee that all people live in peace.

IBRAHIM ALI AL-MAJED (Bahrain): We view the practice of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance as serious violations of human rights, essentially constituting crimes against humanity. The international community should address those inhuman phenomena resolutely, whether in times of peace or during war. We should maintain strong political will to investigate unjust practices, whether past or present, and establish programmes to ensure their elimination. We believe ignoring racism only exacerbates the problem. The same could be said of poverty. Indeed, the spread of poverty and marginalization leads to the segregation of some individuals and groups.

We also regret discriminatory practice based on sex, religious belief and social or economic status and demand that the strategies, policies and programmes be put into place aimed at eliminating those forms of intolerance. Bahrain, based on its heritage, values and Islamic religion, believes that humanity constitutes one family, with no difference among its individuals. We therefore regret the presence of political, economic and social situations that aid the spread of racial discrimination and intolerance. Bahrain also believes that equality, development and self-determination make up the important foundation for the eliminations of racism and racial discrimination. With that in mind, we call for the urgent enactment of international, regional and national regulations that have as their aim the achievement of a better life for all.

Foreign occupation built upon the suppression of self-determination and polices of racial discrimination and intolerance is at odds with the principles of the United Nations Charter. It also constitutes a serious violation of human rights and international humanitarian law. It is a hateful form of racial segregation and discrimination as well as a threat to international peace and security. It is beyond a doubt then that the Israeli occupation of occupied Arab territories will merit the harshest of descriptions. It has caused serious hardship for the Palestinian people and has prevented them from participating in even the most ordinary everyday activities. Israeli policies are based on racial discrimination and have forced the Palestinian people to struggle for freedom and self-determination. We call on the occupying State, Israel, to stop those practices. We believe that the Middle East is in need of a just and comprehensive peace that would enable all its peoples to attain economic and social development.

SOLEDAD VILLARA, Director for Human Rights in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay: Paraguay, which has a population that is very young -- 70 per cent are under the age of 35 -- is prepared to work for the elimination of discrimination. In 1989, the country emerged from under a dictatorship that had ruled for 35 years. Paraguay gives the greatest importance to education which stresses values, accurate history and the respect of human rights. The goal is to develop sensitive individuals who recognize the value of diversity.

On several occasions, Paraguay had ancestral lands returned to them that had been taken by colonizing Powers. That could serve as an example for the international community. Only in the context of democracy can one truly enjoy human rights. Equality in rights presupposes the absence of obstacles to the rights, and the infrastructure that would allow the enjoyment of those rights, including affirmative action.

Discriminatory policies in trade have to be reformed, since it restricts the access developing countries have to the markets of developed countries, and that widens the gap between rich and poor countries. The international community should be urged to speed up ratification of the Rome Statute so that the International Criminal Court can be established so that crimes against humanity, including genocide, can be rightly punished.

MURAT SUNGAR (Turkey): Understanding the past is of course essential to building a better future. However, we should not become captive to the past, but rather be forward looking. The patterns of contemporary racism are different from those of past decades. Official doctrines of superiority based on racial differentiation perhaps no longer exist. However, the resurgence of ultra-right parties or movements, particularly in the midst of multicultural societies, must by deterred by the international community through cooperation and a show of solidarity.

As a State having 4 million citizens living in foreign countries as migrant workers and members of their families, Turkey has gained first-hand experience about discrimination and xenophobia against its migrant workers in some countries. Forms of discrimination suffered by the migrant workers find expression in limited access to or even denial of public education, health care and employment. That situation often leads to violation of their social and economic rights. Racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia aimed at migrant workers sometimes tragically result in deadly violence and numerous Turkish citizens living in Western societies have lost their live in such acts.

We should not underestimate the positive contribution of the media to the struggle against racism and discrimination. Nevertheless, certain media circles, by promoting false images and stereotypes of vulnerable groups, particularly of migrants, migrant workers and refugees, have indirectly encouraged the spread of racist and xenophobic sentiments. We should have a unified stance against those circles. The successful conclusion of this Conference will be an important step in that direction.

RAM SIMKHADA (Nepal): The Constitution of Nepal of 1990, which was promulgated with the widest possible participation of the people, guarantees non-discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, sex, caste or tribe, or ideological conviction. It says that all citizens are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection. It also guarantees basic human rights to every citizen. The Government has eliminated any and all forms of discrimination, which is clearly reflected in the legislative, administrative and other measures taken since the restoration of multi-party democracy in 1990.

Despite those measures, there are unfortunate acts of injustice based on gender and caste division. There is exploitation of many Dalits, who continue to be victims of ethnic, religious, cultural, social and economic injustices affecting parts of our society. That stands as a major challenge in our effort to create an inclusive society in which all our people enjoy greater dignity and rights. Inequality, growing signs of distrust and division, conflict and violence in a society known for its tradition of tolerance are indeed painful developments. While we recognize those challenges, we also stress our determination to build our society on the foundation of justice and morality through more equitable distribution of available resources and economic gains.

Durban has a special place in the march towards emancipation. It is here that Mahatma Gandhi started his movement that inspired the independence movements in many parts of Asia and Africa. Although always an independent Kingdom, Nepal always stood in solidarity with those who suffered from colonialism and evils of the slave trade or its other manifestations. Nepal's active role in the Committee against Apartheid in the United Nations is a testimony of our solidarity with the people of Africa in their struggle against racism. It is our hope that Durban once again becomes a defining venue where we board the train crossing the barrier of prejudice and intolerance, passing through the bridge of solidarity among all members of the human family.

DIARMUID MARTIN (Holy See): Racism is a sin. It is fundamentally a lie, a concept deliberately invented to create division in humanity. This Conference must be about the truth. This is a Conference about the ethical foundations of a new world community. Pope John Paul II has noted: "One cannot remain a prisoner of the past: individuals and peoples need a 'healing of memories'". The healing of memory requires that we honestly appraise our personal, community and national history and admit those less noble aspects which have contributed to the marginalization of today.

Migration will be one of the typical characteristics of a globalized world. It can be a phenomenon which generates prosperity, helps reduce global inequalities and enhances encounters among peoples and cultures. But today, the migrant can easily become the object of racial discrimination, intolerance, exploitation and violence. The Conference must constitute a clear reaffirmation of the fundamental human rights of all migrants, regardless of their immigration status. The Holy See wishes further to stress the fundamental role of education in the fight against racism. Such education must begin in the family. The family itself must be the first community of openness, welcome and solidarity.

The Holy See has especially addressed the contribution and responsibility of religious communities in the fight against racism. Religion has all too often been exploited as a means to further deepen existing political, economic or social divisions. True religious belief is absolutely incompatible with racist attitudes and practices. Recent experiences of inter-religious dialogue offer the hope of greater understanding among religions. In many recent conflicts, in fact, the unity shown by religious leaders has been a significant factor in preventing or reducing conflict and in fostering reconciliation.

FRANCISCO PROANO ARANDI (Ecuador): As we have gathered here in Durban to discuss the issues of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, we must realize that the values at stake are at the very heart of the destiny of mankind. The challenge is that we must now work to ensure a history that was worthy of mankind. The extermination of indigenous populations, the slave trade and colonialism are all symptoms of the Western movement that stripped the world of its humanity. What those nations did not realize was that as their acts became more heinous, they were also stripping themselves of their own humanity.

The West must recognize the modern world as a multi-ethnic community and commence the process of re-humanization of colonizers and perpetrators of other crimes against humanity, as well as the victims. It must also work to foster economic and social development, which can, among other things, lead to the renegotiation of national debt or protection and promotion of human rights in developing countries.

Ecuador's Constitution recognizes the diversity of our country and thereby guarantees the rights of indigenous persons and those of African descent living there. That allows all citizens to retain ancestral land. The effects of colonization still linger, however, and the government and civil society are working together to eliminate that baggage from the past. Another problem that has drawn our attention is racism against migrants. There is no doubt that the world is facing a new wave of migration, which must be confronted within principles of shared respect for dignity and humanitarian law. We urge the creation of international policies, which will condemn discrimination against migrants from developed countries. Such policies should also condemn the creation of a second class made up of migrants within developed countries.

MARK WOLFF, Sovereign Military Order of Malta: Extremist organizations use various means of intimidation, including aggressive proselytism, harassment, threats, direct or indirect legal restrictions on religion and beliefs, physical violence and murder, as has tragically occurred in many parts of the world.

Minorities and women are predominantly vulnerable to extremist religious organizations. But extremists do not operate effectively without active or tacit support from local or governmental authorities. When both religious intolerance and discrimination against already vulnerable minorities intersect, the offences are not merely cumulative, but rather create a new and even more devastating violation of human rights.

The world's youth must be educated, at the earliest levels, to respect the rich diversity of the genuine religious beliefs held by humankind. The beauty of a quilt comprises the unique and genuine nature of each thread. An appreciation of the diverse religions of the world enhances and completes the potential of a human being. Religious intolerance and discrimination reduce, confine, subjugate and degrade civil society and human dignity.

SOUEF MOHAMED EL-AMINE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Comoros: If the second millennium was one of great discoveries, it was also the millennium of discrimination, genocide, great wars and other atrocities. In short, it can be summed up as a millennium of racism. This should be a world where regions are integrated, and where exclusion is shunned. Comoros is determined to fight for that. It is important here to address the evil concepts racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance represent. The discussions here should delve into the past to determine the path that has to be followed for the future. This Conference is necessary for that reason. It is here and now that we must start a strict countdown aimed at doing away with the vestiges of the scourges of racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance.

Comorians, like many other peoples of the world, 25 years ago expressed their wish to join the group of free nations. The image that is known of Comoros is of a country where there are many coup d'états. On top of that, there have been natural catastrophes and poverty. There has not been complete independence yet -- there was a dispute with a territory among the islands. A separatist movement has been causing problems. The Comoros entered the international community as a country of four islands. It has always been looked at as a cow with four legs, but for many years now, the cow has only had three legs.

Countries present should immediately pledge to decolonize, to give the people of those colonies an equal chance to partake in this new globalized world. Those people should have the right to determine their own fate, to decide on their own freedom. Is it conceivable that in this new world of communications that the world can still close its eyes to that problem? In 1975, when we won our independence, we were able to have a new educational system. The colonizing Power had a system that would not go very far into childhood.

TANIO BORG, Minister for Home Affairs of Malta: One of the reasons giving rise to different forms of racism is ignorance. Some people do not know what they do not know. Racism is grounded in false ideas and assumptions that cause prejudice. Most people tend to fear or distrust those whom they do not know. Another reason is that people often confuse poverty and a lack of education with the lack of intelligence. But perhaps the most powerful reason is that it is convenient to think so -- thus preserving privileges and control of power of one group of people over another. Politicians and political parties can play a role in combating racial discrimination and intolerance by ensuring that steps are taken to supervise, control, and combat fringe political groups that expound racist policies. They can also fight against the subtle racism that is sometimes ingrained in people's thinking, which never manifests itself in exterior acts, but lingers in people's minds.

A matter that is given due consideration in the Declaration is the plight of refugees and the link of such a tragedy with racist issues. The confusion in the public mind between refugees who are victims of unbridled persecution and illegal immigrants simply seeking a better future lingers on. The Assembly of Malta will have its first refugee law coming into force on 1 October. That is fully aligned with the European Union requirements, and work permits will be issued to recognized refugees. Additionally, most of Malta's reservations to the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees will be lifted in the coming weeks.

Negotiations relating to Malta's application to join the European Union have reached an advanced stage. Joining the European Union will enable Malta to participate in an active partnership with other Member States in dealing with racism and religious hatred. Malta will participate in the common European action to prohibit the incitement of racial or religious discrimination. Malta has closed the only remaining loophole in its legislation by extending a criminal prohibition against written racist material to general racist behaviour. It creates a new specific criminal offense of racist behaviour.

ANIBAL DELGADO FIALLOS, Minister, Director of the National Agrarian Institute of Honduras: Honduras is struggling like the other peoples of the developing world for a future in which we can all share the goods of economic and social progress. Honduras is a multi-ethnic, multilingual, multicultural society, founded 500 years ago based on the mixing of Indians, blacks and Europeans. At one time in its history, its most humble participants suffered through the evils of slavery and discrimination. That is why the people of Honduras sympathize with struggles for justice in any part of the world.

Slavery was abolished in Honduras in the opening years of its independent existence. Further, the Declaration of Independence of 1821 claimed that those of African descent were also citizens of the new republic. However, the indigenous peoples, those of African descent, and the poor in general continued to suffer from exclusion, degrading judgment at the hands of public officials, and unfair judgments from the courts. It is important to emphasize that in Honduras condemnable conduct still exists. It is the product of a perverse ideological structure that comes from mass media that promotes discrimination and intolerance.

In 1996, Hondurans of African descent began demanding their land back, and the Government entered into some commitments that are still being worked out. Now, any Government activities with a view to development in indigenous and African descent communities have to be carried out only with prior consultations, and the people can partake in the strategies of the development. The Government recently formulated a poverty-reduction policy that called for development in indigenous and African descent areas. The profound poverty in those communities is not the result of a lack of will or specific racial conditions. What are needed are real reform measures. Reparations that addressed the returning of land are needed. The ancestral
lands had been subject to improper expropriation. The land was taken and registered in the name of foreigners and corporations. It is understood that this is not an easy question. In Honduras, those lands are among the best in the country -- among the most fertile and best irrigated.

IMELDA HENKIN, Deputy Executive Director (Management) of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA): Though the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights", those words ring hollow for all those whose rights have been violated or never recognized. Respect for human rights begins with respect for each individual. Today, I will talk to you about how the UNFPA is working for human rights and equality in its efforts to ensure reproductive health in developing countries.

All our endeavours are guided by the 1994 Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development. That Programme recognizes the human rights and special needs of vulnerable groups such as migrants, refugees and displaced persons. It also acknowledges the special needs of those who suffer from racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. We have found that understanding the overall socio-cultural environment of a country leads to a better positioning of population issues.

The Fund is an advocate of the proposition, recognized for over 30 years, that all couples and individuals have the basic right to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children, as well as the right to the information and means to do so. Our mission statement affirms our commitment to reproductive rights, gender equality and male responsibility, as well as the empowerment of women everywhere. We are also fully aware of the important linkages between population and development and human rights. The Fund also supports reproductive health information and services to meet the needs of those who have no access to them, including indigenous and other marginalized peoples.

Another group in special need is women and girls who have been forced to leave their homes, displaced by war, famine, persecution and natural disaster. They face difficult conditions during pregnancy and childbirth and a heightened risk of sexual violence. Trafficking in women and girls remains a troubling issue. The Fund is increasing its efforts to promote the implementation of human rights instruments, by focusing on respect for the rights to sexual reproductive health for both men and women and the elimination of violence against women, in particular.

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