State of Bahrain
Ibrahim Ali Al-Majed,
Head of delegation of the State of Bahrain
to the Third World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination,
Xenophobia and Related Intolerance Durban, South Africa
31 August - 7 September 2001
I have the pleasure to convey to you the greetings of His Highness Shaikh Hamad Bin Essa Al-Khalifa, Amir of the State of Bahrain, and to present the congratulations of the State of Bahrain upon your election a.s President of this important international conference, held in South Africa, a country that has seen some of the worst racial practices in the past, when its people suffered greatly from apartheid for a number of decades before the disappearance of that regime. In this regard, we cannot but praise the heroic struggle carried out by the people of South Africa against apartheid, with the support of the international community, which led ultimately to the elimination of that hateful policy, and restored South Africa's prominent position in the world community.
I also have the pleasure to express thanks and appreciation to your country's government for the measures and efforts that have contributed to the successful preparation for this conference, and for the welcome and hospitality of your people.
The convening of this World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance is an important occasion on which to reaffirm international commitment to the combating of racism and racial discrimination, and to recognise the sacrifices made by the various peoples of the world, as well as to recognise the efforts that have increased international and public awareness of the evils of such inhuman practices. We view those practices as a serious violation of human rights, most of which also constitute crimes against humanity. The international community should deal with those inhuman phenomena seriously and resolutely, whether in times of peace or during wars. It should be watchful for such practices and ready at all times to combat and eliminate them. We should maintain a strong and effective political will to investigate unjust practices whether past or present, and to put in place effective programmes against racism and racial discrimination to eliminate such hateful practices, and to reach our noble
goal of creating a true human family based on freedom, equality and respect for human dignity.
We believe that ignoring racism and racial discrimination in modern society helps, directly or indirectly, to perpetuate such practices. We note that ignoring poverty in our modern societies also helps the continuation of these phenomena. The spread of poverty and marginalisation leads to the segregation of some individuals and groups from society. This requires the efforts of the international community to deal firmly with and eliminate this phenomenon.
Xenophobia, ethnic cleansing, extermination and slavery are all practices that must be outlawed and eliminated from the international community, and their perpetrators punished.
We also regret the presence of racist and discriminatory practices among individuals and groups on the basis of sex, language, religion, belief, and social and economic status. We believe that such situations also make those
individuals and groups the victims of various forms of racism and racial discrimination.
We therefore, demand that increasing evidence of such practices must not be ignored, and that strategies, policies and programmes must be put in place to eliminate all forms of discrimination and intolerance.
The State of Bahrain, based on its heritage, values, and its Islamic religion, and believing in the words of Allah in the Holy Koran:
"You people, we created you as males and females, and made you nations and tribes in order to know each other. Those of you who are the most honoured by God are those who fear God most. God knows everything" believes that humanity constitutes one human family with no difference among its individuals, and therefore regrets the presence of political, economic and social situations in some areas of the world that help the spread of racial
discrimination and intolerance. Furthermore, it believes that equality, development, and self-determination together constitute important foundations for the elimination of racism and racial discrimination. In furtherance of this, the State of Bahrain calls for the urgent enactment of international, regional, and national procedures and regulations that have as their aim the achievement of a better life for all.
Bahrain further affirms that equal participation of all countries in forming a just international political and economic system will inevitably contribute to the elimination of those hateful phenomena. In this regard, it may be possible to benefit from globalisation, a dynamic power that can be directed to the benefit of all countries and peoples of the world, while avoiding its negative effects upon human right, in particular the widening economic and social gap that it can create.
Foreign occupation built upon oppression of selfdetermination, settlements, and upon policies and laws of
racial discrimination with the aim of continuing the occupation of the territories of others by force of arms and exploiting its natural resources, conflicts with the principles and aims of the United Nations Charter. It constitutes a serious violation of human rights and international humanitarian law, and is a hateful form of racial segregation and discrimination, as well as being a crime against humanity and a threat to international peace and security.
This being the judgement of international humanitarian] law on foreign occupation, it is beyond doubt that the decades-old Israeli occupation of the occupied Arab territories will merit the harshest of descriptions. It has caused serious hardship for the Palestinian people and prevented them even from conducting their ordinary daily life. It also led to great human suffering that has had a negative effect upon the social fabric in the occupied
Israeli procedures and policies are based on racial discrimination, and are represented by their discriminatory
laws, such as the law of the right of return for Jews only and the exclusion of the Palestinians, the indigenous citizens. In addition, their practices include:
the shilling of cities and villages by the most advanced weapons;
the murder of civilians;
a policy of collective punishment such as blockades, starving the Palestinian people by closing cities and villages, erecting military barriers at the entrances to the Palestinian cities and the prevention of movement between them, demolishing of houses, preventing Palestinian labourers from
reaching their places of work, closing international passages;
allowing the settlers to attack the Palestinians.
All of these procedures and policies undoubtedly prove that Israel is practicing a systematic policy of racial discrimination against the Palestinian people, who live on their national land and struggle for self-determination through freedom, independence, and the establishment of
an independent State according to the decisions of international legitimacy.
The continuation of such racially discriminatory policies will not lead to an environment conducive to peace, but will instead entrench hatred and spite, and increase resistance and violence, making it difficult to find solutions in the future. We therefore call upon Israel, the occupying State, to stop such discriminatory policies that increase tension and resistance in the region, and to end its occupation of the Arab occupied territories. In particular, we believe that the Middle East is in need of a just and comprehensive peace, that would enable its peoples to attain economic and social development, and help them to overlook their past, which has been full of wars and struggles.
The State of Bahrain was fully aware of the dangers of racism and racial discrimination before its independence, and therefore enacted regulations and laws to prevent such
practices. It is thus no wonder that we find that Article 18 of the Constitution of the State of Bahrain, issued in 1973, reads:
"People are equal in human dignity without discrimination as to sex, origin, language, religion, or belief, and citizens shall be equal in public rights and duties before the law".
Bahrain's Penal Code, Article 172, makes it an offence to incite hatred or contempt for a group of people.
In addition, Article 41 of law no. 14 of 1979 [concerning printing and publications], prohibits the publication of material inciting hatred or contempt of a group of people. Further, the law prohibits any organisation that has activities related to discrimination or incitement, in accordance with [the law of special societies] no. 21 of 1989, Article 3 of which makes unlawful any societies whose purpose is to harm the social system of the State or the violation of public system. It is therefore illegal to form any society whose aims harm the principles of
equality and non-discrimination upon which the Bahraini society is built.
In addition, the National Charter, proposed by H.H. the beloved Amir of the country, and adopted with a majority of over 98% in a popular referendum, confirmed that equality among the citizens, justice, and equality of opportunity are basic pillars of Bahraini society. The State is responsible for securing these for all citizens, without discrimination. This comes within a more comprehensive principle: the principle of equality among people without discrimination as to human dignity.
The State of Bahrain's accession on 27 March 1990 to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 1965, reflects the belief of the Government and the people of Bahrain in the principle of equality and the rej ection of all forms of racial discrimination. This Convention became binding upon all authorities in the State of Bahrain, having become one of the laws of the country. Non-compliance with the Convention is thus a violation of the Constitution and the law, and those aggrieved can resort to the courts for judgement. This matter is facilitated for all, including the right to legal assistance.
In conclusion, I would like to confirm that the State of Bahrain remains committed to the principles of equality and justice, both in its domestic and foreign policies. This is not only through its Constitution, Charter or its accession to international human rights treaties in particular those concerning racial discrimination, but also through actual application and practices in the political, economic, social and cultural fields. This helps explain the rise of Bahrain and its [cultural appearance], which has resulted in a prominent position in the United Nations' annual Human Development Reports.
The delegation of my country looks forward to a valuable and fruitful outcome to this Conference, through the adoption of a declarartion and plan of action for combating racism and racial discrimination in the next decade of the 21st century.
Salam and thank you , Mr President.