Madam President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Central and Eastern European countries associated with the European Union - Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia - and the associated countries Cyprus, Malta and Turkey align themselves with this declaration.

With all its partners throughout the world, the European Union has come to Durban to solemnly proclaim the rebirth of the universal alliance against racism, an alliance against all forms of rejection of others, an alliance for the dignity of all and for world peace.

The fact that the global response to racism is to be determined and solemn commitments to be made in South Africa of all countries is certainly a powerful symbol. Racism has taken such heavy toll of so many of the citizens of the country of Nelson Mandela. The rejection of apartheid and the courageous struggle of a small group of men and women imbued with a love of liberty and a sense of the dignity of every human being, who won over an entire nation and gained the increasing support of the international community, have gone down in the history of the human race.

Madam President, in expressing our gratitude to your country and to the city of Durban I do not simply mean to thank you for your wonderful hospitality, but to say how important South Africa's example is for the world, for it has had the courage to call on present and future generations to take the path of reconciliation between victims and the authors of their suffering.

The European Union stands shoulder to shoulder with you and with the members of the General Committee in seeking to ensure the success of the Conference. On the Union's behalf, I should also like to thank all the Chairmen of the Preparatory Committees for the work they have done to make our task today easier and to help us to move towards a consensus. I should also like to include the Secretary-General of our Conference, Mrs Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Her unshakeable determination, her deep understanding and her powers of persuasion are vital to guide us through our proceedings.

At the dawn of this millennium, the consciousness-raising which is the aim of the Conference is an exceptional opportunity to move ahead in our quest for the progress of the human race. We want to believe that such progress is an integral part of human nature. We want to believe that what is right and good will triumph in the end.

A Conference such as this is something both self-evident, complex and necessary.


It is self-evident in terms of its objective: to combat all contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Our message must be clear and strong: racism and racial discrimination are grave violations of human rights and a threat to
democratic societies and fundamental values. They are often the source of conflicts and they must be fought with every legal and democratic means at our disposal.

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination is the universal basis for our determination.

The results of the Conference must therefore be geared fundamentally towards a practical plan of action for the present and the future, drawn up in mutual consultation, so that we can better implement specific measures to fight discrimination.

This being the fundamental objective, a consensus should also be self-evident. The ills which are the subject of the Conference are global phenomena from which no continent, no region and no country is spared. No one is immune from a glare of hatred, hostile or threatening behaviour, moral or physical violence. Every day human beings suffer and succumb, the innocent victims of these rampant ills. Every day spirits are broken, minds are damaged, the integrity of men and women is violated. The struggle against such ills should therefore naturally unite us all, inspiring us to join together and say that this need not be so. For racism is a redoubtable hunter, which may pounce on its prey at any time. Let us prove that we are capable, by collective action and mobilisation, to reverse the roles. Let the hunter become the hunted; let it go to ground and disappear.


The Conference is, however, also complex, as the preparatory work for it has shown.

This is because it touches on the fundamental nature of human beings, who have the right to a life in which their dignity and that of others is respected, who long for non-discriminatory consideration in their diversity of culture, origin - national and ethnic -, religion and convictions, and who aspire to equality of opportunity for access to goods and services. With such cries and appeals for greater happiness and increased well-being it is therefore not surprising that this Conference, which is also a "sounding board" for sufferings experienced, martyrdoms endured and acts of oppression imposed, should be overlaid with a great many legitimate emotions.

These emotions relate to the memory of the past, to differing analyses of the underlying causes of racism and to a feeling of bitterness and revulsion at the tragedies which have stained and still stain various regions of the globe. Our collective task will be to listen to each other in order to gain a better mutual understanding and to exchange experiences in order to learn from them. The reference to the past, with the hateful and dishonourable practices of trafficking in human beings and slavery, and with the reminder of the immense sufferings caused in the colonial era, has been salutary. We recognise that slavery and the slave trade have contributed to existence of contemporary forms of racism and racial discrimination. They have also contributed to the poverty, under-development, marginalisation, social exclusion, economic disparities, instability and insecurity which affect many people in the world.

To ignore the past would be to forget the pressing need to state bluntly that such practices are intolerable and must never reappear. Let us remember the many sufferings inflicted by deeds committed at different moments in history.

Let us bow respectfully before all the victims. Let us never forget them. Let us pledge to ensure that these misdeeds shall never again be committed.



By laying the foundations for our "duty to remember" and for passing on the knowledge of past sufferings - our "duty to know" - the Conference restores an identity to all the anonymous victims of past practices. This recovered identity must be a constant reminder motivating us to increase our collective endeavours to construct the future.

Lastly, the Conference is necessary. The hydra of racism, of racial discrimination and of the xenophobia and intolerance associated with it, is constantly raising its head, with ever-changing methods and techniques including the misuse of new technologies, and it renews itself while drawing upon ideologies and pretexts which are just as repugnant as in the past. It is high time to reinforce and develop our action at all levels: local, national, regional and worldwide. The duty of permanent vigilance, prevention by education and training, protection of the most severely affected and vulnerable groups and integration of the equality of the sexes into policies is more urgently necessary than ever.

This must involve reinforcing the legal framework responsible for its effective implementation and by dynamic interaction between governments - the guardians of the general interest - non-governmental organisations and other protagonists of civil society.


The European Union is determined to make every effort to ensure the success of the Conference. This will be measured by its actual impact on daily life. Our messages must be strong and clear, supported by visible and practical measures as part of a truly operational action plan.

On 16 July 2001, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the European Union set out our objectives and our expectations for the present and the future, as well as our responses to the concerns of the past. The conclusions of the Council of the Union are public and have been distributed to this Conference. I will therefore refrain from discussing them. On the basis of this reference framework, the European Union has drafted proposals which are intended as a helping hand to all participants to arrive together at decisions and practical guidelines and to develop a partnership of solidarity among us all.

However, I shall merely allow myself to make a few remarks on the basis of experience in Europe, the region which I know best.

History teaches us first and foremost a lesson of humility. Over the centuries, as in other parts of the world, history in Europe has been marked by great contrasts. The best has accompanied the worst. Europe has been by turns victor and vanquished, dominant and martyred, fraternal and fratricide, a fountain of generous ideas as well as a vehicle for abject concepts, expansionist and introverted, egocentric and altruistic, responsible for immense progress but also for appalling acts of destruction. It has been visionary in developing the fundamental freedoms and in creating modern constitutional States. Yet it has also been the scene of ideologies in total opposition to the fundamental values of humanity. It has experienced absolute horror with the unique tragedy of the Holocaust, in which millions of men, women and children were exterminated in a planned, methodical and quasi-scientific manner.

This past, with its dark as well as its brighter sides, forms part of the "collective consciousness" of the European Union, which has sought to consolidate the positive aspects of its heritage and to draw the lessons from that which must never happen again.


I should like to put forward three points of relevance to our Conference.

Firstly, the European venture was originally founded on reconciliation between States which had torn each other apart. The progressive exercise of shared sovereignty, freely agreed between the Members of the Union, bears eloquent testimony to a successful process of reconciliation, leading to the creation of an area of peace, stability and political, economic, social and human solidarity. With the associated countries, now applying for EU membership, it is a story of "unity regained".

Today's Europe is a Europe of peace. Other experiments, following a similar approach, have been undertaken in various regions of the world. The European Union cannot but welcome this, since reconciliation is a fundamental instrument in the fight against racism and xenophobia.

Secondly, the European Union is based upon principles - common to all its members - of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. Another step forward was made at the European Council in Nice with the proclamation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. These foundations offer guarantees to citizens in the territory of the Union. A whole legislative arsenal is now in place. Education, training, prevention, increased information and a greater awareness of the realities of racism and exclusion are also at the heart of the policies of the Union and of each Member State. I should like to emphasise here the important contribution made by the European Commission, a point that will be taken up by its representative on this platform.

Of course, the European Union is by no means immune from flaws and shortcomings in terms of individual or group behaviour. Such behaviour is unacceptable and reprehensible, and it is all the more necessary to exercise unwavering vigilance so as to prevent or, stamp it out. The Durban Conference should remind us of all our duties and provide a stimulus to ever more effective action against racism throughout the world, including Europe.

Thirdly, the European Union has long since opened a new chapter in its external relations by developing agreements of partnership - and hence of co-development - in Africa, Latin America and Asia as well as in the area around the Mediterranean. The central theme of its multidisciplinary development cooperation policy is that of lasting development aimed at the eradication of poverty. That policy, coupled with the development of the common foreign and security policy, especially in the area of conflict management and prevention, is making its own particular contribution to reducing inequalities and to preventing crises, which are the source and consequence of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia.

It is also in this context that the European Union supports the New Initiative for Africa decided on by the Summit of African Heads of State in Lusaka.

Other countries and the United Nations system are also key players in the development of such partnerships. However, it would be improper to indulge in smug self-satisfaction. Recent tragedies, on the Union's own doorstep and in other parts of the world, continue to challenge us to act faster and more effectively in order to prevent new outbreaks of hatred and racial discrimination.

The long-running tragedy in the Middle East is a major source of concern. That is primarily a territorial dispute, a clash between two sets of suffering, with too many innocent victims on both sides. The Israeli population has not been spared and the Palestinian population is paying an even heavier price. The positions of the parties involved and the peace endeavours being made, in particular by the European Union, are well known, but this Conference is not the place to discuss them. As we are all aware, efforts to put a stop to the violence and reactivate the peace process are going on elsewhere. Here in Durban, our first job is to reaffirm emphatically that incitement to hatred and all acts of racism and racial discrimination committed by individuals or groups of individuals are unjustifiable and reprehensible, wherever they occur.

Madam President,

The preparations for the Conference have been intensive and difficult. They have enabled us to understand one another more clearly, to benefit from each other's experience, to clarify our thinking and to identify individual concerns and limits.

That stage is now over. The time has come to conclude and take decisions in a spirit of cooperation and unshakeable resolve to succeed.

As political leaders, we have to address the basic issues, since history and public opinion in our countries would look on us with incomprehension if we failed to grasp the unique opportunity afforded by this Conference to help shape the new humanity of the 21st century. In such a noble cause, let us have the courage to succeed for the benefit of present and future generations.