Address by the Chair of the Presidency of BiH

Mr. Jozo Krizanovic, M.Sc

.at the Third UN Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination,Xenophobia
and similar forms of intolerance (WCAR)

Durban, South Africa, 31. August - 4. September 2001.



Ladies and Gentlemen:

During the past two decades of fighting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and similar forms of intolerace and human rights violations, that have been marked by the two previous Conferences, significant advances have been noted in supression and restraining that phenomena in different parts of the world and their sanctioning as a crime against conscience and dignity of the Humanity.

Those advances are reflected in the initiated peace processes and implemented social and political changes - mainly in democratic transition in a number of countries - as well as in development of international instruments and mechanisms.

The biggest results were achieved in rising awareness and strengthening principles that relate to respecting rights of each person, regardless of their race, color, sex, religion, political belief, national or ethnic origin and social status. We can freely say that the principles of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights have become a part of culture and a way of thinking in the free and democratic world community.

Persistent struggle of democratic forces, illustrated by achievements in the host country of this Conference - South Africa, has enabled a gradual increase in the overall level of human rights standards in the world, along with overcoming existing differences and colonial heritage.

Achievements of that struggle for equality and human rights have contributed to spreading of the understanding that a full respect of the basic principles has no alternative as a cornerstone of both domestic and international stability, and, at the same time, as a factor of mutual understanding and cooperation between different cultures and civilizations.

Unfortunately, despite of such a significant positive change in the general climate at local and international level, we have to express our serious concern that the basic proclaimed goals in the previous three decades have not been accomplished to the extent that would prevent further massive human rights violations and demonstrations of racism, racial discrimination and intolerance.

The end of the second millennium witnessed numerous drastic human rights violations that shocked the democratic world, which, by its origin and manifestations, fit into the topic of this Conference.

Toughness of the problem is witnessed by the fact that preparations for this Conference could not result in more concrete solutions for a number of very serious and open issues throughout the world, such as so-called low-intensity conflicts and issues of victims of colonialism, despite of many recent warnings and examples.

One of such cataclysmic examples is certainly Bosnia and Herzegovina, a small European country where massive and drastic human rights violations took place in the previous decade, resulting in over two hundred thousands of victims, ethnic cleansing and displacement of about two and a half million persons, which is more than one half of the country's populace. Furthermore, the main manifestations of those human rights violations included expulsions, detentions, physical violence of all kinds, sieges and systematic destruction of entire cities and settlements.

Why repeating these well-known facts and data at this Conference at well? Exactly because they represent sad consequences of chauvinistic policies based on ethnic differences and aimed against members of other ethic groups within the same country.

This inspires us to ask the following questions:

What is wrong in the existing system of fighting racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerances, that opens space for their iteration and survival?

Are those caused by possible deficiencies in the existing national and international instruments for human rights protection, or by their inadequate implementation?

Can prevention of human rights violations be addressed separately from prevention of wars, which have themselves been long sanctioned as crimes against humanity?

How do globalization and contradictions in modern social development reflect on stability of individual countries, and how they influence emergence and survival of racism and discrimination?

Answers to these complex questions cannot be fully provided by this Conference alone. However, Bosnia and Herzegovina expresses a hope that all participant countries will invest a common effort in searching for most favorable measures and solutions for divergent issues. We also hope that this Conference will contribute to prevention of at least drastic human rights violations in future. To that end, Bosnia and Herzegovina is fully open for cooperation.

At this point, I would like to address some aspects relevant to the Conference, using examples and issues present in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

First, I wish to express out full support to parts of the proposed Declaration and Action Plan that relate to the enormous significance of education and media for achieving the goals of the Conference.

In our recent past we experienced how big role destructive and politicized media and education can play in spreading intolerance and discrimination. Today in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with help by international community, our efforts are directed towards overcoming those still existing retrograde factors, despite of resistance, and thus towards faster approach to democratic world.

Perhaps an international media forum, under auspices of UN, can be a way along our aspirations for suppression and elimination of the modern forms of racism. We therefore invite all countries of South-Eastern Europe to implement the Charter on Free Media as an instrument of the Stability Pact in South-Eastern Europe.

For all sufferings it has gone under, Bosnia and Herzegovina remains a reminder of potential extent of evil arising from hatred and malicious interpretation of variety in a society as a weakness instead as a source of richness and humanism.

Painful experience from the recent past and prevailing democratic orientation of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina direct us towards a persistent commitment to a struggle and efforts to reach general equality, justice, democratic achievements, as well as the highest human rights standards, on the international level and in each country per se.

No lesser attention should be given to prevention of human rights violation in areas of economic development and labor, and in this way as well we invite all international and national factors and civil society organizations to take an active part in activities in this field.

We wish to leverage the current activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, on preparation of the report on implementation of the International covenant on elimination of all forms of racial discrimination for an all-pervasive analysis and fulfillment of our international obligations.

In order to be successful, we need continuous efforts in strengthening national institutions, democratic values and rule of law on all levels.

Along with full appreciation and gratitude for understanding and assistance, we expect support for solving justified expectations by families of missing persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who are victims of discrimination and intolerance, and therefore we suggest allocation of an appropriate place in the Conference documents for adequate mechanisms.

In the same context, we support analogous instruments for African and other regions in the world, and express our sincere solidarity with victims of all forms of racism.

Finally, I would like to express my sincere hope that results and conclusions of this Conference will be implemented faster and more complete than before, and that we will not need "twenty seven years" for further advance towards our common goal - elimination of racism and related human rights violation.

Personal example and grandiose work of esteemed Nelson Mandela serves us as a lasting inspiration on that road.