Madam President,

Let me start by conveying the condolences from the Government and the people of Botswana to President Mbeki, his family, and the Government and people of South Africa on the passing on, of the gallant son of Africa, liberator and educator, Govan Mbeki.

Madam President,

2. Let me also take this opportunity to thank you and congratulate you on your election as the President of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. Madam, you also deserve commendation for getting this important and difficult Conference off to a good start, as well as for the manner in which you are steadfastly steering our deliberations.

3. Allow me also to express my gratitude to the Government and the people of South Africa for the hospitality that has been extended to my delegation and the impressive arrangements that have been put in place for this landmark Conference.

4. I should also like to congratulate High Commissioner Robinson for the diplomatic skills and positive energy,, which she commandeered to garner support and commitment for this Conference. The fact that we have all been able to converge in the coastal city of Durban, in a country, which not
long ago was reeling from the effects of injustices perpetrated by racism and racial discrimination, is an achievement for humanity.

5. The end of the cold war and the arrival of the 21st century as well as the end of apartheid and institutionalised racism, provide an opportunity for re-examination and reflection by all members of the human race, and different societies; in the way we relate to one another. Although the offensive statutes relating to institutionalized racism have been repealed from the law books, the feelings and practices of racial hatred and racial discrimination remain pervasive in the minds and behaviour of some peoples the world over. The resurgence of racial superiority, ethnicity and other forms of intolerance and the perpetration of these evils through literature and information technology should be considered as a serious threat to the relative peace and stability, which the world has so far enjoyed since the last world war.

6. Madam President,

The world community should send a strong message at this Conference that it is not only awake to the evils of racism, racialism, xenophobia and related intolerance but that it will do whatever is possible in terms of education, sensitization, information, legislation and other means to eliminate it from our actions, behaviour and if possible from our collective psyche and relegate it to the dustbin of shameful legacy of the past century.
Durban provides an opportunity and challenge for all of us to bequeath the new generation a better world than we inherited. It implores all of us to work with unity of purpose and determination, and come up with meaningful resolutions and programmes which will make a difference. The past injustices and their drastic consequences should be acknowledged and be truly repented by the perpetrators. Consequently, there should be a genuine and concerted effort to address and redress the imbalances brought about by these injustices.

No-one can deny that sla very, transatlantic slave trade and colonialism were an abomination and a crime against humanity which brought about immense suffering, particularly to Africans and African descendants. It is therefore, our moral responsibility that at this Conference, time and collective intellectual energy should be galvanized towards finding lasting solutions and fitting measures to tackle these imbalances head on. There are more issues on which we agree than those on which we disagree. Durban should provide a magnet that unites humanity and not create divisions.

7. Madam President,

Botswana has enshrined, in its Constitution, the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals. Every Motswana, irrespective of race, colour, religion, gender, political opinion or place of origin is protected by the Constitution and guaranteed these rights and freedoms. The Constitution further ensures that the enjoyment of these rights and freedoms by any individual does not prejudice the rights and freedoms of others or the public interest.
The World Conference Against Racism addresses issues which are embodied not only in the language of the Constitution of Botswana and other forms of legislations but also in the daily lives of an average Botswana citizen.

8. There is a conscious effort on the part of Government and the Private Sector to mainstream gender in all aspects of development, with a view to removing all obstacles in terms of law and practice which discriminate against women and children.

9. There are also programmes for the elderly, the handicapped and destitutes which are accommodated within the country's limited resources.

10. Madam President,

As a country, Botswana has been blessed by the accident of history in that it has always enjoyed racial harmony and tolerance amongst all its people, despite having on its fringes, regimes which practiced racial discrimination and racial segregation. We have also managed to emphasize values and aspirations which unite us as a nation than dwell on those that divide us. Botswana encourages the promotion and infusion of different cultures through language, music, dance, dress and cuisine in its national activities.

11. Botswana has also adopted a national youth policy which is aimed at recognizing the contribution of the youth in the country's national development and encourages them to participate in wider aspects of the economy. The policy is elaborated in a Youth Plan of Action which seeks to develop a generation of youth whose moral stature,, needs and aspirations are in line with the national vision and also aims at alleviating poverty through the involvement and engagement of the youth.

12. Madam President,

In our country there are several minorities made up of foreign residents, refugees, immigrants and settlers who have been integrated in the mainstream of the Botswana's society and are making meaningful contribution in all aspects of the country's economy.

13. The Botswana society has also a wealth of ethnic minorities, who enrich the culture and traditions of the nation of Botswana. Among this mosaic we have the Basarwa. These people, because of the uniqueness of their culture and lifestyle, have attracted the interest and attention of anthropologists, the international community and the media, particularly in the run-up to this Conference.

14. Basarwa are an ethnic group, who form an integral part of the Botswana nation and population. They are found throughout the region of Southern Africa. In Botswana, about 26, 000 Basarwa are scattered throughout; various parts of the country. The majority of Basarwa have been integrated in the mainstream of the Botswana society.

15. Madam President,

If we believe in the tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that "all people are born free and equal"! we are even more convinced that Basarwa should not be denied the opportunity to enjoy and benefit from the natural and national resources which are enjoyed by the majority of Botswana. This conviction through constructive actions, is showing positive results. There are now Basarwa children who have acquired education from primary school through to university and are working and contributing to the various sectors of our economy, including working directly with their own communities. Some are members of the NGO delegation to this historic conference.

16. Botswana Government encourages all its citizens to take advantage of various programmes which are designed to uplift living standards and to join the mainstream of the Botswana. The most effective and practical way of achieving this is to encourage those of our citizens, who live in remote and sparsely populated areas, to relocate closer to places where facilities can be availed to them, in a cost effective manner or to where facilities already exist.

17. Turning back to the main theme of the Conference, let me conclude by reaffirming my country's commitment to the resolutions that will emerge from this Conference and which will be designed to mobilize the world opinion against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

18. We wish to urge those with resources and technological means to lend support, both moral and financial, towards all the programmes and projects which aim to reverse the effects of racism and racial discrimination emanating from the effects of slavery, colonialism and racial discrimination. It is only when we are magnanimous and honourable enough to acknowledge the tragic consequences of history, that true reconciliation and genuine healing can be realized. We owe it to future generations We owe it to humanity.

19. We extend our support and render commitment to the African Union and all the initiatives which have been adopted to address the imbalances, the majority of which are due to the tragic consequences of past legacies.

20. We urge the international community to raise its collective moral conscience and act decisively to stamp out the evil consequences of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Let the name Durban be synonymous with the names of other historic cities that made a difference to humanity.

21. I thank you for your attention.