First and foremost, I would like to convey the heartfelt condoleances from the Brazilian people for the passing away of President Thabo M'Beki's father.

Madam President

1. I would like to congratulate you and the members of the Board on your election. I am certain that under your guidance our work in the next few days will allow for overcoming difficulties and will undoubtedly live up to the high expectations involved in this Conference. I should like as well to pay homage to Ms. Mary Robinson, who as the Secretary General of this Conference has provided leadership and efficiency to the preparatory works. On behalf of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and the people of Brazil I salute and thank the Government and people of South Africa for their hospitality and efforts in the organization of this event.

Madam President,

2. The creation of the United Nations translated the reaction of the international community against the destructive effects of intolerance. Today, we take additional steps in order to ensure that the original goal, developed through the consolidation of universal human rights principles be reflected in effective justice equality and dignity for all, without any descrimination, in a world réndered Gloser by technology, communications and informatics.

3. The Tact that we are in South Africa under the aegis of the United Nations reaffirming the universal principle of equality and contemplating fair and equitable solutions for the problems of our times bears great symbolism. South Africa is the evidence that justice is an attainable aim. This country, having suffered for decades one of the most heinous forets of racial discimination, the Apartheid, now builds up a social and political order based on democracy and has been doing that by avoidinq the temptations of violence.

4. In this transformation process, the United Nations and the international community have played an important role, but the greatest merit belongs undoubteddly to the people of this land, who have learned to recognize and to redefine themselves on the basis of tolerance and on the will to reconcile themselves. Therefore, the Tact that we are in South Africa constitutes an incentive for the construction of a more equal world.

5. The shaping of my country bears the mark of diversity. The Brazilian people find their origins in every continent. We are diverse, we are different, and still we identify ourselves in a common project of building a society which will be more equitable. However, in Brazil we still suffer the effects of inequality that finds its roots in our colonial background, in the abominable chapter of slavery and in all the injustices perpetrated against native Brazilians over several centuries.
The same diversity that characterizes and enriches us allows for the perception that in Brazil differences exist not only in terms of colours, beliefs and opinions, but also in terms of equality of rights and opportunities. In fact, our democracy is still in the making. We are aware that its benefits do not reach the whole of the Brazilian population. Such an inequality assumes the form of poverty, social exclusion, underdevelopment and, in many aspects, the form of discrimination.

6. Fortunately, the consolidation of the Brazilian democracy has fostered the discussion of questions that hinder the development of our common project of building a society which is just, inclusive and benefits everyone. Since its inauguration speech, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso has opened a new phase in the treatment of the racial question in the country: for the first time in our history Brazil's highest authority acknowledged the very existence and negative impacts of racism and racial discrimination. In the same token, he has established a political dialogue with the Brazilian Black Movement. In its 10th Report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in 1995, the Brazilian Government recognized that discrimination persisted in a country that had already intended to be a racial democracy. We believe that by acknowledging the existence of racial discrimination, Brazil has taken a first step to overvome such problems. We still have a lot to do in this direction - and we have done- but Brazil is not yet the country that we want and deserve. We want a fair country without discrimination or prejudices.

7. We want a fair world. That is why we have come to Durban. Brazil brings along it's experience and is willing to exchange it with the international community. We believe that it is necessary to deploy some joint efforts in order to eliminate any manifestation of injustice, inequality or discrimination against migrants, refugees, gypsies and other persons that, for different reasons, need to displace themselves through different countries or regions. Human rights will never be universal if their protection is not granted to all without distinction. The right to have rights and to find adequate protection by the legal system is an essential condition for a jsut and stable international order.

8. Our delegation reflects the ethnic and cultural diversity present in my country. It reflects as well our background of tolerance. Domestically, the Brazilian government and society have mobilized themselves in order to bring to South Africa a legitimate and constructive contribution. On our way to Durban we established a Committee and held for the first time in the history of the country a National Conference at which Government and civil society alike identified problems and proposed measures to tackle racism and intolerance that still plague us. Through this effort we have been able to come up with a report that summarizes diagnoses and proposals that will be discussed and translated in affirmative actions and policies.

9. My country has been actively engaged in the preparation of this meeting. We are proud to have drafted, together with the American and Caribbean countries, a balanced and comprehensive document. The Santiago Declaration and Programme of Action cover meaningful questions that are prioritary for the development of democratic and socially inclusive societies in the Americas, such as the situation of afro-descendants, indigenous peoples, without ignoring the victims of multiple
discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation or physical challenges.

10. Over the Preparatory Conference we exchanged ideas and tried to find common views, so the output of this III World Conference could be as consequential as possible. The Brazilian Delegation wishes that within some days we have a Declaration and a Plan of Action that do reflect our diversity, but convey and translate our disposition and our committment to work together for a world in which racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance are banned.

Madam President,

11. The problems posed by the themes of this Conference are presented in every country represented in this plenary. Every country, without exceptions. The re-emerging of xenophobic manifestations, the materialization of hatred based on the non-acceptance of differences, as well as religious conflicts are concrete instances of such problems. We do not believe that the nominal condemnation of a particular people or country is constructive for the overcoming of the shortsightedness that characterizes the topics that our Conference will be covering. We all are at the same time accomplices and victims. What connects us here is the acknowledgment of a common problem for which nobody is more responsible than anybody. This Conference is not a tribunal. However, if one of the ties that binds us together is the recognition of a common problem, another aspect uniting us is good will and determination to solve it.

12. Bearing diversity in mind, we are here to fight for a world that practices tolerance and does not harass, causes suffering to or discriminates against on grounds of personal differences. In this permanent effort the Brazilian Delegation brings a lesson of tolerance and of recognition of the differences that unite us. President Mandela recalls that "nobody is born hating a person for the colour of its skin, or for the origin. People learn to hate and if they can learn to hate, they can as well learn to love, for love is much more natural in the human heart than hatred". The failure of our discussions in Durban would mean a defeat greater than we can conceive. Beyond the differences that singularize us, there is the innate humanity and dignity that identifies us all. It is not possible to combat intolerance with further intolerance. The example should therefore be given by us. This is the beauty of our task.

Thank you