I would like to thank the South African authorities and the people of South Africa for hosting this Conference. It is hard to think of anywhere else in the world where the struggle against racism and discrimination has been more significant. It is also hard to think of any other place where a people has made a greater effort to overcome its own history and advance the development of fundamental values such as tolerance, respect for diversity and respect to the rights of all human beings.

The road that has brought us to South Africa has been a long one. Since the General Assembly convened the Conference, we have been involved in numerous actions and activities. We have reached important agreements, though difficulties still remain. Today the world is coming to Durban with the same conviction with which it formerly condemned the repugnant form of racism suffered by millions of South Africans. It is impossible to accept the continuation of social and political policies and actions that destroy human dignity.

Our present task is to continue the struggle for the right to live in a more tolerant and inclusive world. For the right to have rights. We have no option but to continue since no society can claim to be entirely free of the phenomena which have brought us to this Conference. The existence of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance is a subject of legitimate international concern and it is every State's responsibility to address these public issues by adopting policies designed to prevent and eradicate the active, passive or tacit expression of any form of racism or intolerance.

The President of the Republic of Chile, Ricardo Lagos, has asked me to reaffirm our country's commitment to the central values that underlie this Conference and to make every effort to arrive at a global consensus that enables us to achieve the objectives set by the General Assembly in convening it. No one would understand our failing to do so and we therefore bear a very heavy responsibility.

Our challenge is to develop and share a vision of the future. To construct that vision we must look at the past and recognize that memory is a collective human right. Only if we are familiar with our history will we be able to raise our voices and declare, as emphatically as we can, "never again". This conviction must continue to ring in the consciences of future generations. That is the wish of the victims who demand the recognition of their identity and their dignity. We have all played our part in the past. We must all take our place in the future. However, the injures left by the past can not prevent us from facing the present unjust. We must not mortgage the future of the generations to come.

In December 2000, Chile hosted the Regional Conference of the Americas in preparation for this World Conference. In Santiago, all the countries of the hemisphere, from south to north, took a hard and critical look at their societies from an historical perspective and expressed their political will to achieve a higher quality of coexistence, more humane, more egalitarian and more tolerant than before. The organization and holding of this meeting were not without their difficulties. The countries taking part and the massive presence of civil society were representative of the huge diversity by which we are enriched, with its many stories. and memories, many different sorrows and hopes. However, the representatives of the participating countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, the United States and Canada reached important agreements on the issues involved shown that these agreements delivered a basic consensus effectively capable of global projection.

The various national histories of the region reflect the exclusion, marginalization and discriminatory treatment of the indigenous peoples, persons of African descent, migrants and mestizo, as well as of the various groups that have suffered multiple and aggravated discrimination. On this concern, assuming our societies as diverse ones is a big challenge for the countries of the hemisphere. Latin America has had to travel a long and difficult road since the encounter between our indigenous peoples and the European conquistadors. This encounter between two worlds, which resulted in the establishment of the dominion of the one over the other, also gave rise to the need to recognize the heterogeneous composition of our societies. Only by acknowledging this fact will it be possible to achieve unity in diversity in our countries. Only thus will it be possible to achieve development with identity.

The democratic governments of Chile have initiated a complex and dynamic procedure for overcoming entrenched forms of exclusion and have established the need of recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and to encourage the full exercise of those rights. However, it is clear that there are still many items outstanding on our civic agenda. We have made progress, but we must not relax our future efforts to go on doing it.

As a result of the economic environment in which the region is developing, different forms of discrimination are increasingly emerging; many of them associated with deep-rooted cultural, economic and social processes. Economic migration and the resulting discrimination, together with the situation of groups leading a marginal existence or living in poverty, are giving rise to various forms of aggravated discrimination whose effects are no less `serious than those attributable to the classical grounds observed in other parts of the region and the world.

We believe that a modern approach to the problems of discrimination, within the terms of the mandate that this Conference has been given, should also address the situation of other groups, such as women, children, adolescents, the elderly and the disabled persons, who suffer the cumulative effects of various forms of exclusion. We believe multiple discrimination to be an undeniable fact, which we should analyze in all its complexity.

As President Lagos was to say in his closing address to the Regional Conference of the Americas, "to progress in this direction we must very definitely have the capacity and the political will to discriminate positively in the allocation of resources. Equality of opportunity does not mean giving everyone the same possibilities from the standpoint of the State as regards resources and financial access. Equality of opportunity means being in favor of the weak, of those against whom society has discriminated in the past".

This Conference is overshadowed by globalization which, though a positive force and a source of opportunity, is generating increasing concern. No doubt, in face of the feeling of insecurity created by the lack of participation in the governance of the emerging world, we are witnessing a reaffirmation of identities, which calls for a new understanding. It is clear that, in the future, globalization will be accompanied by an increased emphasis on the particular dimensions of each local society. Ensuring equality and respect for different cultures and a harmonious intercultural dialogue is essential if we are to live in a fairer and more democratic world.

Durban is a source of New Hope, which must be accompanied by commitments to action. This must be reflected in public policies that promote acceptance and tolerance, which is not a task that should be reserved solely for the State. It is indispensable to have the support of the public and the civil society organizations. Their participation, together with that of the victims of discrimination and communities in general, will make it possible to progress with the development of a culture of personal dignity and civic rights.

This was given concrete expression in the Santiago Conference and its declaration and program of action. There, no issue was left off the agenda, including those that are now emerging as serious obstacles to agreement at this World Conference. We were able to arrive at political agreements of great significance for our present struggle against racism, xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance incorporating our civil society to the discussion.

Today, we face the challenge of overcoming our differences and achieving concrete results. The victims of discrimination and intolerance, who are daily prevented from realizing -their ambitions in life, demand it. , Moreover, the emergence of better societies depends on it, since inequality and marginalization affect huge masses of people who are now claiming recognition from a world that to a large extent denies them the fruits of development and respect for their human rights.

South Africa has symbolized the struggle against racism. Today, like yesterday, the world is calling with a common voice for greater equality and dignity for all. Let us make South Africa the start of a new path of dignity and progress. Of a humanity in which the injures carried from the past do not become the overruling of our present, but a lesson which allows us looking to the future with pride and optimism, a humanity in which all human beings enjoy equality, diversity, freedom and dignity. So that all can say with the poet Pablo Neruda in his "Canto General":

At last 1 am free, within beings.
Among beings, like living air,
And from penned-up solitude
I escape to the multitude of battles,
Free because your hand is in mine,
Conquering untamable joys.
(Pablo Neruda)

Finally, I am carrying with me, a message from my people:

Deu puiwi to antu tain jume yeal kom dunu mulewunual to wuezake rakiduan,
mulei tain deumayael We jume monen, kom tain jume feleal, inchin mutem
mulei tain nentual tain dunu, wuelu kai feula, ka antu no.
Mapuche Language)

It is time of overcoming the distress of discrimination; it is time to construct a better world, fairer, freer, and equal to everyone, without exclusion. This is our challenge and it can not wait.

Thank you very much