REPUBLIC OF CROATIA

ADDRESS BY

H.E. ZELJKA ANTUNOVIC,
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA

WORLD CONFERENCE AGAINST RACISM, RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, XENOPHOBIA AND RELATED INTOLERANCE

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA
31 AUGUST - 7 SEPTEMBER 2001

 

Madam President,
High Commissioner, excellencies,
distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

The decision of many individuals and peoples to realize a vision of the world ruled by peace, freedom, dignity, equality and the feeling of being accepted, brought the world together in Durban. In this vision, the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance presents a hope for all those who wish to set the world free from a long-lasting and grave disease - racism and all other forms of discrimination. When high ideals of dignity of human life, equality of all human beings, realization of a society in which every individual will participate with full responsibility in the creation of a positive and balanced world, when these ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments are compared with the difficult and dramatic situation in many parts of the world, we can rightfully say that the world is still under the influence of a wide-spread, deeply rooted disease which is destroying the tissue of progress of the human kind and its creative potentials.

All the great effort invested in the preparation of the World Conference points to the fact that this Conference will give a strong impetus to all the states to endeavor to set the. world free from the disastrous disease of racism and discrimination. The Republic of Croatia welcomes the World Conference and gives its full support to the United Nations in all the necessary activities. It also takes part in the Conference with the belief that important results will be achieved.

Allow me-to express our gratitude to the Republic of South Africa as the host of the World Conference for the successful organization of the Conference. I would agree with the statement that South Africa is "a country which symbolizes hope and courage in the fight against racism". At the same time, I wish to express my deep regret for many victims of racism and for the grave suffering which various nations were exposed to in the past, especially the nations of the African continent. Racism, slavery and slaves trafficking have made the most shameful pages of human history. Therefore it is necessary to face the past, forcefully condemn the racist actions and do everything in our power to remove the remains of the shameful past.

If we turn to the present, we need not only an agreement in principle, but a firm decision to fight racism and any form of discrimination and intolerance by all acceptable means. In the contemporary, sophisticated world the forms and expressions of discrimination also become sophisticated, but with the same results: with misunderstanding, hostility, conflicts and suffering of the innocent. A recent occurrence of ethnic cleansing in Europe with all the horror that goes with it only shows that evil is still present and that many efforts are necessary on all the possible levels in order to eradicate it.
Madam President,
The Preparatory Committee of the World Conference has drawn up a draft Declaration and a Program of Action on the basis of which the World Conference will determine the sources, causes and forms of the manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in the modern world; it will determine who the victims of all these negative phenomena are, it will determine the measures for the protection from and prevention of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance on the national, regional and international levels. On the basis of the premises of these documents, States should speedily undertake appropriate measures to combat these phenomena. Apart from the strong document, for the success of the Conference it is very important what its follow-up will be like.

Racism and other forms of discrimination can not be discussed separately from violation of other human rights and freedoms. All human rights are interdependent, conditioned by political, social, economic, cultural and historic conditions of a state. Therefore racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance have to be discussed in the context of the overall condition of human rights on the national, regional and international levels. In the fight against racism and racial discrimination on the national level, it is very important to consider all human rights and freedoms, so as to make a necessary foundation and positive framework for solving the problems of racism and other forms of discrimination on the national level.
States should primarily make comprehensive national programs for protection and promotion of human rights. In those programs it is necessary to identify the problems in the sphere of human rights, find their causes and define the measures and ways in which human rights will be realized on the highest possible level. On the basis of a complete insight into the condition of human rights on the national level, it is necessary to define the system of necessary bodies (mechanisms) for a successful protection and promotion of human rights in those fields of human rights which are problematic arid need special care. ._

Madam President,
Allow me to present the activities in the Republic of Croatia. The Government of the Republic of Croatia started the making of the National Program for Protection and Promotion of Human Rights and at the same time it is composing a system of bodies, mechanisms for a better protection and promotion of human rights. A variety of bodies have been established for those fields of human rights that had been neglected, or insufficiently developed. In preparation for the World Conference, the Government of the Republic of Croatia founded a Working Group for the Preparation of the World Conference, which will by the end of this year transform into the National Committee for Elimination of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, a body whose permanent task will be to take special care of possible violations on this field of human rights and propose the measures to fight these negative phenomena on the national level.

With the view to promote human rights and especially the value of diversity based on race, religion, origin, color, culture, language or national or ethnic belonging, the Republic of Croatia is organizing the International Conference on Human Rights and Democratization. The Conference is organised in cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and European Union, and with support of the Council of Europe and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The conference will be held in the Republic of Croatia, in Dubrovnik, 8-10 September 2001, as a follow-up to the Vienna Conference on Human Rights 1993, as well as in the light of this World Conference. The Conference will explore the diversity as a basis and linking factor of mutual understanding and cooperation.

Madam President,
In our view, the world has reached the level when it is necessary for each individual, as Madam Mary Robinson, the High Commissioner said, to "change their minds and hearts" if we want to continue on the way of sustainable development. Each individual should cherish positive attitudes towards all other individuals as those who are equal in their dignity, rights, freedoms and responsibilities. Positive attitudes must be transformed into everyday behavior, into a concrete action which will make positive mindset a living reality. There must be readiness to accept this as a principle in interpersonal relations, in the relations towards a narrower or wider community, towards the nations. Only in this way can the national and international standards have a full effect.
Finally, I wish to express my hope and belief that at the World Conference agreement will be reached to condemn racism and other forms and manifestations of discrimination and that, by accepting the Declaration and Action Program, readiness of the states to change their standards and to build them entirely into the national action plans will be expressed. These are the means by which the World Conference can have a historic role.
Thank you.