-Wold Wolde Minister of Justice, Head, The Delegation of thé Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia To "The
World Conférence Against Racism, Racial Discrimination,
Xenophobia and Related Intolerance."
Durban, September 2001
Madame President, Honorable Ministers, Madame High Commissioner,
Allow me at thé outset, to express thé full satisfaction of thé Ethiopian Government on thé successful convening of thé World Conférence Against Racism, Xenophobia and related intolerance in Durban, South Africa.
States, individuals and institutions have contributed to thé successful holding of thé Conférence. We thank them all. In particular, we would like to congratulate and express our gratitude to thé people and Government of thé Republic of South Africa for thé excellent organization of thé Conférence and for thé warm welcome extended to us.
We would also like to express our deepest appreciation to Madame Mary Robinson, thé United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for her tireless effort in organizing thé preparatory processes of thé World Conférence.
In addressing this august assembly one cannot fail to mention thé immense symbolism of holding this historie Conférence in thé Republic of South Africa. Indeed, apartheid, thé most heinous institutionalized form of racism was proclaimed, practiced and, through bitter struggle, irrevocably abolished in this country. We pay homage and tribute to thé memories of thé numerous victims of apartheid.
We are also gratified to see thé new democratic South Africa. The victory over apartheid is one of thé greatest triumphs of humanity over oppression, hate and segregation. Hence, as a tribute to this monumental victory it is fitting that thé Conférence be held in thé new South Africa. It would also serve as a constant rerninder to our Conférence on thé need to work together to develop a strategy to continue thé struggle against Racism.
Racism has existed in human society for a very long time. It is an age old social and political evil. In its virulence, it has plagued all societies. Its existence in every society cannot be demed but in each case its spread and consequences are in varying intensity. These variations depend on thé particular prevailing circurnstances and their manifestations. However, particular forins of racist manifestations stand out for thé egregious harm they inflict on their victims. Other forms are peculiar for thé lasting scar they leave on societies.
Slavery, slave trade, colonialism and apartheid are major sources and manifestations of racism. These heinous forms of racism were not only cruel and inhumane for their epochs but they are also root causes of contemporary manifestations of racism for affecting millions of peoples around thé world. But in particular, they have robed Africa of its human and material wealth. They have also left legacies of conflicts, instability and underdevelopment in our continent.
For these reasons, it is imperative that thé Conférence adopt measures that would help us place these historical situations in their proper perspective. These should include specific measures of redress and acknowledgment of past injustices with concrete follow-up mechanism to ensure their implementation. The adoption of such measures by thé Conférence would finally bring a measure of justice to thé victims and their societies. It would also help us link thé past and thé future by healing old wounds.
The struggle against racism has registered significant achievements over thé last decades. But as thé need for th is World Conférence regrettably signifies, there remains much to be desired. More alarmingly, racially motivated acts of violence and discriminatory practices are rampant in our world today.
All there contemporary manifestations of racism are aimed at various groups in societies. They particularly affect peoples of Africa and African descent, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, minorities and indigenous peoples. We should also acknowledge that they are among thé causes of marginalization, poverty, underdevelopment and socio-economic exclusion of there groups of people. The World Conférence needs to vehemently condemn all these manifestations and adopt a comprehensive set of recommendations aimed at combating these forms of racism with a concrete followup mechanism.
On our pàrt, we have corne a long way in addressing thé problems of inequality and inequitable access to resources and decisionmaking power of différent groups in our country. Ethiopia is a mosaic of a multitude of nations and nationalities. We have more than seventy ethno-linguistic groups. However, for too long in thé past thé vast majority of these groups were denied of their basic human rights.
The successive oppressive systems came to an end in 1991 with thé fall of thé military dictatorship. Since then, for thé last ten
years our country has been consolidating a new system of pluralistic democratic governance founded on protection of and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
This system has allowed différent ethnic groups in thé country to use their own languages in schools, courts and administrative structures. It has also allowed them to promote their culture and decide on affairs directly affecting them through their freely chosen representatives.
Our system of Govemment is a bold initiative aimed at rectifying thé longstanding discrimination and exclusion in our country. This system has forged and strengthened thé unity of our country through a voluntary and democratic association and on thé basis of equality, tolérance and mutual respect for thé identity of each group in thé country. Based on this system we are intensifying our efforts to eradicate poverty and under development from our country. For our efforts to succeed, we need the continued support and cooperation of the international community.
In closing, Madame President, allow me to reiterate the commitment of my Government in the struggle against racism and racial discrimination and the promotion of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and mutual respect in societies and among nations.