H.E. Mr. Iván Bába
State Secretary for Foreign Affairs

World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Durban, South Africa
Sunday 2 September 2001

Madam President,

I welcome and appreciate the opportunity to participate in the deliberations of our Conference. It is particularly fitting that this meeting takes place in South Africa.

Human rights and dignity vs. racism

One of the major principles of our contemporary world is that all human beings are born free and equal in their dignity and rights. Consequently, it is an unquestionable responsibility of Member States of the United Nations to observe and respect human rights as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as in relevant international instruments. Furthermore, human rights, fundamental freedoms and minority rights are universal values, which form an integral part of our civilization.

We strongly believe that when the international community combats racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, it should act in a comprehensive manner and in a human rights context.

In this regard, national implementation of international norms and practices, enhanced co-operation among states and reaffirmation of values enshrined in international documents must be in the forefront of our efforts, if we want to be successful.

Hungary views this Conference as a unique opportunity in the constant fight against racism and related intolerance to work out specific and concrete steps in shaping a global strategy. It is in this context that we condemn all racist acts, irrespective where they may occur. Furthermore, we stand ready and willing to fight against the evil phenomena of racism to the fullest extent.

Madam President,

To address another issue we face here, I wish to emphasize Hungary's strong commitment to the importance of monitoring of international obligations by States. We concur with the view that implementation of international obligations is one of the most effective ways in ensuring that legal systems and practices of States are of a non-discriminatory nature.

Beside effective implementation and monitoring of international rules and standards, education - as an effective remedy against intolerance - should be in the focus of attention of our Conference.

International protection of minorities

Madam President,

The issue of minority rights is no longer an internal affair of any given state. The international community has the legitimate responsibility and the moral obligation to call upon States to respect minority rights.

Major international crises of the past decade have amply demonstrated that the denial of minority rights may undermine the stability of entire regions and constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security. It should be realized that progress in the international protection of minorities is one of the keys to make human rights even more relevant in our times.

It should be kept in mind that minorities if they can express, preserve and develop their identity, if they are not discriminated against neither collectively nor individually, if they can use their language without restrictions, if they can enjoy their own culture and are free to profess and practice their religion, live in peace and harmony with other communities.

In our view, the international community should pay attention to the human rights situation of minorities not only when tragic events are already taking place, but also much earlier when gross violations of the rights of minorities can still be prevented.

It is in this regard that I am proud to reaffirm our proposal at this forum, whereby the time has come for the United Nations to meet its historical debt regarding the elaboration of a universally binding international legal document on the rights of minorities.

This new instrument could be based on the provisions of relevant universal and regional human rights and minority rights conventions as well as on new international practices. Appropriate attention could also be paid to the standards set forth in the United Nations Declaration on Minorities.

Besides concentrating on political, civil, cultural as well as social and economic rights of minorities, a new convention could also stipulate recourse for an international complaint mechanism either for individuals or communities directly concerned. We express our fervent hope that the outcome of this Conference will give an impetus to this proposal of ours.

Madam President,

Hungary is looking forward to an action-oriented, pragmatic and successful Conference here in Durban. My delegation is more than prepared to contribute actively to this end.

Thank you, Madam President.