Republic of Iran
H. E. Dr. Kamal Kharrazi,
thé Minister of Foreign Affairs of thé Islamic Republic of Iran,
at thé World Conférence against Racism, Racial Discriminations, Xenophobia and Related Intolérance
DURBAN,SOUT AFRICA, SEPTEMBER 2001
In thé name of God, thé Compassionate, thé Merciful
Madam President, Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a distinct honor for me to be here in South Africa and to- speak at thé World Conférence against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolérance. The convening of this world conférence in free South Africa and during thé United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations is indeed most auspicious, and we shall all do our utmost to make it a resounding success.
Allow me at thé outset to express my profound -gratitude to thé Government and thé people of South Africa. This nation, which is, universally recognized for its struggle against apartheid and racism is in fact best suited to host this conférence that intends to mobilize global will-for éradication of racism, racial discriminations, xenophobia and related intolérance:
I would also like to thank Mrs. Robinson, thé United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, for her'tireless efforts as thé Secretary General of this world conférence, in organizing thé Conférence and for bringing us ali a step closer to its noble objectives.
The Islamic Republic of Iran had' thé privilege of hosting thé Asian Preparatory Meeting for thé World Conférence where thé Asian perspectives were articulated with thé view to make a fruitful contribution to this event. We in Asia have come to this meeting with thé firm commitment to ensure thé success of this World Conférence with thé expéctation of achieving action-oriented and tangible results.
Madam President, Distinguished participants,
Iran's commitment to be -a part of thé struggle against racism stems first and foremost from Islam's loftyaspiration of equality and brotherhood, as well as thé ideals enshrined in our Constitution. In thé long history of Iranian civilization, before and alter thé émergence of Islam, respect for thé dignity, equality and rights` of thé human person has been accorded a prominent status, and indeed, has been enriched by thé inspiring teachings of Islam. The Holy Qoran's clear pronouncement on this issue 14 centuries ago continues to be a source of guidance and enlightenment for all human interactions.
"O human beingsl Surely we have created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you tribes and nations that you may know each other (not that you may desp se one another). Surely thé noblest of you in thé Sight of God is thé best of you, in conduct. Surely God is All-Knowing, All-Aware. "
Belief in and respect for unity in diversity of mankind is a deep rooted concept in Iranian culture, allowing for préservation of distinct identities, while allowing common denominators of shared cherished values to bring us all closer to each other. The thoughts of thé great Iranian poet, Saadi, eloquently manifested in his famous poem eight centuries ago, expresses and reflects thé genuine Iranian culture which has remained etemal through centuries:
The sons of Adam are limbs of each other, Having been created of one essence.
When thé calamity of time affects one limb The other limbs cannot remain at rest.
If thou hast no sympathy for thé troubles of others
Thou art unworthy to be called by thé name of a human.
Humanity has gone through a century marred by bitter expériences of war, confliet and bloodshed. This was coupled with thé émergence of exclusionist approaches that manifested themselves, inter alia, in polarization of thé world, classification of societies, and ethnic, racial - and cultural rifts. Considering diversity as a threat coupled with a 'need for an enemy as a managerial tool for governance lied at thé root of all these evils and=led to thé prophecies of clash of civilizations. Racism; racial discrimination and racist theories are certainly among thé most evil products of thé fear of diversity and exclusion, which have constituted thé base and substance of many evil upheavals and have contributed to thé expansion of thé colonial culture of domination.
Such theories that assert racial, ntellectual and cultural superiority of certain groups over others, simply for having speeial physical characteristics and inhabiting in a particular geographical regions, are fundamentally flawed and gravely dangerous. Accordingly, thé human society has been blatantly divided on thé basis of superiority and inferiority of race and , ethnicity. Regrettably, these theories and practices have,assisted thé consolidation of thé unjust international order based on exclusion, domination and discrimination.
The catastrophic atrocities committed during thé two World Wars are still fresh in thé mind of thé international community. Although thé Second World War ended thé direct bloody conflicts between thé global powers of thé time, it did'not put an end to their racism and racial discrimination policies. It took many years before one of thé last fortresses of racism crumbled. Who can ignore thé valiant struggles of great men Such as Nelson Mandela to eliminate thé most dreadful form of racism?
The bitter expériences of thé past millennium have taught thé human society valuable lessons. These expériences have further solidified thé firm détermination of mankind to do its utmost to make thé present millennium différent from thé post, and free from thé previous injustices and inequalities.
But to do this, we need to alter thé fondamental approach and mindset that provided thé breading ground for exils of racism. The international community has started to move away, albeit slowly, from thé outdated paradigm of exclusion and fear of diversity, into a new paradigm of inclusion and dialogue among civilizations. The désignation of this year as thé United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations on thé initiative of President Khatami along with many other developments in thé global arena provide us a glimpse at thé elements of a possible new paradigm. A paradigm based on récognition of unity of all human beings, respect for their diversity as an asset for growth of all, and a mutual readiness to leam from one another and build together on shared and cherished universal values.
Respect for human dignity and thé rights of people,
irrespective of their race, color, descent, national or ethnie origin are part
of thé fundamental principles of all divine religions and human civilizations.
In fact, thé very mission of the'prophets was to liberate mankind from
thé artificial bonds, and to revive genuine human character.
Although thé persistence of thé vestiges of racism and thé émergence of its new forms and manifestations at thé dawn of thé new millennium is a cause for grave and profound concern for thé awakened conscience of humanity, thé présent conférence that aims at
launching action-oriented and full=fledged campaign against this ominous phenomenon, indicates thé priorityand importance thé world community attaches to this global fight.
The concept of domination has a history as old as human civilization. However, with thé passage of time and thé widening of gap between nations, exploitation in thé foret of slavery and colonialism assumed broader dimensions. A glance at thé history of thé récent past centuries shows that thé continent of Africa suffered thé most harm and injustice from colonial rule,-exploitation and slave trade. Therefore, récognition of injustices and suffering experienced by Africans and people of African descent and initiation of concrete measures to redress and compensate for their psychological harms and material losses should be given high priority by this Conférence.
The logical prerequisite for compensatory measures is thé commitment of states to seriously refrain from any action amounting to différent forms of new colonialism as well as new forms of exploitation against their former colonies. Elaboration of différent view points expressed during thé preparatory processes clearly indicated that thé concerns of thé member states are not only confined to thé traditional forms of this ominous phenomenon, but also in light of thé passage of time, différent racist policies, practices, tendencies and behaviors have surfaced in différent parts of the globe.
Therefore, an important task of this Conférence is to identify thé contemporary forets and manifestations of racism and racial discrimination. Today, thé most vivid manifestation of institutionalized racism is Zionism. What other than racism can one call thé uprooting of an' entiré people from their own land, driving them into diaspora, thé attempted destruction of thé national identity of a whole nation, thé unabated killings and massacre of innocent Palestinians,thé destruction of entire Palestinian villages and thé building of Jewish settlements? Such policies and practices against thé Palestinian people by Israel provide convincing évidence that Zionism is indeed racism: Rejection of Zionism should in no way be eonstrued as an attack against Judaism or thé Jewish people. Anti-Sernitism and oppression of thé Jewish people in Europe during thé Second World War must be rejected 'in thé sarne vein as today's Islamophobia, anti-Arabism and anti Palestinian practices. But what happened in Europe then can in no way be used to cover 50 years of Zionist atrocity against thé Palestinian people.
The collapse of apartheid in South Africa clearly demonstrates that thé résolve of thé international community does make a différence. At thé height of thé struggle against Apartheid, even thé most diehard advocates of this system of racial segregation had no other choice but to give in to international pressure and were forced to cease their support to Apartheid South Africa.
This World Conférence must squarely address this most blatant foret of contemporary racism. Being in South Africa, we are all reminded of thé close and compréhensive des as well as similarities of apartheid and Zionism including in their patterns of alliance. For this we believe that thé democratic model of transition in South Africa serves as a good example which can also be applied in Palestine in order to establish peace with justice. A democratic résolution of thé conflict in Palestine requires thé return of ail' Palestinians to their own land, followed by a referendum with thé participation of ail genuine inhabitants of Palestine, be they Christian, Jew or Muslim to freely determine their destiny and future. It is self-évident that-a just and lasting peace cannot be attained without a complete end to thé occupation of ail Palestinian and Arab territories and thé full restoration of ail rights of thé people of Palestine, including their right to self-détermination.
Madam President, distinguished participants.
One of thé purposes of this 'Conférence is to find effective ways for provision of remédies and redress at thé international level to compensate thé harm and damage meted upon thé victims of racism 'and racial discrimination. The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that thé, first step in this direction should be thé healing of old wounds. This healing process ought to address psychological harms and material lusses to thé victims of racism. In this regard, I wish to emphasize thé following points:
l- The historical injustices inflicted on thé victims of racism and racial discrimination should first be intenationally recognized and thé responsibility'for them should be assumed by thé, perpetrators. This world conférence should also address thoroughly thé
issue of apology on thé part of thé colonial powers and those responsible for siavery and slave trade and other abhorrent manifestations of racism and racial discrimination.
2- These evil practices and policies should internationally be recognized as crimes against humanity and thus thé perpetrators of
these crimes are brought to compétent international tribunals.
3- Appropriate international mechanisms should be put in place to investigate and redress thé brutalities inflicted upon thé victims in an effective manner, irrespective of anyspecific time frame.
Finally Madam President, Given thé complex nature and various forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolérance, this Conférence offers a good opportunity to thé international community to work' out a strategy in thé context of action-oriented programs for an effective campaign. The success of these programs hinges upon thé genuine political will, international coopération and thé firm commitment of states to thé obligations arising from this Conférence.
The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that such a visionary strategy has- to proceed from and build upon thé commonalities of thé international community, thé shared values and commun understanding among ail cultures and civilizations.
Thank you for your attention.