Dr. Mohamed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
Delegation of the State of Kuwait
Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
31 August - ? September 2001 Durban - South Africa
Minister of State For Foreign Affairs Kuwait
I would like in the beginning to convey the condolences of my country to the friendly people and leadership of South Africa to the passing away of a beloved son of this great nation.
I am honoured also , to
convey our gratitude to the Head of the Government of South Africa and its people
for hosting this World Conference.
The principle of equality
among peoples is one of the most, if not the most important of all human rights.
A cardinal principle from which flow many of the other human rights. Equality
and non discrimination are two faces of a coin.
Islam has affirmed the
principle of equality and human fraternity for 15 centuries in one koranic verse:
"Mankind, Reverence your GuardianLord, Who created you from a Single Person,
created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered countless men
and women."; The Prophet Mohamed - God's blessing and peace be upon Him
- also said "All people are equal like a comb's teeth".
The Kuwaiti Constitution
enshrines the principles of the Sharia and clearly affirms that justice, freedom
and equality are the pillars of society. It stipulates in Article (29) that
"All people are equal in human dignity and in public rights and duties
before the law, without distinction as to race, origin, language or religion."
Other Kuwaiti legislations
also contain detailed provisions where they affirm the rule of equality and
non distinction between the members of society as to religion, race or origin.
To be sure , women in Kuwait
, like men, enjoy the same rights guaranteed by the Constitution, namely the
right to work and to chose her profession, the right to engage in all business
and professional activities, the right to education at all its levels and the
right to assume public functions.
The State of Kuwait has
culminated its efforts in the Decree issued in May 1999 by His Highness The
Amir of Kuwait granting women their political rights. Even though, the said
Decree didn't secure the required majority in the Parliament. The Government
of Kuwait is determined to f continue its efforts for the passage of the law
within the dernocratic framework.
In pursuance of the State's
policy of eliminating all forms of racial discrimination, Kuwait was one of
the first Member States to accede to the International Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, in addition to its adherence to the five
basic and other international conventions related to human rights.
Kuwait also endeavoured
to ensure that cooperation with members of the international community to eliminate
this phenomenon is a basic mainstay of its foreign policy. Kuwait vigorously
supported and still supports, the just struggle waged by peoples suffering under
the yoke of occupation, colonialism and racial discrimination with a view to
achieving their self-determination and legitimate independarice in accordance
with the lofty principles advocated in international instruments.
In view of its firm commitment
to promote human rights issues, Kuwait sought to improve the economic and social
situation of the members of the international community through the establishment
of official bodies conducive to that same purpose. Kuwait encouraged and still
encourages, the non-governmental organizations and institutions which are pursuing
a policy of extending economic and social aid to the citizens of other States.
'The colonization by settlers
and the foreign occupation constitute sources, causes and forms of racism, racial
discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. States which pursued similar
policies and practices should bear their responsibilities towards the victims
of such policies.
Today, we witness repugnant
practices of racial discrimination by the Israeli occupation forces against
Palestinians and the other inhabitants of the occupied Arab territories. Homes
were destroyed, its inhabitants displaced. Villages and cities isolated, all
agricultural yields were eradicated and military blockage imposed. All those
practices were carried out in the context of pursuing a policy of collective
punishment against Palestinians.
Those practices constitute
a serious violation of the international human rights and humanitarian law,
a crime against humanity and a serious threat to international peace and security,
which should lead the international community to assume its responsibilities
towards ensuring the Palestinians international protection from the inhuman
attacks and racial practices to which they are subjected.
We are people of peace
and we are seeking peace. But no just and permanent peace in the Middle East
can be attained unless legitimate Arab rights are recovered; this can only be
achieved by the complete withdrawal of Israel from all occupied Arab territories
in accordance with the Security Council resolutions No. 242 and 338, the establishment
of an independant Palestinian State with its capital Al-Qudus Al-Shareef, and
the unconditional withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Syrian Golan Heights
and the Lebanese territories.
The principle of non-discrimination
is considered as the basic tenet not only of international human rights law,
but also of international humanitarian law obliging parties to an armed conflict
to treat prisoners of war and civilians without distinction of any kind and
with humanity at all times.
In this respect, Kuwait
would like to remind that it endures the pain of having Kuwaitis and third country
nationals still detained by the Iraqi Government since 1990 without any knowledge
of their fate, deprived of their simplest human right which is to contact their
families as stipulated in the 1949 Geneva Conventions, not to mention their
basic right to life and freedom.
Kuwait has repeatedly clarified
in numerous international fora that the issue of Kuwaitis and third country
nationals prisoners of war is not a political issue but a humanitarian one,
and it should be dealt with from this point of view and resolved forthwith in
order to ease the sufferings of the prisoners of war and their families.
We are hoping that the
international community will continue to pressure Iraq to implement all the
relevant international resolutions and to cooperate with the Tripartite Commission
headed by the International Committee of the Red Cross, High Level Coordinator
for the repartiation of all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and Kuwaiti
properties and the other United Nations organs in order to find a rapid and
permanent solution to this humanitarian issue.
Kuwait will spare no effort
until all Kuwaitis and third country nationals prisoners of war and detainees
My delegation considers
this Conference as a confirmation of the international community's will to eliminate
racism and racial discrimination, and affirms that these two phenomena constitute
a serious violation of human rights and a total denial of the objectives and
principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights.
Kuwait hopes that this
Conference will adopt a document containing a decisive action to be undertaken
in order to eradicate racism and racial discrimination while taking into consideration,
in this process that tolerance and the respect of the cultural diversity
are two important elements in the elimination of racism, racial discrimination
Thank you Madame President.