H.E. Sheikh Dr. Mohamed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah Minister of State for Foreign Affairs

Head of Delegation of the State of Kuwait


The "World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
31 August - ? September 2001 Durban - South Africa
Minister of State For Foreign Affairs Kuwait


Madame President,

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.

Madame. President,

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.

Madame President,

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.

Madame. President,

'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.

Madame President,

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.

Madame President,

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 are released.

Madame President,

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 and xenophobia.

Thank you Madame President.