H. E Mr. Phongsavath BOUPHA,
Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Head of the Lao Delegation
It is my great honour to represent the Lao People's-Democratic Republic to the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination. Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. On this occasion, I would like first of all to congratulate you upon vour election to the presidency of this eminent gathering. We are confident that under your able and wise leadership, our deliberations will be concluded with brilliant successes.
May I take this opportunity to express our appreciation to the Government and people of the Republic of South Africa for their warm hospitality extended to our delegation during this conference.
Madam President, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the past centuries, peoples in the world underwent both physical and mental pains and sufferings that resulted from injustice, inequality and all forms of discrimination, severely violating their human rights. The Slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade and colonialism and conquests spread in Africa, Asia and other parts ol' the world were our painful and unforgettable experiences. The world also witnesscd Nazism. Fascism, genocide and its brutal acts against humanity. and the Apartheid establislicd rind practised in the Republic of South Africa, which just ended in the nineties, as the consequence of the brave and struggle of the people of South Africa with the supports of the international community Further, wars of aggression and foreign interference have resulted in poverty and human sufferings.
Since its inception, one of the main objectives of the United Nations has been the respect for and the protection of Human Rights. As the Charter points out, we have e been committed to the respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion. In addition, international legal instruments and mechanisms for implementing and monitoring them have been put in place to ensure equal rights of all people.
Despite achievements and progresses in their struggle for justice and national independence, people in many countries in the world continue to suffer from unjust treatment and all forms of discrimination. The wounds of these pains and sufferings are still felt in our societies. There are instances that people are struggling hard for their national independence and identities. Trade of prostitution and trade in person, as a form of exploitation of labour of others, may amount to a contemporary form of slavery and servitude. As many countries affected by colonialism and wars. the Lao PDR is still suffering from the legacy of foreign conquests, domination and aggression war, which have been the main cause of our poverty. Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in the new forms, which are more contemporary and subtle are much more complicated and the combat against them encounters greater and greater difficulties. To what extent the process of this World Conference will be successful depends on the wills of and co-operation among the states undertaking the task of combating this evil as their own vital interests.
We are the members of the same human family, attending this World Conference with the commitment to combating racism and racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. I believe that recognising the wrongs in the past can give us a guide to correcting our present conducts thus leading us to constructive approach to common problems. I also believe that division among ourselves would not only make us-unable to deal with the problems effectively, but it would also complicate the problems themselves. In addition, we should recognise and value the variety of human species, which are all born free and equal in dignity and rights. Conversely, taking constructive approach may make the problems much easier to be settled and we may he able to arrive at the final end, leaving a vivid future full of justice to young generations, who will live and build the twenty-first century as well as the new millennium an era full of freedom brotherhood and prosperity.
The Lao People's Democratic Republic has a population of five million with about fifty ethnic minorities. Since its establishment, the Lao PDR has always attached priority to national unity. The first Constitution of' the Lao PDR provides in Article 22 which reads "Lao citizens, irrespective of their sexes, social statuses, (levels Of'] education, faiths and ethnic groups, are equal before the law". Further. the Government has committed to preventing and correcting all acts that may lead to ethnic conflicts and hatred, and to making people of all ethnic aware that the attitude of either self- superiority and contempt towards others or self-inferiority is a wrong attitude.
Attending this important conference, besides demonstration cur willingness to support and co-operate with international community in combating racism, we have the opportunity to exchange views and experiences with other delegations to strengthen international co-operation to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
Finally, I believe and hope that this World Conference will be a constructive one. full of solidarity, friendship and successes.