MR. ERNST WALCH
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE
PRINCIPALITY OF LIECHTENSTEIN
WORLD CONFERENCE AGAINST RACISM, RACIAL
DISCRIMINATION, XENOPHOBIA AND RELATEDINTOLERANCE
DURBAN, 1 SEPTEMBER
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First and foremost, I wish to express my gratitude to the organizers of this Conference, the Government of South Africa and, in particular, the city and the people of Durban, who have been putting up with all of us with such generous hospitality and friendliness, efficiency and professionalism. Thank you.
We have come here from all corners of the globe, because basic principles of humanity are at stake: human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction of race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin.
Despite the great efforts the international community and many states have put into combating racism, we still suffer from racist practices and their effects all over the world. In order to eliminate such discrimination and its consequences in the future, we also have to recognize the failures in the past. It is our duty, here and now, to show flag and to develop action.
Colonialism, slavery and slave-trade are dark chapters in the book of mankind's history and have left their traces until today. These humiliating practices gave rise to a concept of superiority and inferiority among human beings, leading to the violation of human rights. Along with this, the one-sided exploitation of land and resources contributed to poverty, social injustice and to economic underdevelopment of entire regions. We deeply regret these historical wrongs. We are committed to combat all their negative consequences in the present and in the future. And we support all common efforts undertaken by the international community in this regard.
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is the result of such a common effort: The ICC will allow for the prosecution of the most serious crimes including racially motivated crimes such as enslavement, apartheid, genocide and persecution. Liechtenstein strongly supports the establishment of the International Criminal Court. Consequently the Parliament has ratified the Rome Statute upon which it is based.
In March 2000 our Parliament ratified without reservations
the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. In
accordance with its article 1 we amended the Criminal Code and introduced sanctions
for the commission of or incitement to racist acts and the dissemination of
racist ideas. The latter has become a fast growing problem in connection with
new information technology, in particular the internet. In June of this year,
the Government decided to make the declaration under Article 14 of the Convention.
This means that, once in effect, the consideration of individual communication
by the competent treaty body will be guaranteed.
Let me make a few remarks as the current Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. As the fight against racism lies at the very heart of that organisation's activities, I would like to commend to you the work of the Council of Europe in this regard, in particular the efforts carried out by the its Commission against Racism and Intolerance (EC.RI).
The Strasbourg Conference against Racism, which took place in October of last year under the auspices of the Council of Europe, was a great success and resulted in an action-oriented Political Declaration. Furthermore, the Council of Europe has been very successful in the elaboration of international legal instruments to combat racist phenomena:
Besides the Framework Convention for the Protection of National
Minorities and Protocol No 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights, prohibiting
all forms of discrimination, I would like to draw your attention to the Convention
on Cyber-Crime. This Convention is soon to be adopted by the Committee of Ministers
-- hopefully at our next meeting in November. The planned additional protocol
will penalize the spread of racist and xenophobic propaganda through computer
In July of this year the Committee of Ministers further approved a recommendation calling on member States to adopt effective policies and measures to prevent racism in all sports and, in particular, in football. Racist motivated violence in sports stadions sadly counteracts the great potential of sports to contribute to the intercultural dialogue. This recommendation therefore is an instrument of great practical value to combat such racist manifestations.
The Secretary General of the Council of Europe will in his
address to the Conference tomorrow provide a more detailed account of the organisation's
In Liechtenstein foreigners make up almost 40 per cent of the total population. Many of them have been living in our, country for more than one generation. Liechtenstein attaches great importance to the integration of foreigners, and the peaceful coexistence among various cultures is a feature of day-to-day life in our society. Fortunately, there are no political parties with xenophobic platforms, nor do any anti-Semitic or other racist movements exist.
However, like many surrounding countries, Liechtenstein has also been witnessing a rise in right-wing xenophobic tendencies in recent years. This prompted the Liechtenstein Government to draw up a catalogue of measures to prevent and combat such tendencies. In order to further concentrate the efforts in this regard, an expert group within the police and a coordinating group within the governmental administration were established.
As right-wing tendencies are regrettably becoming more widespread among young people, we attribute great importance to prevention in the field of education. Various awareness-raising programmes in schools and in the area of youth social work aim at improving mutual understanding between children and young people of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
Globalization and increased mobility are the characteristics of the modern world. Mono-ethnic nation States are history. We all live in multicultural societies where tolerance is a key issue and integration a major challenge. As political leaders, it is our duty to provide a framework for mutual respect of difference and diversity. For diversity is a gift and not a threat or - as Oscar Wilde put it - "variety is the spice of life".
We are now here in Durban to adopt a declaration and a programme of action that mark an essential step towards the fight against racism throughout the world. As we all know, there are many obstacles still to overcome, but let us reiterate our commitment to bridge the remaining gaps and let us put all our efforts into the follow-up process in order to make a real difference. May Durban become a landmark on our path to lasting equality and human dignity.