Madam President,
Madam High Commissioner, Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Government of Mongolia I most warmly congratulate you, Madam President, on your unanimous election to the Presidency of this historic Conference. I also wish to congratulate and thank the Government and people of South Africa for an outstanding organisation of our forum.
Our congratulations and thanks also go out to Madam High Commissioner whose inspiring efforts contributed so much to focusing the attention of the world on the Conference and the noble causes it stands for.

Madam President,

The timing and venue of this Conference could not have been indeed any better. On the threshold of the new millennium and spurred by an ever-increasing pace of globalisation, we, the family of nations, owe it to the generations part and future to say a resolute "NO" to racism, discrimination and intolerance in all its forus, and, through adopting action-oriented Declaration and Plan of Action, move beyond rhetoric to joint actions. It took the mankind centuries~to abolish the criminal practices of slavery. It took the United Nations half a century to eradicate colonialism. Now we must unite in a struggle against the ideology and psychology of racism and discrimination, perhaps the most dangerous enemies of justice, freedom and development.

Madam President,

We, in Mongolia, with our ancient culture of nomadic traversing and curiosity, firmly believe in the creative dynamism of diversity and curing effects of tolerance. We have a proud history to have once united under the roof of one empire the cultures, nations and civilisations of Asia and Europe. Marco Polo, when he first visited Kharakorum, the capital of the Mongolian Empire of the XIII century, was awe struck by the unparalleled by the standards of the time cultural and religious diversity and tolerance of the empire. Muslim mosques, Buddhist temples and Christian churches stood
peacefully next to each other, and people of different races and colours lived together in harmony.

In"today's Mongolia we strive to maintain and enrich the traditions of the past and fulfil our obligations under more than thirty international human rights conventions to which we are a party to. The 1992 Constitution of Mongolia contains a separate sub-chapter on human rights and in its Article 14 it prohibits discrimination on the basis of nationality, origin, language, race, age, gender, social standing and origin, wealth, occupation, religion and education. Article 70 of the Criminal Code of Mongolia makes it a criminal offence p punishable by an imprisonment for up to three years to incite racial and nationalistic disturbances, and to infringe directly or indirectly upon one's rights and freedom on the account of race, nationality and origin.

Madam President,

As we see it, the prejudices of racism and discrimination originate in poverty, ignorance and subconscious culture of domination. Eradication of poverty and giving power back to people - these are the twin pillars of the human rights policy of the successive Mongolian governments. In implementing these policies, we are beginning to realise the over-riding importance of legal and judicial reforms for developmental and human rights purposes. Major pieces of draft legislation currently under scrutiny in the parliament, such as Civil and Criminal Codes, and Civil and Criminal Procedure Codes, are designed to provide, inter alia, for better safeguards against human rights abuse and for stringent penalties for those who perpetrate them.
One of the first laws adopted by the new Parliament of Mongolia, formed last July, was a law establishing Human Rights Commission of Mongolia. The Commission up and running since 1 January this year, is already making its impact felt. The Government of Mongolia will do its utmost to help the Commission to develop into a full fledged and effective human rights protection machinery.

In implementation of the 1993 Vienna Declaration, the new Government of Mongolia organised last December a national conference on human rights and earlier this year it launched preparatory activities to develop National Human Rights Action Programme. To assess the current status of human rights protection in Mongolia, and sketch the basic parameters for the National Action Programme, we have conducted a nation-wide survey on human rights awareness and protection. We have also used the survey to carry out some educational programmes and raise public awareness of the destructive consequences of human rights abuse, including racism and discrimination in its various forms. The preliminary results of the survey indicate that much remains to be done in Mongolia in this field, and we in the Government of Mongolia intend to do what it takes to bring the human rights protection in our country up to international standards. The local human rights action programmes will be adopted by local legislatures later this year, with the National Action Programme scheduled for discussion and adoption by the Parliament next spring. We believe that the National Action Programme, with its two-prong goal of developing a comprehensive human rights safeguard mechanisms and improving the capacity of governmental and civil society institutions to detect and remedy human rights violations, will become a pivotal instrument in our national fight against racism and discrimination in all its forms.

The United Nations Centre for Human Rights and UNDP are providing us with much needed help both with the Human. Rights Commission and National Action Programme. I take this opportunity to thank the dedicated staff of these two UN bodies for the job well done and wish them further success in their noble endeavours.

Madam President,

In a follow up of this Conference, we plan to stage a wide range of national educational and awareness programmes aimed at preventing and eradicating racism and discrimination. In this we count on the co-operation of non-governmental organisations, educational institutions and media. We plan to focus our attention on psychological and cultural aspects of these degrading phenomena and create an atmosphere of unacceptance of and intolerance to racism and discrimination.

We stand ready to learn and, in fact, are already learning from the experience of other countries. It was interesting to learn, for example, of the existence of the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Intercultural Committee in Ireland or the establishment of the Ministry for Gender Equality in the Republic of Korea.

Madam President,

We believe that on-going comprehensive judiciary reforms in Mongolia will have a critical impact on the ability of victims of human rights abuse, including racism and discrimination, to find an effective redress and recourse in the courts of law. The reform efforts will include significant training and re-education of judges, prosecutors and advocates, enhanced ethical standards and new modern principles of court administration and case management. More often than not, people suffer human rights violations, racism and discrimination at the hand of government bureaucrats of various shape and form. Therefore, we in the new Government of Mongolia took it upon ourselves to draft on a priority basis a law on administrative courts, the ones that will handle complaints against actions and decisions of government officials. The draft law is already in the Parliament and we expect it to be passed next year.

Another critically important for the purposes of this Conference chain in the Government machinery is law enforcement apparatus. We tend to forget that police and security forces are often the first contact point with the government for those who are discriminated against, abused and vulnerable. Multilateral and bilateral donors and international organisations tend to shy away from extending a helping hand to these agencies on the pretext that they could, in theory discriminate and ill-treat the vulnerable groups of the society. Yet with better training, equipment and incentives these very agencies could and should become the first line of defence against racism and discrimination.

In this regard, we note with satisfaction the preparation and distribution by the Centre for Human Rights of manuals and handbooks on Human Rights and Pre-Trial Detention and Human Rights and Law Enforcement, and we urge the Centre to expand its activities in this direction. We also welcome the decision by the High Commissioner to establish a separate anti-discrimination unit reporting directly to her.

Madam President,

For us this Conference symbolises our condemnation of the crimes of the past, our acknowledgement of the problems of the present and our resolve for a better future. We have gathered here to take stock of complex and inter-twined nature and causes of racism and discrimination ranging from poverty, social inequality and ignorance to deep-rooted psychological and cultural prejudices. The 18-month long preparatory process provided us with an opportunity to stress the role of education and media as well as the importance of inter play between governmental and civil society institutions.
We in Mongolia see the Conference as a milestone event in nurturing common intellectual and practical strategy to combat racism and discrimination. We are confident that the Conference will be crowned with success and its action-oriented final documents will help us build for the generations to come a diverse and multi-cultural world free from the curses of racism and discrimination.

We in Mongolia stand ready to make our modest contribution to this noble and titanic labour.

Thank you, Madam President.