His Excellency,
Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa;
Her Excellency,
Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
His Excellency,
Kofi Annan,
UN Secretary General;
Heads of State and Government;
Ms. Mary Robinson
Ladies and gentlemen.

Allow me at the outset, on behalf of the People and Government of the Republic of Mozambique and on my own behalf, to congratulate the people and Government of the Republic of South Africa for hosting this important conference.

May I seize this opportunity to express our heartfelt gratitude for the warm hospitality reserved to us since our arrival in Durban and for the excellent conditions put at our disposal for the smooth deliberation of our business at this important gathering.

I would also like to congratulate you, Madame Chairperson for your unanimous election to preside over the deliberations of this World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Other Related Intolerance.

Madame Chairperson,

Notwithstanding all efforts invested towards achieving this noble goal, this decade has also been the witness of various forms of racism, including the realisation that all societies in the world are affected by many forms of discrimination.

As we come close to the end of the Third Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination, it is about time to think of practical and bold steps to eradicate racism, including measures to protect the society against these evils.

To this end, our goal should not only aim at raising the awareness about racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other related intolerance, but also at adopting a positive action at the national, regional and international levels in order to protect the present and future generations from the scourge of such hideous acts.

This endeavor requires the adoption of new methods of social engagement and a renewed commitment i n our actions. The ratification and implementation of the agreed international instruments to combat racism and racial discrimination in all its forms by all countries of the world could give an additional impetus to our common enterprise.

We need to work together to build and disseminate a culture of peace and tolerance, to ensure that the lines of discrimination and intolerance are replaced by an understanding sense of self-confidence, showing how the human community enjoys the richness of its diversity. By participating at this forum, my delegation would like to reiterate Mozambique's firm commitment to fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and all kinds of related intolerance, because we believe that the persistence of these evils wellsprings many World's conflicts.

Madame Chairperson,

The core issues under debate here are no doubt of a complex and multifaceted historical dimension. They can be seen from the perspective of slavery to colonial phenomenon; from the situation of poverty to ethnic conflicts; from the fate of indigenous peoples world-wide to discrimination based on belief; from hate speech on the internet to the link between racism and gender discrimination. In short, altogether, the agenda of this World Conference leaves no room for complacency to those who persist in the wrong course.

The stability of our countries can better be built and consolidated by the adoption and subsequent implementation of policies that accord priority to the principles of inclusion and national identity, as stipulated in the International Declaration of Human Rights, International Convenant on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and other relevant international instruments.

Accordingly, this debate should also take into account the traditional and contemporary forms of racial discrimination, including a description and characterization of social segments that are particularly affected by different forms of discrimination.

It is worth paying due attention to the fate of immigrant workers, refugees, women, children, the elderly, who are the victims, one way or the other, of discriminatory harassment on a daily basis.

If we want to reap the benefits of globalization, then, it is proper and legitimate that we use those technological achievements for peace and development purposes in the first place.

It is therefore essential that we work together to make this conference a landmark in the struggle to eradicate all forms of discrimination and look forward to rally efforts to build a common cause, that is, the edification of a brighter future for the generations to come.

It is our considered view therefore, that the hideous practices of the past, such as slavery, colonialism, apartheid, and other forms of social exclusion must be recognized as immoral in all its forms. These malpractices symbolized the ultimate aberration of human civilization.

As we embark in the avenues of peace and development, our generation has the moral and political obligation to heal the wounds of gloomy days of history and make sure that under no any given circumstances, the mankind will be subject again to those untold sufferings. That is why is so important that we keep reminding ourselves about this past, not for revenge, but to make sure that it is not repeating itself again.

Our task today is to build bridges of friendship and solidarity between the oppressed and the oppressors of yesterday with a view to finding viable solutions for the serious challenges abating the majority of our people in the unprivileged world. Let us then work together for a better future for all the mankind. Today all the necessary technical means to achieve this noble goal are available; what we need is a strong political will to make economic progress with social justice to happen in all countries of our planet.

Madame Chairperson,

In 1993 the Republic of Mozambique ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Since then, the main dispositions of this international instrument are reflected in our domestic legal frameworks. As a matter of fact, the Mozambique Constitution establishes that all citizens, regardless of their colour, race, sex, ethnic origin or religious belief, are equal before the law, all of our citizens enjoy equal rights and are subject to the same obligations. The main challenge we are facing today is to develop our institutions, so that all citizens can fully enjoy these rights.

Similarly, the Government's Five-Year Development Programme pays a special attention to issues susceptible to impact in racial discrimination. The plan defines, as a matter of priority in this field, the protection of human rights, particularly the rights of the most vulnerable segments of our society.

We pay a special attention to other phenomena, like regionalism and tribalism, since we are quite conscious of their potential to undermine development efforts, if related problems arising from thereon are not addressed in a concerted manner.

In the preparatory process of this World Conference, we are happy to report that the Government has organised a National Workshop on Racism and Racial Discrimination, with the involvement of the civil society at large with a view to enrich the debate and to sensitise public opinion to its importance and its objectives.

This experience taught us that a dialogue with all stakeholders of our society, by and large, brings about positive results in our common path towards the well being of the society. Therefore, there is a need for a continuous dialogue, both at home and internationally with a view to disseminate the results of this Conference, to build a common vision and commitment.

Madame Chairperson;

We are aware that the preparatory process of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance was rather a difficult exercise due to different points of view regarding certain relevant issues at stake.

Although we note with satisfaction that considerable progress has been made, in the last Session of the Preparatory Committee of this Conference over these issues, we would like to emphasize that the complexity of the question of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance requires a specific perspective for Africa.

The question has to be viewed not only from the ethnical and tribal perspective rooted in endogenous and historical backgrounds, but it is also important to stress that colonialism, apartheid and foreign interventions have greatly contributed to the economic and social hardships facing our continent.

We must address vigorously the issue of the continued marginalisation of the African and other developing countries from their right to global participation in the world affairs. Thus, globalization must, through international partnership and solidarity, become a driving force for the development of the entire community of nations in the world.

Developing countries stand a unique chance to yield the fruits of globalization through the development of sound economic and social programmes in partnership with the developed world. These programmes should first and foremost aim at eradicating poverty and opening a window of opportunity for sustainable development, which will only come true through a firm commitment to marshall a Foreign Direct Investment, seconded by an increase of the Official Development Assistance, ODA.

Furthermore, time an time again we are bound to ring alarming bells over the issue of External Debt burden. The debt is unbearable and renders null and void the capacity of our economies to take off towards a sound economic and social development of our countries.

As we continue to succumb in the hands of this burden, an outright debt cancellation appears, to our view, to offer a viable way out for the better prospects of the developing world; this measure associated with political and economic reforms underway in our countries will become a strong tool for prevention of conflicts, which, in turn, lead to discrimination and exclusion.

Finally Madame Chairperson, I would like to reaffirm my government's readiness to do everything in its power to work together with all countries of the world as well as with all wellwishers in the difficult task of implementing the decisions and resolutions to derive from this unprecedented conference.

Thank you.