H.E. MR. Abdul Sattar,
Foreign Minister of Pakistan
World Conference Against Racism,
Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and
It is an honour to be in South Africa. The history o f your people - their travail, their fortitude in the protracted struggle ag~inst tyrannical Apartheid and their glorious triumph - is an inspiring epic of humanity's irresistible determination to win freedom and equality, and glorify the dignity of the human person.
This being my first visit to South Africa, I want to offer tribute to Nelson Mandela. His life testifies to the transcendence of the human spirit over oppression and persecution, hatred and vengeance. He nd his intrepid companions - Steve Beko, Olivier Tambo, Aflred Xuma, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki and Thabo Mbeki among others - etched their immortal names in the history of humanity's march to civilization. They suffered and sacrificed so that others may live in honour and dignity, free from alien domination and dehumanizing discrimination. We join in the grief of the people of South Africa at the passing of Govan Mbeki.
Long before Pakistan won independence in 1947, the leaders of our freedom struggle denounced the Apartheid laws enacted by the Smuts regime as "sinister" and a "relapse to the prejudices and taboos of the dark ages." In another resolution they declared: "The conscience of the world cannot turn a deaf ear to the groans of the oppressed". Pakistan sponsored the inscription of the item on Apartheid on the agenda of the UN General Assembly and extended unstinting support for struggle of the South African people for human dignity, equality and non-discrimination.
I recall the historical position taken by our nation not to seek credit but to emphasize that the cause we upheld was - and is - right and righteous,founded in principles of justice and in the articles of our faith.God says:
"O humankind'. We created you male and female,and made you nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Sure ly the noblest among you in the sight of Allah is the best in conduct."1
Prophet Mohammad (may peace be upon him) said: "Neither a black person has superiority over a white person nor a white perso over a black person."
The Pakistan delegation comes to this Conference with pride in the faith of our people in human equality, and the commitment of the founding fathers of our State to practice and promote equal rights among people of different races and religions at the domestic as well as international levels.
Since independence, the Government of Pakistan has taken steps to protect and promote equality and tolerance at the internatiolal level as well as at home.
Our Constitution forbids discrimination on grounds of race, religion, caste or sect . 2"All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law." 3 "Every citizen shall have the right to profess, practice and propagate his religion." 4 The Constitution imposes an obligation on the State to "safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of minorities, including their due representation in the Federal and Provincial services." Affirmative action to implement that provision includes reserved seats and weighted representation of minorities in Federal and Provincial Assemblies and elected urban and rural Councils.
Pakistan participated constructively in the preparatory work for this Conference. We shall do the same here, confident that under your wise and
able leadership, this conference will achieve significant success. The sagacious contribution of Secretary General Kofi Annan and the sincere endeavors of Human Rights High Commissioner, Mary Robinson, will be essential ingredients for a consensus outcome on ways and npeans to address and overcome the scourge of racism.
Racism and racial discrimination were inventions of the powerful. Their egocentric claims to superiority were self-serving illusions, rooted in avarice and exploitation. Colonial powers took shelter behind presumptuous slogans - "White man's burden", "Civilizing Mission" and "Manifest Destiny" - to justify slavery, colonial domination and exploitation. Indigenous populations of new continents were subjected to slaughter and
The past cannot be undone, but clearly the scars of deep wounds will not heal with the passage of time alone. Nor will verbal atonement suffice. A measure of restitution is necessary, through concrete affirmative action to redress the economic, social and psychological ravages suff~red by victim
Even while rectifying the wrongs of the past, the world community cannot be complacent about the present situation. Racism, xenophobia and intolerance persist. Millions have perished in the genocide in Rwanda, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia Herzegovina and in Kosovo. As we speak, savage repression is taking place in several parts of the world.
It is a sad commentary on the painful crawl of human 'Icivilization that policies of domination, racial prejudice, xenophobia and intolerance persist in our own time. Sadder still, politically motivated propagandists, sometimes in scholarly garb, concoct irrational theories to demonize people of other races and religions, predicting, justifying and indeed inciting vendettas by one human community against another.
Vilification of Islam, verging on racism, is an extremely disturbing trend. A billion Muslims are outraged that their religion of peace, with its
liberal, humanist ideals, is misunderstood and deliberately defamed and maligned by xenophobic lobbies.
It is sad that those who were the victims of racism - the Holocaust - are themselves succumbing to false rationales to justify and generate support
for their repression and discrimination against other peoples. An Israeli Prime Minister projected his country's policy against the Palestinian people
as a fight against "the threat of Islamic terror groups not only to Israel (but to) all moderate regimes."
Projecting the Palestinian people's struggle for self-determination as terrorism is a deliberate, discriminatory and unacceptable justification for
the policies of blockade, assassination, collective punishment and settler colonization which are being imposed against the Palestinian people. The Conference cannot but speak out on this issue.
It is sad that, in our own region, this theme of denigrating the struggle for self-determination as terrorism, and associating terrorisml, with Islam, is
being actively promoted to justify the on-going brutal repression of the Kashmiri people. The effort by Indian publicists to exploit prevalent prejudices cannot mask the fact that seventy-five thousand Kashmiris have been killed in the last decade of their struggle for freedom, that a solution for Kashmir will have to respond to the wishes of the Kashmir people, and that such a solution is essential to establish friendly relations between Pakistan and India.
During the preparations for this Conference, the OIC members adopted two non-papers which outlined their concerns relating to Palestine as well as Jammu and Kashmir and other issues of concern to the Islamic countries.
The OIC paper on Palestine has already been submitted during the negotiations in Geneva. I wish to inform the Conference of the Second OIC paper, whose text reads as follows:
"We express our concern at the grave violations of human rights in many parts of the world and express our determination to work together to prevent their occurrence. The victims of human rights violations in occupied Azerbaijan territories and in Jammu and Kashmir must never be forgotten.
We stress importance of full implementation of the Dayton peace accords in Bosnia/Herzegovina and economic recovery for the consolidation of peace and stability. We are deeply concerned about the difficulties faced by the returnees and the fate of over 20,000 missing persons and absence of functional central institutions."
A contemporary and ugly manifestation of racism is the discrimination against non-European migrants to the affluent countries. Resisting the logic of free movement of goods, capital and services, some industrialized States exclude immigrants on basis of race or national origin. Political parties in some of these countries openly engage in virulent tirades against Asian and African migrants. State authorities remain apathetic to discrimination in wages, housing, and education, and even to incidents of violence against migrants.
Some States prohibit discrimination on paper but do not act to prevent and punish violations. Their authorities abuse anti-terrorism laws to detain
immigrants claiming to possess ",secret evidence". Media in these countries promote prejudice and discrimination.
Xenophobic political groups in some countries openly proclaim and advocate discrimination and exclusion on basis of race or religion. Muslim girls and women are frequent victims in education and employment if they prefer to wear apparel appropriate to their own culture and tradition.
Paradoxically, some of these very countries criticize emergent polities for systemic imperfections and absence of complete equality among citizens. Ignoring the Biblical exhortation they behold the mote in their brother's eye, but do not consider the beam in their own.
Pakistan ,hopes that the Declaration and Programme of Action to be adopted by this Conference will reject imposition of concepts and value systems of one civilization on others. We must instead encourage harmony in diversity.
The Vatican is to be commended for launching the Interfaith Dialogue to overcome the prejudices of the past and strive for mutual understanding. Similarly laudable is Iranian President Seyed Mohammad Khatami's initiative for a " Dialogue among Civilizations".
The world community will benefit by promoting understanding and respect for all cultures and civilizations. It will inculcate tolerance between individuals, groups and nations.
This important conference provides an opportunity to initiate further programmes and actions to comprehensively address and overcome the scourges of racisms, xenophobia and related intolerance.
Past crimes must be acknowledged and affirmative action set in motion to repair the ravages inflicted on human communities. To that end, Pakistan suggests that this Conference request the UN Secretary General to appoint a group of eminent experts with a mandate to recommend appropriate measures for redress and restitution.
We must uphold the rights of indigenous peoples and ethnic groups to retain and express their distinctive identities.
The rights of migrant and expatriate communities to maintain their cultural and religious identities must be forcefully affirmed.
Poverty is the consequence of and also a justification for racism. The elimination of racism can be most effectively advanced by bridging the gap between the rich and the poor, within and across national boundaries. This Conference must adopt recommendations for action at the national and international level to promote equitable economic development throughout the world on the basis of human solidarity. Globalization should advance global development.
National legislation must be adopted and effectively implemented to suppress and eradicate racist ideologies and practices. The sense of impunity for racist crimes evident in certain societies must be eliminated through effective prosecution and swift retribution. Freedom of speech must not be a license for propagation of racist prejudice or religious intolerance.
Finally, as President Mbeki said yesterday, racism has always been an instrument for the exploitation and subjugation of other peoples. A central pillar of the struggle against racism is to enable peoples to exercise their right of self-determination. Experience has made it evident that suppression of this right is no longer an acceptable or wise option. A new international and political endeavour is requested to inject deeper and wider content into the right of self-determination in the modern era.
We believe this conference can make a difference.
We must act collectively to ensure action at the global level.
We must also commit us to take action at home.
If we do what we should, the world will be a better place for our peoples and for our children.
I thank you.