World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Durban, South Africa
4 September 2001

Your Excellency, Madame President Dr.DlaminiZuma
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our most sincere condolences to the People of South Africa, and especially to President Thabo Mbeki on the passing of the dignified son of this soil and respected leader, Govan Mbeki.
The fact that this conference is taking place in the land of Nelson Mandela, and of so many other leaders and martyrs who led this people to overcome the hateful regime of legal apartheid, makes it compulsory for all of us, as the international community, to increase even further our efforts to immobilize the demonic forces of racism, discrimination and xenophobia in their various forms of manifestation.

The Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries which, besides their Member States has as observer and future Member State, Eastern Timor, whose people elected their first constituent assembly last week, is committed to the consolidation of processes that must root out from our societies, and from the international community, the practices and consequences of racism, acknowledging that they are always responsible for negative impact on the development of the nation States, and on human development in all countries. We all have perceived that racism dehumanizes its victims as well as it dehumanizes the agents of the processes which it generates.

The challenge facing us here is to do what has never been done, to commit ourselves to what we have never before committed ourselves to, to agree to what we have never before agreed to, to create ethical parameters, at the global level, evaluating, based on principles of justice and equality of civil rights, the disgraceful consequences of our historical trajectory in order to, at the present time, apply to ourselves the necessary remedies and value the knowledge which will lead us into a future in which diversity and the cosmovision of different human groups are no longer references for exploitation and domination.

This Third World Conference, whose initial proposal was made by a notable diplomat of our community, creates possibilities for new civilizing postures of respect among peoples, with regards to sovereign national interests and the right to self-determination of peoples. We are dealing above all with the right to differences associated with the universal human rights of men and women of all ages, ethnic origins and cultures.

Before this Assembly of the United Nations, we contemplate
five centuries of injustices, crimes and manipulation, of inequalities which today are materialized in the vulnerabilities of our societies where injustices pile up. Memories of all wounds were reopened for the purpose of moral and ethical criticism in the presence of all humanity in order that such displays of what is worst in human intelligence never be repeated. This has been a painful intellectual and psychological exercise but one that shall guide us along the route towards changes.

Retaking the meaning of the great Second World War, we can, from there, arrive at some meaningful reflections. During the last century, the twentieth century, racism was taken to its extreme and contaminated all societies. The perversities of the Holocaust, the daily racism which immobilizes national populations in spaces of misery, above all blacks in the diasporas and indigenous peoples, but also immigrants and especially women belonging to these human groups, the fratricidal wars, are the result of the political trajectory of these peoples. The rich nations are increasingly being pressured by the global processes they led.The impoverished nations live a daily existence of encouraged conflicts. Above all, in Africa, populations die in inconceivable proportions, especially if we take as reference the international data and technical knowledge available, victims of illnesses ,such as malaria, which they could already have eradicated, including the still ever growing torment of AIDS.
Racism, which for centuries was articulated mainly against Africans, Indians, Arabs , Asians and Jews, assumes now generalized forms. Human cultural and religious differences are used as instruments to define advantages and disadvantages, fed from the social imaginary which more and more is taught to disqualify or mystify the other.

Social and sexual inequalities, racisms, have a common denominator: the hegemonic anti-ethical practices exercised without references or criteria of respect for economic, social, cultural and existential rights. Such manner of exercising interpersonal hegemonies, regional hegemonies, are roads to destruction, oppression, political, social, economic and psychological disarticulation of nations, peoples, social groups. Fear and mistrust are fed and become essential for conflict which can be reproduced in wars and other acts of violence.

The results of the negotiations of this conference will be extremely useful for all if and only if they produce considerable levels of reduction of these forms of imposition of hegemonies, in such a way as to allow for the better distribution of wealth produced by humanity and collective well-being.

The CPLP, Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, in its constitution and action has shown new forms of relationships among our countries. The community has constructed political and diplomatic relationships and forms of cooperation which have allowed us to deal with our past as a reference for structuring in the present processes of development in order to ensure better conditions for our peoples and more just participation in production and usufruct of the global wealth.

The consolidation of our young democracies and of peace in all the community has been the challenge which faces us in our daily lives in Angola, Brazil, the Cape Verde Islands, Guiné Bissau, Sao Tomé e Principe, Mozambique, Portugal and, in the process of nation building, Eastern Timor.

Based on ethics and cooperation, this young institution, created from the political will of our Heads of State and our peoples, has transformed into advantages our diversity and geographical presence on various continents. We have the objective of making the language that unites us, Portuguese, the instrument of diffusion of a history of peoples who reflect new consensus and principles which should be materialized in public policies and which create transforming impact on the daily lives of our peoples, contributing in this way to processes which conduct to new partnerships, more solidarity and greater commitment to the international community with the eradication of racism.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, especially taking into consideration the History of our peoples - and the example of our many leaders - based on our meaningful experience as community, and to that of each Member State, we are certain of the contribution we can make and of how much we have to learn. The majority of societies were developed from colonialism and slavery which are at the base of structural inequalities and which use machismos and racisms to maintain themselves. Andocentrism is an important source and determines structural inequalities affecting from the family unit to institutions as well as the position and the condition of women and children. When having survived, Native and Indigenous peoples in general, have had as their only option disaggregating assimilation.

The consequences of this reality have a negative dramatic impact, particularly on the African continent and on Afro-descendents of the diaspora. In this way, inclusion of these human groups in plans and policies dedicated to the development of the African continent can be fundamental for the inclusion of these human groups in the processes of development of their countries.

History changes, and be changed, and should be changed, daily. Human interference in each period of history produces new values. Let us make of this a new era a time of productive and sustainable relationship with mother earth, and among the peoples who inhabit the planet. This Assembly, enriched by the participation of our civil society societies, has the power and the moral strength to introduce meaningful changes in the history of humanity. Therefore, let us exercise that power, creating policies and processes which will dignify our interference in the destiny of humanity.