Republic of Tunisia

Address by

President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali

President of the Republic of Tunisia

to the 3rd World Conference against Racism, Discrimination,
Xenophobia and related forms of Fanaticism

Delivered on his behalf by Mr Slaheddine Madoui, Minister delegate to the Prime Minister in charge of Human Rights, Communication and Relations with the Chamber of Deputies

Durban, August 31 - September 7, 2001


In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

Mr. Chairman,

Your Excellencies, the Heads of State and Government, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As the Third World Conference against Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia and related forms of Fanaticism convenes in the sisterly Republic of South Africa, I am pleased to extend to His Excellency, President Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa, my heartfelt thanks for hosting this conference, in a country that was able, thanks to the struggle and sacrifices of its loyal children, with guidance from the Leader Nelson Mandela, to eradicate apartheid, a system of government which was a stark violation of human values and an utter defiance to the fundamental principles of human rights.

As I commend, in this regard, the sincere efforts exerted by the United Nations Organization and all other participating parties, to counter the various aspects of racism and fanaticism and to build a world where all parties can coexist despite their differences and where the values of tolerance, solidarity, and mutual assistance prevail, I hope that the proceedings of this Conference will be crowned with success, thus giving substance to the steadfast commitment of the international community to fight all forms of discrimination and hatred.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Human rights may be considered as a set of principles and values derived from the long-standing heritage of human civilization, through which mankind attempts to express its aspiration for dignity and freedom on an equal footing, without considerations of race, color, religion, language, gender, or social belonging. Such principles and values are reflected in international agreements and conventions, and their contents have evolved in line with the development of mankind and with mankind's attachment to dignity and freedom, on the widest scale possible, without any discrimination on whatever ground.

Today, we are called upon to deepen our awareness with regard to the comprehensive nature of human rights and to work together to address the negative consequences of the past and their impact on individuals and peoples by reinforcing the foundations of solidarity, tolerance, and a partnership based on cooperation and assistance to those in need, hence ensuring future generations with a better future, excluding all forms of racism and fanaticism.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The adverse effects of the various forms of racism and hatred previously endured by mankind, and their trail of practices against a number of peoples have contributed to igniting armed conflicts and led to widespread racial hatred and to the emergence of regimes based on racial discrimination. When racism and hatred are allowed to develop, this necessarily leads to a denial of the most basic foundations of human rights and constitutes inherently a threat to peace and security worldwide.

We believe that the phenomenon of widespread violence against foreigners in a number of societies is supported and

fired up by extremist movements on racial grounds. We believe that the development of armed racial conflicts, the clear disparity in the pace of development in various parts of the world, poverty, disease, and the lack of prospects, as well as the hazards of estrangement and racial fanaticism, in addition to the marginalization of a number of peoples and needy sections of society; all such aspects are likely to find, in a context marked by quick developments in our contemporary world, a way to come to the forefront and to develop. This could ignite even further the feelings of hostility between peoples and threatens security and peace. We are therefore called upon to step up our common endeavors and address all such aspects for which we see no justification at present.

The various forms of hatred and racism which we observe today in a number of regions worldwide confirm that this is an international phenomenon which should be of concern to the whole international community. Their eradication is therefore a shared responsibility of mankind as a whole. We should like to avail ourselves of this opportunity to call for tangible steps to stand up to practices which are detrimental to human dignity and to set up appropriate mechanisms to attain this goal within the framework of international solidarity.

Mr. Chairman,

Your Excellencies, the Heads of State and Government, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Globalization has resulted in intertwined interests and closely interrelated societies. It has also, and at the same time, provided an appropriate climate to firmly root solidarity in international relations, which is likely to contribute greatly to the eradication of the various international problems, chiefly the various issues of racism and hatred and the development of intolerance.

Whereas globalization has reinforced relations between nations and promoted the world economy, it has also resulted in a clear discrepancy in taking advantage of its benefits. We are therefore called upon to find appropriate solutions to address the problems of marginalization and exclusion that

might result from it and that are likely to ignite hatred and


This is an opportunity to reiterate our proposal to set up a World Solidarity Fund, ratified by the United Nations General Assembly and adopted by a number of other international organizations. We believe that the speedy establishment of this Fund i : an assertion of the international community's commitment to the values of solidarity to eradicate poverty and marginalization in the world which, for the most part, represent a breeding ground for hatred and racist practices.

We should like to point out, in this context, that despite the perfectly good intentions expressed by the international community to fight such negative aspects, the Middle East is still a hotbed of tension due to Israel's continued aggressive policies and practices, its repeated violation of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, despite the resolutions of the international legality and related international decisions asserting the right of the Palestinian people for selfdetermiriation and for building its independent state with AlQuds A1-Sharif as its capital.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We in Tunisia are perfectly aware of the unrelenting efforts needed to address all forms of racism and to firmly establish the values of human rights and comply with their standards. Ever since the Change of November 7, 1987, we have endeavored to lay the foundations of a civilizational project based on the preservation of the citizen's dignity and on buttressing his civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights without any distinction or exclusion; and also based on upholding the values of brotherhood, solidarity, and tolerance.

As a consequence, we have striven to consolidate the values of solidarity and brotherhood within Tunisian society. We have taken steps to set up the National Solidarity Fund which complements other mechanisms serving solidarity with a view to addressing the adverse effects that might arise from economic and social changes taking place in our country due to our adherence to the course of globalization and our determination to develop our country by relying mainly on our own human resources.

We have also ratified international conventions related to the struggle against racism. In 1995, our country also hosted an international conference on tolerance, crowned by the Carthage Charter on Tolerance.

Our participation in this conference today end the responsibilities discharged by our country to prel.are the conference are an illustration of the importance we attach to such events which we consider as an opportunity to up)old the efforts of the international community to stand up to the various forms of racism and to promote the values of human rights everywhere and without any distinction, with a view to meeting the legitimate ambitions and aspirations of our nations.

I should like to conclude by reiterating my wishes of success to your Conference.

Thank you for your attention.