(Durban, South Africa) September 3, 2001

Madam President,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Vietnamese Government attaches paramount importance to this Conference, especially for the fact that it is taking place in South Africa whose people's staunch struggle under the leadership of their national hero Nelson Mandela against the apartheid system constitutes a great inspiration for the peoples the world over fighting against racism and racial discrimination. The result of this Conference will certainly have profound bearing on the noble cause whose call for actions brought us here. My Delegation will do its utmost to contribute to its success.

Madam President,

At a time when man with most sophisticated and advanced technology is exploring other planets in search of signs of life other than his and taking measures to protect wild animals, we are still looking for answers to the question what we should and can do to put an end to uncivilized, often very barbarian, acts human beings are committing against other human beings just for the difference of their skin colors, nationalities, languages and descents. The painful memories of the sufferings and destruction caused by slavery, colonialism, fascism and the emergence of new forms of racism and racial discrimination such as xenophobia and neofascism make the convening of the Conference all the more necessary and timely. Before us are many issues demanding appropriate solutions. For the fact that racism and racial discrimination have been existing for too long, we can only find such solutions with determination, genuine co-operation and solidarity. What has emerged from the discussions during the preparatory process is that such solutions require of us true respect for history, a true sense of responsibility for our future generations and concrete measures aimed at helping the peoples of developing countries for too long victims of colonialism and other forms of racism and racial discrimination. Furthermore, as racism and racial discrimination have always associated with wars, aggression and interference, the reality of only yesterday convincingly tells us that such solutions must be based on the most fundamental principle of international relations, that of respect for national independence and sovereignty. I hope that this understanding will guide us all in our deliberations and find its expression in the Declaration and Program of Action that we are going to adopt.

Madam President,

Viet Nam is a multi-ethnic country with nearly 60 ethnic communities. Of 77 million Vietnamese, nearly 10 million people belong to ethnic minorities living mostly in mountainous and remote regions of the country. For ages oppressed and discriminated against by foreign occupying forces, the Vietnamese people had always been bound together in their common struggles for survival. The State and Government of Viet Nam consistently strive to bring into full play this fine national tradition. The country's Constitution stipulates: " The State carries out the policy of equality, solidarity and mutual assistance among all ethnic communities and forbids all acts of ethnic discrimination and division...". Specific provisions on protection of the fundamental rights of people belonging to ethnic minorities can be found in all other basic legal documents such as the Civil Code, the Law on the Organization of the People's Courts, the Criminal Code, the Criminal Procedures Code, the Labor Code, the Law on Election of Deputies to the National Assembly, the Law on Protection of Public Health, the Law on Education ... Necessary mechanisms have been created to ensure their implementation such as the National Assembly's Council on Ethnic Affairs and the Government's Committee on Ethnic Affairs and Mountainous Regions. Ethnic minorities are well represented in State and Government institutions. Out of the 450 deputies to the current 10th National Assembly, the highest legislative body of the country, 78 come from ethnic minorities accounting for 15.6%. At the local levels, the proportions are much higher, ranging from 45 to 55%. Many important positions in both the national and local governments, such as Ministers and provincial leaders, are held by people coming from ethnic minorities. In formulating and carrying out socio-economic policies and programs, the Vietnamese Government always reserves for ethnic minorities preferential treatment aimed at gradually leveling the development gaps between all " sisterly communities " as ethnic communities are called in my country. Softer conditions are required for the children from ethnic minorities to be enrolled to schools, colleges, universities and other educational establishments. The same principle is applied in the recruitment of public servants. The result of the review of the ten-year implementation of the Government's Decision 72HDBT of 1990 on Socio-Economic Development of the Mountainous
Regions shows that substantial progress has been achieved. At present, numerous projects and programs are being implemented with a view to promoting development of those regions , especially programs of large scale such as Program 133 on Poverty Reduction and Program 135 on SocioEconomic Development launched in 1998. With important results recorded, in carrying out these projects and programs, however, we are encountering huge constraints for the difficult geographical and other natural conditions of these regions and from the lack of funds. We look forwards to receiving the continued support and assistance of the international community.

Madam President,

As a peace-loving country, a party to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and other major international human rights instruments, Viet Nam will continue to find itself amongst the ranks of peoples struggling against racism and racial discrimination wherever and in whatever form it may occur. Let me express our conviction that together we will succeed in this noble cause.

I thank you for your attention.