Their Excellencies Heads of State and Government The Secretary General of the
The Honourable Ministers of
The Secretary-General of the World Conference Against Racism Heads of
Guests Ladies and Gentlemen
Inspired by the collective efforts of humanity, slavery, slave trade,
colonialism and apartheid have all ceased to be. They have all been defeated
because; humanity could not countenance oppression of one by another, because
humanity has dared to affirm an injunction that we are all born equal with
inherent rights and dignity. These noble words are enshrined in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations and serves as a guiding light
and offers hope for all of humanity.
Representing the African women, I know the pain of slavery, colonialism and
apartheid whose legacy is staring me in the face everyday. My continent bears
the scars of conflicts, abject poverty, racism,
social exclusion, underdevelopment, economic disparities, humiliation and
indignity, that all have their roots in the practices of these abominable
all these systems, our country and its peoples have had to grapple with the
most stubborn and worse form of institutionalised racism, namely Apartheid. It
is because of the evils of apartheid that humanity took a decision that as long
as this system was allowed to exist, their own humanity would be denied and
their dignity violated. Consequently, they took a conscious decision to work
energetically and tirelessly to remove this aberration. We thank the
international community for this selfless act.
can take pride in the rote of this region in the long struggle against racism.
It was in this Province that Mahatma Gandhi launched his non-violent resistance
struggle and later inspired the freedom struggle in India. South Africa has a
long history of resistance symbolised by the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to
Chief Albert Lutuli, who was the first African leader to receive it and comes
from this region. Despite the triumph against racism, all countries of the
world continue to battle against the contemporary forms of racism. It is my
hope that at the end of this Conference, we will learn from and share with the
international community on the ways and means of dealing with racism.
Conference must issue a clarion call to the rest of the world to end the evils
of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
Concomitantly, with this call, we must launch a sustained Programme of Action
capable of being implemented by every country at every level.
recognising the work that has been produced thus far, I wish to thank all
Member States for their contributions in their respective regions. This was
by intensive preparatory meetings and consultations in Geneva. Indeed, at times
it seemed gloomy and hopeless, but we persevered and recorded substantial
progress. We must build on that, aware of the sensitivity and pain involved in
confronting these issues. It is my hope that we shall together respond to the
challenge before us. We must succeed; we cannot afford anything less than
The Youth Summit and the NGO
Forum have also discussed these issues and challenged the conference to
bequeath them with non-racial, non-sexist, tolerant and peaceful world. We dare
not fait them. This will be a fitting tribute to ail those who over generations
have sacrificed their lives in the
battle against racism.
will be remiss of me to conclude without acknowledging the dextrous work of the
High Commissioner for Human Rights and her Secretariat. She and her team have
performed brilliantly under trying conditions.
therefore, accept with humility, the task assigned to me as President of this
Conference by this distinguished Assembly. My success is dependent on the
cooperation of ail of you. I know, without doubt, that ail of you will
contribute in any way you can to make this Conference a success.
his book, Long Walk to Freedom, the icon of our struggle Mr Nelson Mandela made
this seminal comment " I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view
of the glorious vistas that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have
come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities
and I dare not linger for my long walk is not yet ended". It is my fervent
hope; at the end of this conference we will look back proudly of the road
traversed thus far and go on to give concrete expression to the Programme of
Action and the Declaration that we would adopt.