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H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser
President of the 66th session of the General Assembly

22 September 2011

  • Statement: English (Check against delivery)

Statement Summary:

NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar), President of the General Assembly, said today’s gathering was reaffirming that all nations “are one family, rich in diversity”, adding that, it was that diversity that enriched humanity and steered progress. “And it is through the celebration of diversity, as well as through the promotion of tolerance and dispelling fears of the other, that we build a more peaceful world.” Such a world was based on the fundamental principles of equality, trust and mutual respect.

The meeting, he continued, was an opportunity for world leaders to speak with one voice on one of the most critical global challenges of the twenty-first century: the continuing scourge of racism and xenophobia. It was also an important opportunity to recommit to the full and effective implementation of the actions outlined in the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. Together with the outcome of the Durban Review Conference, held in Geneva earlier this year, the Programme of Action was the most comprehensive framework for combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, he said. It highlighted the issues faced by victims of discrimination, including those of African and Asian descent, migrants, refugees and specific vulnerable groups, such as indigenous peoples and other minorities.

He went on to say that the framework also emphasized the necessity for all States to remember the crimes and wrongs committed in the past, whenever and wherever they had occurred. “We must unequivocally condemn these racist tragedies and tell the truth about history,” he added, stressing that that would be essential for international reconciliation and the creation of societies based on justice, equality and solidarity. Unfortunately, despite some progress since the Declaration and Programme of Action was adopted a decade ago, instances of racism, intolerance and xenophobia had increased in intensity and severity, he said. Indeed, racist attitudes and hate speech could be found in many countries, and the Internet was proving to be a new vehicle for spreading such ideas.

While countries had come a long way in removing obstacles to the realization of the fundamental principles of equality and non-discrimination, much more remained to be done, he said. “I would encourage all countries, individually and collectively, to intensify efforts aimed at reducing instances of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” It was the responsibility of States to take the necessary legislative measures to prevent discriminatory practices and grant justice to the victims. In addition, Governments, working with stakeholders including civil society and business, should intensify awareness-raising initiatives and enhance education to combat ignorance and effectively address the root causes of prejudice and negative stereotypes, he said, adding that today’s Meeting was an opportunity to come together in unity and address those critical challenges.

Source: GA/11149

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