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South Africa
H.E. Mr. Jacob Zuma

22 September 2011

  • Statement: English (Check against delivery)

Statement Summary

JACOB ZUMA, President of South Africa, said that 10 years ago, his country had had the honour to host the Durban Conference, which would have been inconceivable a decade before that. The Conference was a testament to the success of humanity against the “scourge and demon” of racism and racial discrimination. It was also a confirmation of the international community’s success in the struggle against the evil of racism, which the United Nations had boldly and correctly declared to be a crime against humanity.

He said that, in light of the preceding two centuries during which the African peoples had endured untold suffering, brutality and inhumane treatment under colonialism, occupation and apartheid, it was symbolic that the Durban Conference had been held on African soil, where the legacy of those ills was still visible. In Durban, the world had spoken with one voice and reaffirmed its commitment to continue to fight against the scourge of racism and to do everything to eradicate it, he said. The world had collectively agreed on the need for, and the significance of, a comprehensive framework to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

The Durban outcomes provided a comprehensive assessment of those forms of intolerance and offered a collective set of actions to address them, he continued. South Africa appreciated the General Assembly’s decision to mark the 10-year anniversary of the Durban outcomes, he said, noting the progress made in implementing those outcomes in combating racism. However, it remained a challenge, as it had in 2001, he said, describing racism and racial discrimination as a continuing “brutal attack on human dignity, an affront to the self-worth of individuals”. They had a prolonged and negative impact on its victims and were a negation of the United Nations Charter, he said, warning that their prevalence would be an indictment on the Organization itself and its Members.

Pointing out that all had long agreed that racism was an affront to humanity, he said the world must not be distracted from its noble struggle against it, and should continue with the same resolve and determination that had led to the end of slavery, colonialism and apartheid. Welcoming the apologies made to victims, the return of cultural artefacts to their places of origin and the payment of reparations, he emphasized that more remained to be done, saying he supported the initiative to erect a permanent memorial to honour the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.

He called on Member States and the world in general to reaffirm their political commitment to full and effective implementation of the Durban outcomes, and encouraged them to continue to adopt national anti-racism measures. Racism and racial discrimination continued to pose a challenge to humanity today, and must be eradicated through a collective effort, he said, adding that he looked forward to the adoption of the political declaration this afternoon.

Source: GA/11149

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