New York, 22 September 2011 - Secretary-General's Remarks to High-level Symposium on South Africa's Contribution to the Fight Against Racism and XenophobiaYour Excellency, President Zuma, Excellencies, Distinguished Heads of State and Government, Distinguished Ministers, Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,
Three years ago, I had the immense honour to meet Nelson Mandela.
I began to thank him for all he had done for freedom and justice, but he interrupted me.
The thanks, he said, should go to the millions of people in South Africa – known and unknown people - and around the world - men and women - who stood up for these essential principles.
It is they who freed South Africa from the bonds of apartheid.
Madiba's words capture the essence of what we are celebrating this afternoon: the universal values of human dignity and equality.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am honoured to be in such distinguished company today, as we gather to celebrate the centenary of the Africa National Congress.
The ANC is more than a political party. It is a movement - and a tangible expression of a vision.
The commitment and sacrifice of its members led to the emancipation of a nation from racist colonial rule.
The justness of its cause attracted support from around the world, and from all races and religions.
Its membership, too, reflects this broad approach.
The ANC was devoted to freeing black Africans, but it was never - nor is it now - a party exclusively for black Africans.
In such inclusiveness lie the seeds of harmony.
This morning I spoke at the General Assembly meeting commemorating the 10th anniversary of the World Conference Against Racism which was held in Durban, South Africa.
I observed that we have come a long way.
New laws, institutions, initiatives and means of communicating are changing mindsets.
We are better attuned to recognize and reject discrimination based on race, faith gender or sexual orientation.
We are better prepared to prosecute and protect against grave crimes such as genocide.
Yet intolerance and hate are still with us.
Discrimination against Africans and persons of African descent remains.
Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia persist.
Asians and persons of Asian descent, indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees and minorities still endure discrimination and persecution throughout our world.
We must all do more to embrace diversity and safeguard peoples' rights.
Ladies and gentlemen,
When Nelson Mandela walked free the world sang with joy.
Ever since, South Africa has stood as a beacon of hope for Africa.
I felt it myself last year when I visited Johannesburg for the opening of the World Cup.
Overwhelmingly, people want this non-racial democracy to succeed.
Under the leadership of the ANC, and President Zuma, the new South Africa established firm foundations.
It has quickly built a tradition of smooth democratic transition.
It has a progressive constitution that entrenches and protects rights that most developed countries have not managed to guarantee, and gives women one-third of the seats in parliament.
South Africa has a robust economy, and is an influential voice in continental and world affairs.
This year, it will host the important climate change negotiations in Durban.
All these things are testament to the country's success and, to the ANC's success, for it is the ANC that has presided unassailably throughout.
Yet with such success, such power, also comes great responsibility.
The power of the ANC lies not just in the numbers of people who vote for it, but the vision that it stands for.
This has always been the movement's strength, and it is this vision that the world looks to now.
The struggle for freedom, justice, human rights and against racism is a global battle.
I see the ANC in the vanguard, not just in South Africa but throughout the continent and the globe.
I count on your continued determined effort to defend the fundamental principles enshrined in our United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Defeating racism, tribalism, intolerance and all forms of discrimination will liberate us all, victim and perpetrator alike.
Thank you very much.
Statements on 22 September 2011
- New York, 22 September 2011 - Secretary-General's remarks at High-Level Commemorative Event : "Dag Hammarskjöld's Legacy for UN Preventive Diplomacy in the 21st Century"
- New York, 22 September 2011 - Secretary-General's Remarks to Mini-Summit on Cooperation with Member States on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence in Conflict
- New York , 22 September 2011 - Secretary-General's remarks at Security Council High-Level Briefing on Preventive Diplomacy
- New York, 22 September 2011 - Secretary-General's statement to the press on the High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security
- New York, 22 September 2011 - Secretary-General's message to the Meeting of Ibero-American Ministers of Foreign Affairs [delivered by Ms. Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean]
- New York, 22 September 2011 - Secretary-General's closing statement to High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security
- New York, 22 September 2011 - Secretary-General's message to Global Counter-Terrorism Forum [delivered by Mr. Robert Orr, Chairman, UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF)]
- New York, 22 September 2011 - Secretary-General's Remarks to General Assembly at Meeting Commemorating 10th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action
- New York, 22 September 2011 - Secretary-General's remarks to the opening session of the High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security