Statement by Dr Abdullah,
Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Islamic State of Afghanistan

World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination,
Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Durban, South Africa,

31 August - 7 September 2001


In the name of God, most Gracious, most Merciful,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, we would like to acknowledge institutions and personalities who contributed, from close or far, to the preparation, organisation and progress of the Conference. We would also like to thank the Government of the Republic of South Africa who gave us such a warm welcome in Durban.

We consider this meeting, which takes place significantly on this South African soil, as the most important and useful meeting of the begining of the 21st century, on condition it reaches out, as we all hope it will, to concrete and efficient results to struggle against racism, which, as UN Secretary General Kofi ANNAN said rightly, "can, will and must be defeated".

Afghanistan has been following the works of the General Assembly and the Preparatory Committee with much interest. Our country has also paid much attention to the debates and lively and sometimes difficult discussions which took place during the preparation of our meeting: the result is the necessity to heal the wounds of history, to see with lucidity the present worrying situation, and to build, if possible, a better future for the people of our planet.

Our main concern today is the gap between law and reality: the more legislations, conventions, declarations and resolutions we have, the more new forms of human rights abuses, hatred, discrimination and intolerance develop.

Equality in rights and non-discrimination are part and parcel of the basic objectives of the United Nations, since 1945, and numerous universal binding texts related to Human Rights, of a general or specific nature, refer to them explicitely: for example, the 1948 Universal Declar6tion of Human Rights; the 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery; the 1966 International Pacts on civil and politic" rights on the one hand, and on ecomonic, social and cultural rights on the other hand; the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the 1981 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; the 1989 Convention on the -Rights of the Child, etc. -Not to mention the numerous. regional instruments and .national laws which also guarantee equality and non-discrimination. We may be pleased to notice that national law tends to be increasingly in harmony with international law as- far as- respect of the legitimate state, democracy and fundamental human rights are concerned.

These necessary and useful advances as regards legislation, must not hide the terrible realities in this field which remain present here or there as a general matter of fact or in specific and particularly serious cases, like the case of our country: Afghanistan.

We know that millions and millions of men, women and children suffered and still do, from several forms of discrimination, racism, intolerance, xenophobia and violations of their fundamental rights. It is because of them that we are here today: we do not have the right to disappoint them.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to draw your attention to the particularly dramatic situation in the Taliban controlled areas of Afghanistan,: it is a laboratory, unique in the world, which is worth visiting and analysing. Every single fundamental, individual or collective right of the Afghan people is being seriously and brutally violated: a de facto authority is maintained against the Afghan people's right to self-determination; by the direct armed interference of Pakistan; the obvious discrimination against the several components of the population; summary executions, punitive sanctions or absurd rules of every day life behaviour; forced displacements of people; looting and destruction of our country's rich historical, cultural and artistic heritage. This list is obviously not complete.

These measures and standards are not only contrary to Islam and Afghan traditions, to all international instruments, they are simply against the essentiel civil, political, social-economic necessities of people, against the dignity of men, women, and children.

As a consequence, inside the country our people are hostages of a never before seen terror, and that outside the country millions of our refugees no longer know where to go.

Naturally in these conditions, the Afghan people, under the leadership and impulse of its legal and worldwide recognised Government, will continue to resist by all means, until the Pakistani-Taliban-Bin Laden agression comes to an end. Doing this it will not turn down any negotiation proposal, under the auspices of the United Nations, including a Loya Jirga (a traditional assembly composed of representatives of several categories of the Afghan population). The Pakistan and Taliban authorities have refused this option up to now.

This is the reason why we ask the World Conference against Racism to condemn this aggression and occupation, the first signs of which are precisely the violation of the fundamental human rights that we are supposed to guarantee and protect efficiently.

Thus, we ask the Conference to recommend the competent UN bodies to support us at every level in our efforts of union, dialogue and peace whose final aim is to safeguard the independence, territorial integrity and protection of fundamental rights in Afghanistan.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

To conclude, I should like to say that the Afghan government supports the efforts of this World Conference and approves the draft declaration and programme of action to be adopted by the Conference, which has to, according to the words of the General Assembly, "tackle globally all forms of racism, including contemporary forms of intolerance", and concentrate its action on "practical steps to eradicate racism..."

We would implement everything in order to reach this noble objective by practical means.

Thank you.