GLOBALIZATION, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL, 'SHOULD ALSO GIVE US A HUMANITY FREE OF THE BARRIERS OF RACE'19990316 On Occasion of Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 21 March, Kofi Annan Stresses Racism Can, Will and Must Be Defeated
Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, observed on 21 March:
Today, we mark this century's last Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It is a century that has been scarred like no other by the evil of racism. Yet, it has witnessed, too, a revolution in the relations between races -- from America to Asia to Africa and to Europe. From colonial oppression to the triumph of the civil rights movement, from genocide to self-determination, from racist atrocities to the end of apartheid, the century has given us reasons to rejoice and reasons to remain vigilant. Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. In most modern conflicts, the men of war prey on the ignorance of the populace to instil fears and arouse hatreds. That was the case in Bosnia and in Rwanda, where genocidal ideologies took root in the absence of truthful information and honest education. That is the case in so-called developed and peaceful societies, where inhuman acts of racism continue to be perpetrated between neighbours to this day. If only half the effort had gone into teaching those peoples what unites them, and not what divides them, unspeakable crimes could have been prevented. Bigotry, hatred, prejudice -- these are the ugly symptoms of a sickness humanity has always and everywhere suffered. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with tolerance, bigotry with knowledge, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. More than four decades ago, Martin Luther King, Jr., taught us that hate "is like eroding acid that eats away the best and the objective centre of your life. Hate destroys the hater, as well as the hated". If today, globalization is creating a world community without borders, it should also give us a humanity free of the barriers of race. And so, on this day, we resolve again to confront the worst in man with the best in man. Racism can, will and must be defeated.
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