Commission on Human Rights
25 March 2003
Commission Continues Consideration of Racism,
Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and all Forms of Discrimination
The Commission on Human Rights heard this morning from the Foreign Ministers of Germany, the Netherlands, and Portugal as well as the Vice-Foreign Minister of Angola who addressed several human rights issues, paying particular attention to the current crisis in Iraq.
Joschka Fischer, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, said war always represented a defeat. Germany’s opinion was that there could have been another way to realise the demands of the international community – through the peaceful disarmament of Iraq by the United Nations weapons inspectors. This was not a time to apportion blame; the international community must now respond to the impending humanitarian disaster and ensure that all warring parties abide by international humanitarian law.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, speaking both in his capacity as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and Chairman in Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said he hoped the conflict in Iraq would end soon with a minimum of loss of human life and suffering. He said that the United Nations must play a central post-crisis role, address humanitarian needs and help the Iraqi people to live in freedom, dignity and prosperity under a representative Government that would be a responsible member of the international community.
Antonio Martins da Cruz, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal, said Portugal had always been in favour of exhausting the multilateral framework to reach acceptable solutions. Unfortunately, this had not happened in the situation of Iraq. However, the Commission must not forget that extremely grave violations of human rights had been committed by the Iraqi authorities for years and that 17 United Nations Security Council resolutions had been violated. He said the United Nations must play a central role in the post-conflict rehabilitation of Iraq.
Georges Chikoti, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Angola, said it was a crucial moment in the world, particularly for Iraq, with war now a fait accompli and with serious consequences for international relations. Angola did not lend support to military solutions outside the United Nations framework since Angolans knew the meaning of war, having felt its effects on body and soul. The cohesion of the Security Council, as an instrument for peace, would be important for the peaceful resolution of the Iraqi crisis.
The Commission decided this morning, following an agreement reached by the Expanded Bureau, to hold the general debate on the report of the High Commissioner on human rights in Colombia on Friday, 4 April.
Also this morning, the Commission continued its general debate on racism and racial discrimination, raising issues on the widespread prevalence of discrimination and intolerance in all regions of the world; the worrisome nature of Islamophobia; national initiatives to eradicate racism within the framework of the Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference against Racism; the importance of international cooperation; and the need to celebrate diversity and respect peoples of all countries, ethnic backgrounds and religions.
The representatives of the following countries addressed the Commission: Cuba, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, India, the Republic of Korea, Libya, Norway, Egypt, Switzerland, Iraq, Lithuania, Slovakia, Iran, Kuwait, the Holy See, Qatar, the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, and Yemen.
Representatives of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; the World Health Organization; and the International Labour Office also addressed the Commission.
The representative of Iraq exercised his right of reply.
The Commission will reconvene at 3 p.m. when it is expected to conclude its consideration of its agenda item on racism and racial discrimination and begin consideration of the right to development.
Statements from the Podium
GEORGES CHIKOTI, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Angola, said that the Commission was holding its session at a crucial moment in the world, particularly for Iraq, with war now being a fait accompli, and with serious consequences for international relations. The war was bringing chaos to life all around the world. Angola did not lend support to military solutions outside the United Nations framework. Angolans knew the meaning of war, having felt its effects on body and soul. All parties involved in the conflict should honour their obligations under international law, respect human rights and try to bring the conflict to an end as soon as possible to allow the United Nations to put in place a peace process. Human rights norms should be respected at all times.
Angola shared the ideal of a peaceful world and would continue to respect standards of international law, the United Nations resolutions and those of the African Union, as well as the fundamental interests of its own people, Mr. Chikoti went on to say. For Angola, the cohesion of the Security Council, as an instrument for peace in the world, was important for the peaceful resolution of the Iraqi crisis. War should be avoided for it only brought about the destruction of sovereign countries and the loss of countless human lives. The promotion of human rights, and the respect for human dignity and fundamental freedoms were a guarantee for the achievements of a just and peaceful world. Angola recognized that the UN had played a crucial role in the achievement of that great mission.
Mr. Chikoti said that the peace and reconciliation process that had been underway in his country, seeking national reconstruction and the conditions for a complete return to normality for the life of Angolans, under the rule of law, had been successfully completed. It was incumbent on the Government not only to carry out tasks to consolidate peace, but also to promote national reconciliation, and to reintegrate into society demobilized soldiers and their families, as well as persons displaced by war. In spite of the Government's efforts to ensure the promotion and defence of human rights in the country, it was still necessary that the international community came to its assistance. The United Nations had continued to assist the Government in its task of consolidating peace, implementing democracy and promoting national reconciliation and human rights.
ANTONIO MARTINS DA CRUZ, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal, said that the situation in Iraq was a matter of concern and the Commission needed to face and consider the ongoing conflict. The Government of Portugal had always been in favour of exhausting the multilateral framework to reach acceptable solutions. Unfortunately, this had not happened and this was why the world was witnessing a dramatic situation in Iraq. It should be noted that the violation of 17 United Nations Security Council resolutions imposing full and unconditional disarmament had led to the current situation.
Mr. Martins da Cruz said that the Commission must not forget that extremely grave violations of human rights had been committed by the Iraqi authorities for years. There was wide use of the death penalty, torture, political assassinations, repression, inhuman and cruel punishment, and no freedom of expression or liberty to voice opposition to the Government. Minorities had been persecuted and international humanitarian law had been violated. The dimension of human rights violations in Iraq had probably not been dully assessed at the United Nations Security Council debate.
Mr. Martins da Cruz said that last week the European Union had addressed the Iraq issue, stressing the central role of the United Nations in the post-conflict rehabilitation of Iraq, in the respect for the rights of the Iraqi people and in maintaining the territorial integrity of the country. Portugal stressed that in conflict situations, prisoners and the civilian populations should be treated according to the principle of international humanitarian law. Human dignity should be preserved at all times.
Mr. Martins da Cruz said that the international agenda should focus on a solution to the Middle-East problem, replacing violence with dialogue. The world could not accept the intolerable images that it was witnessing on a daily basis and which should not be seen in the twenty-first century. The situation in North Korea was also a matter of serious concern. The country possessed weapons of mass destruction and was among the worst perpetrators of human rights violations.
JOSCHKA FISCHER, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, said the war in Iraq was a great concern to the international community and its consequences and effect were a cause of great concern for a large majority of the population in Germany and Europe. War was terrible. War always represented a defeat. It was a great tragedy, first and foremost for those involved, but also for everyone else. Germany's opinion was that there could have been another way to realise the demands of the international community - the way of peaceful disarmament by the United Nations weapons inspectors. But this was not the time to apportion blame. One must look to the future and the community of States was called upon to respond to these dramatic events.
Human rights were particularly at risk in times of war and crisis. The war would further weaken the population of Iraq. The risk of humanitarian disaster was a cause for grave concern. For these reasons all warring parties must abide by international humanitarian law. Above all the civilian population needed to be protected. As much as the war in Iraq required attention, one must not forget the other war, namely the common campaign against international terrorism. One must prevent human rights and fundamental freedoms from being cut back and watered down under the pretext of fighting terrorism. One could only be successful in combating terrorism if it was combated whilst respecting human rights, not by ignoring or even contravening them. In the long term, allowing people to share equally in political, social and economic life was the most enduring method of conflict prevention.
The German Foreign Minister said that in spite of efforts to outlaw torture worldwide, the extent to which it was still practised was horrifying. It was a matter of concern that a growing number of States tacitly or even explicitly tolerated the use of torture in the fight against terrorism. The prohibition of torture was absolute, and even in extreme situations there could be no exception. Any legitimisation of torture would undermine the foundation established by decades of hard work aimed at enshrining human rights in international law. The establishment of the International Criminal Court 18 days ago had been a milestone in the history of international law and the international protection of human rights. For the first time ever a permanent tribunal had been created to prosecute war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Germany called on all States which had been hesitant or critical of this project to ratify or accede to the Statute. Only with the universal support of the community of States could the Court do full justice to its duties. All States had to fight to ensure that human rights were respected and implemented in all countries. A war could be won with military means, but peace could not. Lasting and stable security was only guaranteed once human rights and fundamental freedoms were recognised.
JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and Chairman in Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said that as the Commission was meeting in Geneva, a military conflict was taking place in Iraq. He hoped that the conflict would end soon with a minimum loss of human life and suffering. He felt strongly for all who were suffering. The United Nations should play a central role after the current crisis. Major humanitarian needs should be addressed. Europe would stand ready to effectively contribute to the conditions allowing the Iraqi people to live in freedom, dignity and prosperity under a representative government. A government that would be at peace with its neighbours and a responsible member of the international community.
Mr. Scheffer said it was pre-eminently in the field of human rights that the efforts of national governments and those of various international organizations could and should reinforce each other. Interest in promoting and preserving human rights was the common denominator linking the United Nations, the European Union, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and many national governments. Each organization had its own particular strengths and assets. One should make every effort to maximize cooperation and coordination between them. This constituted one of the key objectives of the Dutch Government while it was at the helm of those three organizations; the OSCE, the Council of Europe (from the end of this year) and the European Union as of the second half of next year.
Mr. Scheffer continued to say that men and women who were sowing terror in the world mocked international security. All States should take their responsibility and protect their citizens against terror. But there was another side. When adopting its Charter on Preventing and Combating Terrorism last year, the OSCE had warned against infringing on human rights in the fight against terror. Non-observance of human rights could be a breeding ground for extremism, often leading to terrorism. That should guide all actions as one strived to eradicate the terrorist threat. The Commission on Human Rights had played a key role in shaping and refining those universally accepted norms.
Statements on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and all Forms of Discrimination
MARIA DEL CARMEN HERRERA CASEIRO (Cuba) said that many industrialized countries had expressed reservations on article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, which was precisely the one banning the use of propaganda and the establishment of racist organizations. The prevalence of individualist and discriminatory models of political, social and economic organizations, which nationally and internationally tended to deepen social exclusion and marginalization, facilitated an appropriate setting for the unfolding of contemporary forms of racism and xenophobia. Unequal distribution of wealth, inside countries and among them, aggravated as a result of the globalization of markets and the globalization of the economy based on individualistic grounds, was undoubtedly the main factor behind exclusion and marginalization.
The 11 September criminal attacks on the United States had placed the need to fight terrorism at the centre of the international agenda. The fight against that scourge, however, could not be carried out by enacting laws that imposed the terror unleashed by groups and power elites or by fabricating stereotypes of alleged "terrorists" associated with a certain culture and religion. Cuba expressed its concern about the adoption in various industrialized countries of legislation whose implementation had a negative impact on the protection of the rights of migrants and asylum seekers. Such rights were already being brutally trampled on before such legislation was passed. The most critical case, which reflected a persistent picture of massive and flagrant violations of human rights, was that of the United States. No other country revealed a more illustrative case of systematic institutionalisation of racism, encompassed in all aspects of the political, economic, social and cultural life. In the wake of 11 September, hundreds of peoples had been subjected to arbitrary detention, incarceration and inhuman treatment because of their complexion or Arab or Muslim origin.
CHRISTOPHER WESTDAL (Canada) said that Canada viewed the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance as a central objective in the international human rights agenda, and central to its achievements was action at all levels of government. A broad, strong international framework and active global commitment were essential, certainly, but what counted were national, local and municipal policies, programmes and activities. Canada viewed the elimination of racial discrimination and related intolerance as a comprehensive national priority.
Canada’s population was diverse and complex. It brought together indigenous peoples, and people from every corner of the earth, uniting them in common citizenship and values. These values of respect, tolerance and accommodation, and respect for the reality of the other were essential to Canadian identity and peace and prosperity of Canadian society. Respect for this diversity had been enshrined in the constitutional Charter of Rights and Freedoms and was reflected in a wide range of national legislation, including the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Official Languages Act and the Canadian Multiculturalism Act.
MARICLAIRE ACOSTA (Mexico) said racism and racial discrimination were serious violations of human rights. Since its establishment, the United Nations had undertaken activities to combat exclusion and racism, as could be seen in the elimination of institutionalised forms of racism such as Apartheid. Unfortunately, neither the United Nations nor the international community had been able to achieve the words of the Charter - that all people were born equal. In fact, new and more subtle forms of racism and discrimination were emerging on a daily basis. Any statement which undermined the noble principles of the Charter on issues relating to racism was contrary to the democratic principles that should govern States. These principles required unrestricted respect and they must underpin international law. Her Government supported all efforts intended to give effect to the Durban agreements. In order to ensure their implementation, the Government of Mexico supported the work of the Working Group on the follow-up to the Durban provisions.
Mexico also supported the work of the Working Group on persons of African descent and hoped that experts would be appointed so that the Working Group could complete its important work. The particular vulnerability of women, children, refugees, and indigenous people was also highlighted. In this context it was necessary to establish national standard setting systems which ensured their economic, social and cultural rights. In combating racism, education played a central role. In fact, education was needed to ensure that future generations could grow up in a world without discrimination. In this context, the Government of Mexico suggested that increased focus be put on the relationship between poverty and discrimination. One could not expect results at the international level if States did not begin at home. In Mexico, the subject of discrimination was therefore a priority issue.
FREDERICO S. DUQUE ESTRADA MEYER (Brazil) said that his country welcomed the reports of the High Commissioner on the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the reports of the Intergovernmental Working Groups on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the Working Groups of Experts on People of African Descent and that of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The contents of those reports, however, confirmed that much more remained to be done to combat racial discrimination, both at the national and international levels. Brazil was a particular beneficiary of the Durban process. The country had the largest contingent of people of African descent outside Africa, and the second in the world, outnumbered only by Nigeria. More than 200 different indigenous peoples lived in the country, most of them keeping their cultural traditions.
As a result of a history of colonialism and the trans-Atlantic slave trade, people of African descent faced a lack of access to education, adequate housing and health care in Brazil. They faced discrimination in day-to-day life, and were under-represented in high-level positions of public service and in the private sector. All that occurred despite efforts made by the Brazilian authorities and the civil society to impose their situation. Brazil felt itself very close to Africa and reaffirmed its full support in its fight against HIV/AIDS and for access to affordable medication for all. Brazil was convinced that racism and democracy were incompatible; and no society could be proud of itself when political platforms overtly pursued intolerant ideologies.
PANKAJ SARAN (India) said that India had always been in the forefront of the international fight against racism and racial discrimination. In 1946, India was the first country to raise its voice against apartheid at the United Nations and its Constitution prohibited discrimination on any grounds, including race. Despite mankind’s impressive triumph against Apartheid, the phenomenon of racism and racial discrimination continued to persist and, indeed, grow in many parts of the world. The global civilization was witness to a recrudescence of extreme forms of exclusivism, hatred and racial discrimination, which were taking increasingly violent forms.
Besides theories of racial superiority, some other important sources and causes of racism and racial discrimination were glaring economic disparities; the onslaught of bigotry, chauvinism and violence against diversity; the absence of democracy; political concepts in which foreigners were regarded as rivals or competitors and a threat to local prosperity, culture and identity; immigration, citizenship and refugee laws with racist overtones; and political platforms based on race-related hatred and discrimination. Modern communication technologies such as the Internet were also a convenient tool in the hands of those spreading racial hatred. There was a need for continued focus on the important role of education and information in order to eliminate racism. The power of education needed to be harnessed to instill the right values in young minds which were vulnerable to racist influences.
YOUN-SOO LEE (Republic of Korea) said that building on the various efforts made over the past year, the international community had come to a stage where simply discussing the matter was no longer sufficient. The international community must engage in more concrete and measurable efforts to eliminate racial discrimination. In the efforts to achieve the eradication of racism and xenophobia, above all, the education of the younger generation had priority. Education of young people about non-discrimination and respect for human rights was essential. Efforts must be exerted to bring home to them that all human beings were born free and equal in dignity and rights. The goal was to help them appreciate that all members of the human family had equal and inalienable rights and that these differences enriched human life and civilisation.
Together with education, provisions of domestic legislation, regulations and administrative measures, including provisions of remedies, recourse at the national level and so forth, must be introduced in order to implement the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. In this vein, the Republic of Korea commended the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for its many concrete steps taken to combat racism, such as the establishment of the Anti-Discrimination Unit, the hosting of seminars at the regional level and the co-hosting with UNESCO of a workshop to develop a publication to combat racism and foster tolerance.
FATEH BASHAINA (Libya) said that the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action represented significant steps in the fight against racism and racial discrimination and Libya was committed to their implementation. Some countries, however, had placed obstacles to the implementation of the Durban Declaration. Sadly, manifestations of racism and racial discriminations were on the rise, especially against Arabs and Muslims. Libya called for the compensation of victims of slavery. Indeed, it was thanks to slavery that the West had achieved its prosperity. Yet, people of African descent continued to be harassed in the same countries to whose development they had contributed. The West now claimed racial superiority while capitalist endeavors resulted in the exploitation of the resources of Africa. It was essential for Governments to take measures to provide compensation to the victims of racial discrimination and to impose penalties on those responsible for discrimination.
SVERRE BERGH JOHANSEN (Norway) said racism could be eliminated through focused, serious and long-term efforts by national authorities. In Norway's view, the common goal internationally must be to provide legal, political and moral reinforcement for each country's domestic fight against this scourge. At the same time, one must continue domestic efforts to design and implement legislative measures and national plans of action to combat racism and discrimination. However, racism was not only the attitude of one specific group of people towards people of different colours, religions or cultures. Racism and discrimination existed in all groups and cultures, even within minority groups. Prejudice must be combated, whether it was directed towards other members of a person's own minority group, towards other minority groups or towards the majority population, and regardless of who was exhibiting it.
In its own attempts to combat racism and racial discrimination at home, Norway had adopted and implemented national legislation expressly designed to combat this scourge. Norway was currently drawing up a general act prohibiting discrimination. A national policy and plan of action for the elimination of racism formed another core element of Norway's efforts to combat discrimination at home. In July last year, the Government had presented its revised national plan of action.
NAELA GABR (Egypt) said she associated herself with the statement made by the African Group on the issue of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Egypt also welcomed the full participation by States in the Durban World Conference against Racism and the follow-up measures provided for in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. At present, one could observe the increasing tendency of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia in many parts of the world. The repercussions of the 11 September attacks had been felt by Arabs and Muslims who were living as migrants in many places. The campaign of hatred against a certain category of migrants workers, particularly against Arabs and Muslims, had continued. Egypt supported the report of Doudou Diene, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
JEAN-DANIEL VIGNY (Switzerland) said the World Conference against Racism had been neither the beginning nor the end of the combat against racism. A majority of States and non-governmental organizations had for many years been carrying out work in preventing and raising awareness on racism. Durban would serve as a guideline for the combat against racism at the international, national and local levels. Nationally, the Durban text was being extensively distributed.
Switzerland aimed to strengthen the protection of victims, increase systematic monitoring of racism, and ensure the combating of new forms of racism and discrimination. Switzerland also aimed to raise awareness to ensure that discrimination based on sexual orientation represented a violation of human rights. Since 11 September, many people had wrongfully assumed links between a particular religion and terrorism. A nuanced approach was necessary - an approach that was based on legal tools and ensured full respect for human rights. Times like these called for the rapprochement of cultures and religions.
MAYIA HADI MAHDI (Iraq) said that one of the main objectives of the United Nations was to fight racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. However, since the 11 September attacks, Muslims and Arabs had been subjected to acts of terrorism perpetrated by certain States. Iraq respected the human rights of all people whether they were Muslims, Christians or whether they practised other religions. It also respected the principles of non-discrimination and had been promoting those principles. The recent aggression against Iraq was aimed at appropriating the wealth of the country. The people of Iraq were, however, resisting the aggression led by the United States and the United Kingdom. The aggressors were still not able to take over the small town of Om Kasr, five days after the war had started. The Iraqi people would continue to resist and fight back the aggressors.
ANDRIUS NLMAVICIUS (Lithuania) said it had been briefly stated by the European Union that follow-up and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Work required active and efficient cooperation at regional and international levels. In this regard, Lithuania recalled resolutions on cooperation between the United Nations and the Council of Europe and on cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe adopted by the General Assembly last year. These documents had shown that these organizations had made valuable contributions towards the implementation of the Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference against Racism.
Also recalled were the activities carried out by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, as well as the European Court of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. International institutions that had gained experience in this field must work closer together, exchange information and good practices. It was important that different international institutions complemented as opposed to duplicated each other.
MALIKA AIT-MOHAMED PARENT, of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said that the fundamental principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies - humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality - provided a solid basis for work to alleviate tensions, combat discrimination and have an impact not only on vulnerable persons but on the public as a whole. In response to the rise in discrimination and violence, in particular against minorities, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies had stepped up its efforts, intensifying its Global-Local Action to fight against discrimination. The action to reduce discrimination and violence in communities involved a number of areas, including AIDS, asylum seekers and migrants, over several years and was rooted at the local and community levels where such action could have a real, lasting impact.
IGOR GREXA (Slovakia), stressing the need for prevention, said that pre-emptive actions had been neglected in societies for a long time. The Communist power had always used the logic of repression more than that of prevention. Since 2000, the Government of Slovakia had adopted a bi-annual plan of action against racism and racial discrimination. The strategy would ensure the fight against racism and against all forms of racial discrimination on a daily basis, which was the message of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The issue of Roma people was complex and truly difficult, even among the other difficulties confronted by Slovakia. A series of specific measures had been adopted to ameliorate the situation of Roman people. However, a long route had to be traversed before the problem was resolved in full. International cooperation and participation of international organizations, including non-governmental organizations, was indispensable to resolve the problems facing the Roma.
MOHAMMAD REZA ALBORZI (Iran) said that the long standing desire of mankind to create a world free from racial hatred and xenophobia remained unfulfilled. Regrettably, these two man-made evils continued to ravage our societies. The ever-increasing incidents of racist nature had become a source of profound apprehension for the international community. The reprehensible attacks against Arabs and Muslims following the 11 September attacks, coupled with the persistence of the horrendous racial discrimination against Palestinians on a daily basis, provided ample manifestations of such deplorable phenomena.
As the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism pointed out in his report, a climate of widespread and systematic suspicion had descended on Muslims and Arab communities in many non-Muslim countries after the events of 11 September. Muslims in all corners of the world had suffered, particularly from all kinds of stereotyping and verbal and physical harassment. Examples of violence reported in Europe included extreme cases of physical violence, especially against women wearing head scarves, and attacks against mosques. There was a desperate need for all to engage in meaningful cooperation and dialogue for further understanding of different cultures and civilizations. Strong commitments from European countries to respect the human rights of Muslim communities were also indispensable.
AISHA M.S. AL-ADSANI (Kuwait) said that her country's Constitution was in conformity with the relevant international instruments against racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia. The principles of respect for human rights and dignity had been incorporated in the various legislation and in school curricula. The teaching of human rights and tolerance, as well as the rejection of discrimination, had been instituted in schools. An educational committee had been set up to monitor the implementation of those principles. The training of police and other law-enforcement agents had also including the teaching of human rights. The Government had put in place a committee that would ensure that no legislation contained provisions in contradiction with the international norms against racism.
DIARMUID MARTIN (Holy See) said the challenge of fighting racism had, if anything, become even more urgent in the period since the Durban Conference. Despite that urgency, however, the community of nations still seemed to have difficulty in addressing racism. It was as if some deep-seated fear or social inhibition prevented the international community from addressing this widely pervasive phenomenon with serenity and objectivity. His delegation felt that the primary place in the follow-up to the Durban Conference must be given to education. The racist hatred of today must not be passed, not even one generation further. It was necessary to find ways to educate future generations to a different vision of human relations, one which corresponded with the truth concerning the unity of humankind.
Racism was a challenge to peace. Peace could only be constructed in a climate of mutual respect and understanding, in the framework of the rule of law. The community of nations could only claim to win the peace when one could ensure, without discrimination, that all persons in the world had the security which enabled them to realise their own personal God-given dignity.
TANYA NORTON (World Health Organization) said that poverty and ethnicity were profoundly related. Discrimination caused and magnified poverty and ill health. The link between health and discrimination led to the conclusion that the respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights could reduce vulnerability to, and the impact of, ill health. Societies that addressed racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia also tended to provide for better health. In this context, human rights could serve as a useful framework for identifying and addressing underlying determinants of health. The outcome of the World Conference against Racism was an important global policy statement on how to operationlize and implement the fundamental human rights' principle of freedom from discrimination.
Since Durban, the World Health Organization had been actively promoting and developing activities for the recognition of racism as significant social determinants of physical and mental health. Importantly, attention had been given to the collection of data, disaggregated by ethnicity, to study disparities in the areas of health and living conditions, in order to better understand the social distribution of wealth in society, to ensure adequate monitoring of the health situation of vulnerable population groups, and to eliminate discrimination in the health system.
KHALID BIN JASSIM AL-THANI (Qatar) said that Qatar strongly believed that no discrimination should be exercised against human beings on the basis of religion, colour or ethnic origin. All people were equal according to the Constitution of Qatar. Racial discrimination was against the values of the society and was punishable by law. Non-governmental organizations were active in the country and played an important role in the field of human rights, especially in the fight against racism and racial discrimination, through awareness-raising campaigns. Qatar reaffirmed its commitment to continue implementing the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination through the enacting of laws, as it believed that all peoples were born equal in terms of rights and duties.
KIM YONG HO (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) said that today, racism and racial discrimination, the root cause of antagonism and hatred among nations, ethnic groups
and races, were prevailing more and more instead of being eliminated. It was due to the failure of the thorough resolution of the past practices of racism. The Durban Declaration had stressed the necessity and importance of apologies and reparations to the victims by the States responsible for colonialism, slavery and other wrong doings, regardless of wherever and whenever those acts were committed. Prevention of reoccurrence of past injustice and a bright future would be inconceivable without adequate resolution of past problems.
The Korean people had experienced grave sufferings under the Japanese colonial rule more than 40 years from the beginning of the 20th century. In that period, the Korean people were deprived of the right to enjoy their national culture and tradition as well as Korean names, and were even prohibited to use their mother tongue. More than 8.4 million young and middle aged people out of the 20 million population were forcibly drafted for slavish labour and service, 1 million people were massacred and 200,000 women and girls were forced to serve the Japanese military as sexual slaves. Nothing could cover up or gloss over the crimes against humanity committed by Japan which had pursued the most heinous policy of national discrimination and obliteration whose precedent could not found in the world history of colonialism.
MARTIN OELZ (International Labour Office) said that through its supervisory procedures, the ILO continuously assisted governments to promote and realise equality and non-discrimination at the workplace in accordance with Convention No.111. The multi-dimensional nature of racism and racial discrimination was increasingly being addressed through a number of the ILO's technical assistance programmes. For instance, the Office was preparing a major project on the question of forced labour and its linkages to discrimination, poverty and indigenous peoples in Latin America. A programme launched in Pakistan targeted extreme manifestations of forced labour among members of disadvantaged religious and ethnic minority groups. In Europe, the ILO continued to work on discrimination against migrant workers.
Last year, the ILO had drawn the Commission's attention to the fact that the 2003 Global Report under the follow-up to the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work would be dedicated to the elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation. He was pleased to inform the Commission that this year's Global Report would be released and made available on the Internet in the next few days.
TABRIZI SULEIMAN (Yemen) said that Yemen had ratified the International Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination and it issued periodic reports on its implementation. Yemenite society lived in harmony without any discrimination with regard to creed, tradition and customs. Yemen had ratified many international human rights instruments and had adopted democracy as its regime. Yemen had enacted legislation to promote the rights of minorities and laws were also passed to ensure protections of the rights of handicapped persons and children. Yemen reaffirmed the importance of the implementation of the Durban Declaration.
Right of Reply
A Representative of (Iraq), speaking in a right of reply, said that it was good to hear statements about the protection of human rights. But the same persons who spoke of that protection forgot what was happening in Iraq at this time. The country was being bombarded, and civilians, including children and women, were being killed. People also forget what was taking place in Palestine.
* *** *