Speech by Minister Nkosazana Dlamini
Zuma at the Opening Ceremony of the World Conference
Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and
Related Intolerance (WCAR) Durban 31 August 2001
Their Excellencies Heads of State and Government
The Secretary General of the United Nations
The Honourable Ministers of Foreign Affairs
The Secretary-General of the World Conference against
Heads of Delegation
Ladies and Gentlemen
In accepting the Presidency of this Conference, it
is appropriate to pay a
special tribute to the gallant fighter against racism
and son of Africa, Govan
Mbeki, who sadly passed away on the eve of this Conference.
Inspired by the collective efforts of humanity, slavery,
slave trade, colonialism
and Apartheid they have all ceased to be. Theyve
all been defeated, because
humanity could not countenance oppression of one by
humanity has dared to affirm an injunction that we
are all born equal with
inherent rights and dignity. These noble words are
enshrined in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations and
serves as a guiding
light and offers hope for all of humanity.
Representing the African women, I know the pain of
whose legacy is staring me in the face every day. My
continent bears the
scars of conflicts, abject poverty, racism, marginalization,
underdevelopment, economic disparities, humiliation
and indignity, all have
their roots in the practices of these abominable systems.
We can take pride in the role of this region in the
long struggle against racism.
It was in this province that Mahatma Ghandi launched
resistance struggle and later inspired the freedom
struggle in India and
world-wide. South Africa has a long history of resistance
symbolised by the
award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chief Albert Lutuli,
who was the first
African leader to receive it and comes from this region.
Despite the triumph
against racism, all countries of the world continues
to battle against the
contemporary forms of racism. It is my hope that at
the end of this
Conference, we will learn from and share with the international
the ways and means of dealing with racism.
Our Conference must issue a clarion call to the rest
of the world to end the
unspeakable evils of Racism, Racial Discrimination,
Xenophobia and Related
Intolerance. Concomitantly, with this call, we must
launch a sustained
Programme of Action capable of being implemented by
every country at every
In recognising the work that has been produced thus
far, I wish to thank all
Member States for their contributions in their respective
regions. This was
followed by intensive Preparatory Meetings held in
Geneva. Indeed, at times it
seemed gloomy and hopeless, but we persevered and recorded
progress. We must build on that, aware of the sensitivity
and pain involved in
confronting these issues. It is my hope that we shall
together respond to this
challenge before us. We must succeed, we cannot afford
anything less than
success. At the end of this century we must look back
at this Conference as
the beginning of an offensive against racism.
The Youth Summit and the NGO Forum have also discussed
and challenged the Conference to bequeath them with
a non-racial, non-
sexist, tolerant and peaceful world. We dare not fail
them. This will be a fitting
tribute to all those who over generations have sacrificed
their lives in the
battle against racism.
It will be remiss of me to conclude without acknowledging
the dextrous work
of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and her Secretariat.
She and her
team have performed brilliantly under trying conditions.
I, therefore, accept with humility, the task assigned
to me as President of this
Conference by this distinguished Assembly. My success
is dependent on the
co-operation of all of you. I know, without doubt,
that all of you will contribute in
any way you can to make this Conference a success.
It will be through our
perseverance and co-operation in the spirit of brotherhood
and sisterhood that
we will all succeed.
In his book, Long Walk to Freedom, the icon of our
struggle Mr Nelson
Mandela made this seminal comment " I have taken
a moment here to rest, to
steal a view of the glorious vistas that surround me,
to look back on the
distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment,
for with freedom
comes responsibilities and I dare not linger for my
long walk is not yet ended.
It is my fervent hope, that at the end of this conference
we will look back
proudly at the road traversed thus far and go on to
give concrete expression
to the Programme of Action and the Declaration that
we would adopt with
I thank you.