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UN Conference on Racism

UN Conference on Racism

Published on April 21, 2009
Adoption of the final declaration - Statement by Bernard Kouchner, Foreign and European Minister

Paris, April 21, 2009

I want to applaud the adoption of the final declaration of the Durban Review Conference. This text represents real progress in the UN debate on the fight against all forms of racism and discrimination.

Indeed, we have come a very long way with respect to the initial contributions, which contained numerous provocations, recalling the erring ways of Durban I. All those references that we had deemed unacceptable have disappeared, thanks to our firmness—the firmness of France and the EU—and thanks to our resolve to maintain the thread of dialogue and our desire to succeed, shared by a very large majority of the participants.

All those who are determined to make the fight against racism and all forms of xenophobia a universal battle must welcome the adoption of this declaration. This fight is vital to all societies of the world. The Geneva declaration underscores its importance and reminds us that democracy and the rule of law, like education, play a critical role in preventing and combating racism.

As we had hoped, this declaration contains several references to the freedom of opinion and expression, which is inextricably linked to the fight against racism. It also recalls the need to remember the Holocaust and the fight against impunity for crimes of genocide; and finally, it mentions the rights of women and gender equality, the fight against human trafficking, and non-discrimination against persons with disabilities and those with HIV/AIDS.

France hopes this declaration will lay the foundations for a climate of renewed trust on an issue that is crucial to the progress of human rights. Its adoption signals the failure of all those who attempted to exploit the Geneva Conference to spread ideas of hate and intolerance.

But this declaration is not an end in itself. On the contrary, it encourages us to continue the battles that are the same ones being waged by the French diplomatic corps, notably in favor of the universal abolition of the death penalty, the full equality of men and women, and the decriminalization of homosexuality./.

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