Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today paid tribute to the Government of Malta for taking part in the United Nations anti-racism conference under way in Geneva, calling for international solidarity to combat discrimination.
“You have all read the headlines,” Mr. Ban told Malta’s House of Representatives, referring to media reports of remarks made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the start of the Durban Review Conference.
But he encouraged the parliamentarians to “read the fine print,” stressing that the outcome document adopted by the Conference’s participants yesterday is carefully balanced, addresses all key issues and is founded on the principles of equality and human dignity.
The document “takes concrete steps toward the abolition of racism and hatred. It sets the stage for a global campaign for justice for victims of racism worldwide,” the Secretary-General added.
He underscored that discrimination must be challenged at every turn. “It is neither a time for grandstanding nor sitting it out. Every member state must be a full partner in the struggle.”
In his address, which also covered climate change, the economic crisis and irregular migration, he urged every UN Member State to come to the table to defeat intolerance and “address global problems as a single human family.”
Also today, the University of Malta awarded Mr. Ban with an honorary degree in recognition of his contribution to raising awareness on climate change at a ceremony in Valletta, the capital of the Mediterranean island State.
Noting that he drew encouragement from the decision to bestow the degree in the name of climate change, Mr. Ban said that no issue “better demonstrates the need for global solidarity. No issue is more essential to our survival as a species. And no issue is more fundamental to long-term security and sustainable prosperity.”
The Secretary-General is travelling to Brussels to co-chair a global gathering tomorrow in support of the Somalia Security Institutions and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
Meanwhile in Geneva, the third day of the Durban Review Conference, which will wrap up on Friday, heard from UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.
He told delegates that the landmark Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) agreed on by States in 2001 explicitly acknowledged racism and other forms of intolerance as being among of the root causes of persecution, driving displacement and statelessness.
In the eight years since that gathering, it has become increasingly difficult for people seeking protection from persecution to access territories, he said.