Kofi Annan sees South Africa as an inspiration

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan Friday paid glowing tribute to the host of the World Conference Against Racism, saying South Africa had provided a beacon of hope for Africa and the rest of the world.
In his address to 15 Heads of State and thousands of other delegates at the opening of the conference, Anan said former Presidents FW De Klerk, Nelson Mandela and presently President Thabo Mbeki, were shining examples of individuals who played a vital role in ending racism in its "vilest form".
Anan also paid tribute to Mbeki's father and liberation hero Govan Mbeki, who died the previous day, by calling for a minute's silence.
The Secretary-General said there should be an end to disagreements and wrangling that cloud the issues of racism.
He said the conference had raised expectations "which we must not disappoint," warning that "if we leave here without agreement we shall give comfort to the worst elements in every society".
Urging the audience further, Annan said "if, after all the difficulties, we can leave with a call to action supported by all, we shall send a signal of hope to brave people struggling against racism all over the world".
In a strong appeal, he said "let us rise above our disagreements," adding "the wrangling has gone on long enough".
Annan said some of the worst injustices of the past were traceable to individuals who were still alive, or corporations that were still in business, insisting they should be found accountable for their actions.
"Each of us has an obligation to consider where he or she belongs in this complex historical chain," he said, noting that "it is always easier to think of the wrongs one's own society has suffered [and] less comfortable to think in what ways our own good fortune might relate to the suffering of others, in the past or in the present.
" He also touched on the complexities of the Middle East, saying the hardships that Jews had been through should never be forgotten, including the Holocaust which he described "the ultimate abomination".
Still, the UN scribe added that "we cannot expect Palestinians to accept this as a reason why the wrong done to them [including] displacement, occupation, blockade and extra- judicial killings should be ignored, whatever label one uses to describe them".

31 august 2001 09:42:00

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