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STATEMENT OF THE PATRON OF THE TMF, THABO MBEKI, AT THE GLOBAL WATCH CONFERENCE – Thabo Mbeki

Thabo M MbekiSTATEMENT OF THE PATRON OF THE TMF, THABO MBEKI, AT THE GLOBAL WATCH CONFERENCE: EMPERORS PALACE, JOHANNESBURG. 20 NOVEMBER, 2014.

Programme Director,
Distinguished participants:

I am honoured to join the organisers in welcoming and thanking you for taking time to attend this important Conference.

I would also like to congratulate the Mandela Foundation, the Doha Goals Foundation, and the Sexwale Foundation for taking the bold initiative to form Global Watch with the slogan – Say no to racism!, focusing on the area of sport.

Bearing in mind the seriousness of this matter, I am certain that all of us will support the proposal to adopt a Draft Global Charter which will be, as stated, “a roadmap based on a basic set of principles to address racism and discrimination in sport.”

Similarly, I would like to believe that will also support the convening of National Summits both to finalise the Charter and adopt the visualised National Codes of Conduct which, again as stated, would govern “the conduct and behaviour of each country’s sports persons vis-a-vis racism and discrimination.”

In this context, we will recall the United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which was held in Durban in August-September 2001.

The decision to convene that important Conference was inspired by the realisation that the blight of racism continued to afflict millions of people across the world.

In its Declaration, the World Conference went to great lengths both to characterise the phenomenon of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and to elaborate a Programme of Action to combat all these.

However I believe that if an audit were to be carried out to assess what the Member States of the United Nations and civil society had done to implement the agreed Programme of Action, it would show that by and large not much was done by these to implement that Programme of Action.

This serves to emphasise the importance of adopting the suggested Codes of Conduct once the Global Charter has been approved, precisely to ensure that the commitments contained in the Charter are honoured, thus practically to strike a mighty blow against racism.

No one among us needs to be convinced about the fact that sport has a following that amounts to billions of people.

In the end Global Watch seeks to mobilise not only the sports people themselves but also these billions indeed to show a red card to racism on the sports fields.

The success of Global Watch in this regard would mean the mobilisation of these billions into a mass army for the defeat of racism not only in sport, but also in society in general. Hence the interest we all share that Global Watch should achieve its purposes.

In this regard it is important that we recall some of the observations made by the peoples of the world, gathered at the 2001 World Conference.

In its Declaration, among others, the World Conference said:

“We recognize and affirm that, at the outset of the third millennium, a global fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and all their abhorrent and evolving forms and manifestations is a matter of priority for the international community, and that this Conference offers a unique and historic opportunity for assessing and identifying all dimensions of those devastating evils of humanity with a view to their total elimination…

“We recognize the necessity for special measures or positive actions for the victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in order to promote their full integration into society. Those measures for effective action, including social measures, should aim at correcting the conditions that impair the enjoyment of rights and the
introduction of special measures to encourage equal participation of all racial and cultural, linguistic and religious groups in all sectors of society and to bring all onto an equal footing.

Those measures should include measures to achieve appropriate representation in educational institutions, housing, political parties, parliaments and employment, especially in the judiciary, police, army and other civil services, which in some cases might involve electoral reforms, land reforms and campaigns for equal participation.”

These observations remain as relevant and correct today as when they were made thirteen years ago. Together they demonstrate the enormous amount of work which must be done to root out racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, all of which continue to afflict millions of people across the globe.

Sadly, there is no shortage of examples of the stubbornness of pernicious racist ideas and practices.

As recently as early this month, the Ivorian Yaya Toure, African Footballer of the Year for the last three years, who plays for Manchester City, complained of experiencing racial abuse, a matter that is being investigated by the British police.

In this regard, among others, he said:

“For me, it’s a disgrace to be honest…We need to do something to try to tell people those kinds of behaviour have to stop. I want those people to understand what they’re doing is wrong.

“To have such aggression in sport, I can’t understand that. That’s why I’ve been trying to fight it. Football doesn’t have a colour. We’re just people from all over the world trying to enjoy the game.

“Sport is sport. Sport is not violence. Sport is not about being bad with people. Sport is about being healthy and proud of what you are doing.”

There is of course the more atrocious example of the Norwegian mass murderer, Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people on July 22, 2011.

An unrepentant racist, during his trial Breivik boasted of his credentials as a Norwegian and European nationalist, explaining that he committed mass murder of young Norwegians to stop the spread of what he called multi-culturalism. Among other things he said:

“Today Norway and many countries are suffering cultural self-hatred due to multicultural ideology… It is undemocratic that Norway accepts so many African and Asian immigrants that (the Norwegians) risk being made into a minority in their own capital…They will lose their culture, their land and traditions and Christianity.
“I and other militant nationalists are a hundred percent convinced that if we manage to stop the multicultural project in Europe, we will save hundreds of thousands of lives. Because if we wait 20, 30, 40 years, the ethnic Norwegians and Europeans will be in the minority. We therefore are not able to wait long. The motives are based on our goodness and not evil.
“The Muslim enclaves in Europe will grow as aggressively as cancer, until one day they constitute a dominant force. Our ethnic group, our culture, our Christianity, our identity . . . It is the framework for the defense…
“Since Norwegian and European multiculturalists opened the doors to immigration, about 30 million Muslims have poured into Europe. More than 90,000 of my Norwegian sisters have been raped from 1960 to the present.
“Many have been gang raped. More than 300,000 have been physically and mentally harassed, beaten and robbed by Muslims since the 1950s and ’60s.
“Multiculturalism is an anti-Norwegian and anti-European hate ideology. Multiculturalism is an evil ideology that forces itself upon us. It is not rational to flood his country with Africans and Asians, so that our culture is lost. This is the real madness. This is the real evil. Universal human rights allow ethnic Norwegians the right of self-defense. (My) attacks were preventative attacks in defense of Norwegian culture and my people. I acted from the principle of necessity on behalf of my people, my religion, my ethnicity, my city, and my country.”

Unfortunately these outrageous statements also reflect a growing racism throughout Europe.

Last year the Italian Foreign Minister, Emma Bonino, said: “In Europe we see rising intolerance; growing support for xenophobic and populist parties; discrimination…Fear and prejudice are being spread across Europe mainly by nationalistic and demagogic groups, who are exploiting the current malaise and social despair.”

Last year Eva Smith Asmussen of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance said: “In Europe, support for xenophobic parties has increased in recent elections, and they have gained seats in the government coalitions and parliaments of several countries…Governments often claim that there is no racism in their countries, but this is unfortunately often not the case. It is high time they opened their eyes and assumed responsibility for countering the intolerance manifested in bias such as anti-Gypsyism, antisemitism or Islamophobia.”

Earlier this year the Executive Director of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), Michael Privot, said racism in Europe was at its worst since the 1980s. He went on to say:

“We have to step in, we can’t let things go on like this,” he said. “We have been scared by the attitudes we see of the progressive parties. They say: ‘The far right is rising, what can we do?’. It’s too late…

“Without change in economic livelihoods and less inequality, things won’t get any better. If not we think we will face more violence and increased anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic behaviour. But we see from all political groups people are really afraid of the far-right and we hope these fears will produce good results.”

The same Network has said: “It is worrying that the public perception of immigrants, asylum seekers, Roma and other minorities in almost all countries remains very negative; this has been exacerbated by the economic crisis as evidenced in reports by Greece, Spain and Portugal, where it has become common to accuse immigrants of stealing job opportunities, working for less pay, benefiting from social services and perpetrating violent crimes.”

In one of its Reports ENAR said: “Clearly, racial and religious discrimination continue to affect the lives of many ethnic and religious minorities throughout Europe in various ways…(However) overall, anti-discrimination activists see the biggest challenge is the lack of political will of many Member States (of the EU) to invest in actions to curb racism, discrimination and related intolerance and to ensure equality and the protection of human rights for all residing in Europe.”

The African and Asian economic migrants to Europe have suffered as the worst victims of this European racism, as exemplified by the unknown numbers of those who have drowned in the Mediterranean or perished in the Sahara Desert as they tried to reach a hostile Europe.

We also see the persistence of institutionalised racial discrimination in the United States, where the African American community is condemned to experience poorer life conditions compared to its white counterpart.

For instance, the highly respected Pew Research reported in 2011 that:
“The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data from 2009.
“These lopsided wealth ratios are the largest since the government began publishing such data a quarter century ago and roughly twice the size of the ratios that had prevailed between these three groups for the two decades prior to the Great Recession that ended in 2009.
“The Pew Research analysis finds that, in percentage terms, the bursting of the housing market bubble in 2006 and the recession that followed from late 2007 to mid-2009 took a far greater toll on the wealth of minorities than whites. As a result of these declines, the typical black household had just $5,677 in wealth (assets minus debts) in 2009; the typical Hispanic household had $6,325 in wealth; and the typical white household had $113,149.”
I believe that it is not necessary for me similarly to produce any facts and figures to illustrate how far we still are from achieving the objective of the eradication of the legacy of colonialism and apartheid here in South Africa.
In its Declaration, the World Conference recognised that “the scourge of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance persists and continues to result in violations of human rights, suffering, disadvantage and violence, (and has contributed to) poverty, underdevelopment, marginalization, social exclusion, economic disparities, instability and insecurity.”

It is our shared and common responsibility, including as civil society, to join in struggle for a global human society free of all these ills.

In this context the World Conference stated that it “(recognizes) the fundamental role of civil society in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, in particular in assisting States to develop regulations and strategies, in taking measures and action against such forms of discrimination and through follow-up implementation.”

It went further to say: “We underline that civil society plays an important role in promoting the public interest, especially in combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”

The Global Watch meeting here today is an important part of the civil society to which the World Conference referred.

In its Background Note about itself, Global Watch quotes Nelson Mandela as having said:

“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does … It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers … It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination …!”

I trust that Global Watch will indeed succeed to unite the peoples of the world in a mighty movement to defeat racism in sport in particular and in society in general.

I am honoured to declare this Conference of Global Watch open.

Thank you.

Speech by Thabo Mbeki
 
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