I am pleased to address you on Human Rights Day and to participate in the launch of the International Decade for People of African Descent.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that all human beings are born free and equal, both in dignity and in rights. But while much has been achieved since the adoption of the Declaration, much remains to be done. The fight against all forms of discriminations is not only a moral imperative: it is also a prerequisite for fairness and equity. The goal of this fight is to build more resilient and peaceful societies, paving the way for long-term stability and sustainable development.
People of African Descent are among those most affected by the scourge of racism. Too often their basic rights are denied and they are the victims of discriminatory practices.
The “International Decade for People of African Descent” – with its focus on Recognition, Justice and Development – is a welcome opportunity to mobilize political commitment to the promotion of the rights of people of African descent, and to strive for concrete achievements in the field of integration. I therefore thank the South African facilitator, Ambassador Mamabolo, the African and CARICOM groups, and Brazil, for playing such a proactive role in the preparation of the Decade and its program. To unlock the potential of the Decade, it must be implemented in an effective and collaborative manner at the international, national and local levels, with the involvement of civil society and all relevant stakeholders.
To achieve results in tackling racism, xenophobia and intolerance at the international level, it is paramount to develop an inclusive, open and participatory dialogue. This was the secret to the success of other international human rights campaigns. For instance, the campaign for a moratorium on the death penalty, which was supported by a broad cross-regional coalition of which my country is honored to be part. Another example is the campaign against Female Genital Mutilations, a priority for Italy and a success for the African Group, which has assumed ownership to lead the initiative in the General Assembly. We are convinced that also in the field of countering racism, this could be a winning approach. No country can define itself “racism-free.” Through open dialogue in international fora, we will have an opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences and best practices.
While reaffirming our commitment to the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination and other international instruments, we must acknowledge that national action is crucial to eradicating racism and racial discrimination. Human rights issues should be adequately highlighted and tackled in all relevant domestic policies.
In 2001, the Durban 2001 World Conference against Racism recognized that the transatlantic slave trade was an appalling tragedy in the history of humanity. Slavery is still a problem in today’s world in the form of bonded labour, forced labour, child slavery, human trafficking, and early and forced marriages. Italy is committed to fighting every form of slavery and to protecting the rights of the most vulnerable groups. We are strongly committed to enhancing international co-operation in this regard. Italy is ready to make its contribution to ensure that the “International Decade for People of African Descent” is a success, in the broader context of the fight to eradicate all forms of discrimination worldwide.