Press Releases

                                                                                                                28 April 2004

    Today, International Community Rejoices to See All South Africans Working Together to Forge Common Future, Secretary-General Tells Commemorative Meeting

    NEW YORK, 27 April (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks as delivered today by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the Commemorative meeting marking 10 years of democracy in South Africa:

    I am delighted to be with you on this special occasion.  This is a day that is being celebrated by millions of people far beyond the borders of South Africa.  For it’s an anniversary that gives concrete meaning to abstract concepts:  the concept of humanity, and the concept of hope.

    A decade after South Africa’s transformation into a non-racial, multi-party democracy, people around the world remember the transition from apartheid as little short of a miracle.

    What made it possible was the South African people’s determination to work together to heal the deep scars caused by racial discrimination, oppression, humiliation, denial and exploitation, and to transform their bitter experiences into the binding glue of a rainbow nation.

    When we remember the struggle against apartheid, we recall it as a struggle which galvanized the entire world community -- one that rallied people and Governments behind a common objective:  the objective of reaffirming the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms of all peoples.

    Today, the international community rejoices to see South Africans of all colours, ethnic groups and creeds, working together to forge a common future.

    We are heartened that civil society organizations are working hand in hand with the Government and the private sector to address challenges such as the harsh legacies of the apartheid regime, crime, poverty and HIV/AIDS.

    We know that young people in South Africa today are growing up in a new environment where the right to quality education is not determined by the colour of their skin; that they now live in a country where political freedom and economic well-being are accepted as inextricably linked; that they all have the chance to contribute to building a stronger, more prosperous South Africa, which can not only help its own citizens, but also lead progress throughout the wider region.

    Today, South Africa occupies a key position, and plays a strategic role, in regional and international affairs.

    South Africans have played an indispensable part in efforts to bring peace to several countries on the Continent, including Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

    They are working with their brothers and sisters in the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, and other organizations, to advance the cause of development, justice and African unity.

    And in 2001, South Africa became one the five countries that launched the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.

    Today, the entire United Nations family joins with the heroic people of South Africa as they dedicate themselves to working even harder for a brighter future.  We pledge our support in the struggle to further consolidate democratic institutions, to promote human rights, and to build an ever more successful South Africa.

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