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Closing Address by the Prime Minister of Sweden, Göran Persson
Persson, Göran

Closing address by the Prime Minister of Sweden

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear friends,

My thanks to you all.

My warmest gratitude and appreciation to all of you who have participated and contributed, and made the Stockholm International Forum: Combating Intolerance an extraordinary experience.

Seven moderators have had the inspiring, but no doubt arduous task of leading the seminars, and without them we would never have been able to bring this conference to a successful conclusion: Professor Irwin Cotler, Dr. Jaap van Donselaar, Ms. Judith Vidal-Hall, Mr. Arne Ruth, Dr. Stephen Smith, Dr. Beate Winkler and Mr. Peter Nobel. Many warm thanks to you all, and to First Secretary Jonathan Cohen for heading up the Drafting Committee.

Let us offer our thanks also to Dr. Jeffrey Kaplan, who has been the master in charge of documentation for the conference ever since the pre-seminar in October, and who will continue in that role until the CD-ROM documentation is ready. He arranged the pre-seminar on research most efficiently at a distance – all the way from Alaska.

Another person has also played an invaluable role - and also at a distance. Professor Yehuda Bauer of the Yad Vashem Institute has been with us as a supporter and special advisor, in contact with the Conference secretariat, alternating between continents, as he is on tour as a visiting professor.

Finally, I would like to thank Secretary-General Veronika Bard Bringéus and the fantastic conference secretariat who arranged and conducted this Conference so efficiently. Thanks also to all the experts, information staff, guides and guards, police officers, interpreters, musicians and staff at the Government Offices and many others who helped turn this conference into a powerful platform and source of inspiration for continued efforts in the fight against intolerance.
* * *
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, the front page of one of the leading Swedish evening papers is dominated by a photograph. The photograph of a Norwegian boy - Benjamin Hermansen.

Last Friday night Benjamin was murdered in a car-park outside a convenience store in Oslo.

Five young Norwegians have been detained. According to the Norwegian Police, the sixth person in the group suspected of this hideous crime is a Swede now wanted in Sweden. All of them are known Nazi supporters.

Benjamin was murdered because of the dark colour of his skin.

Once again a tragic event like this highlights what we so passionately seek to accomplish: to bring an end to racist violence, to intolerance in every conceivable form.
* * *
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear friends,

In these two days we have generated a lot of words, but above all we have put in many hours of hard work.

Today, I am happy to report that we have now signed the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum: Combating Intolerance.

We recall the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and all other related international conventions.

We recall the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, its commitments to plant the seeds of a better future through education and remembrance, and its pledge to fight the evils of genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, antisemitism and xenophobia.

Racism, racial discrimination, antisemitism, islamophobia, xenophobia, discrimination, violence and murder because of sexual orientation and all other forms of intolerance, violate basic human values and threaten democratic society.

All crimes against humanity, genocide such as the Holocaust, and atrocities such as slavery and apartheid serve as grim reminders of where intolerance can lead if permitted to flourish and of the absolute necessity to stop it.

In support of the preparations for the Durban World Conference, and the UNs Secretary General’s Global Compact, we the representatives of governments at the Stockholm International Forum: Combating Intolerance, condemn intolerance in all its aspects.

The Declaration contains ten articles that together form a strong recommendation for all the countries participating in this conference.

Since we have said that it is time to move from words to deeds, let me add the idea Professor Cotler presented to me yesterday.

We need to gather together the world’s best lawyers to join us in the fight against intolerance and xenophobia. We need to set up a clearinghouse for best remedies and best practices in the legal battle against antisemitism and racism.

We need Irwin Cotler and Francois Cordier and all their colleagues around the world to come together to form a Global legal team against intolerance.

Allow me, in the spirit of this Forum, sharing as we do the will to move from words to deeds, to come back with a concrete proposal in this respect.

* * *

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With a declaration indicating our common direction and giving us opportunities to continue to cooperate on a regular basis – I feel confident.

This was urgently needed.

Soon we will depart and go our separate ways. We will go home to different problems and different sets of circumstances.

No doubt, numerous tasks face us all on the domestic front.

A great number of more powerful national measures need to be taken.

* * *

Honoured participants,
Dear friends,

Combating intolerance is not the sort of assignment that readily ends up in the “out tray”.

It is one of those tasks that never end.

There will always be new generations to win over to democracy and human dignity.

There will always be new generations to pass on the most vital lesson to - that these values, no matter how fundamental, are fragile and in need of constant defence.

Never-ending tasks are easily conceived as heavy burdens.
But we don’t have to look at it that way.

Today, the burden has turned into an opportunity.

Today, our mission has turned into a common vision of responsibility.

Thank you for two important days.

I hope that some of us will meet again in Stockholm this time next year.

I will not reveal any ideas about what the theme will be.

We take the words of Elie Wiesel from last year as the natural point of departure for coming Forums - Forums “on Conscience and Humanity”.

I look forward to welcoming you back to Sweden and Stockholm.

Thank you.


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Opening Session

Plenary Sessions: Messages and Presentations

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Closing Plenary Session and Declaration

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