Press Release

PM Meeting
5 September 2001


More than a dozen non-governmental organizations this afternoon addressed the plenary session of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance for the first time, urging effective action on behalf of the millions of people across the globe who suffer from a wide array of discriminatory practices on a daily basis.




INTERNATIONAL STEERING COMMITTEE: The Non-Governmental Organization Forum, held last week in Durban with more than 6,000 participants from 2,000 NGOs, marked the first time that NGOs, indigenous people, and other sectors of civil society came together to address the issues of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Although a difficult process, a Declaration and Programme of Action were adopted, both of which reflect the diverse voices of victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

The first part of the NGO Declaration, reaffirms that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and inalienable, and that all human beings are entitled to all those rights, irrespective of distinction. We recognize the richness of diversity of cultures, languages, religions and people, and the potential within that diversity to create a world free from racial discrimination, genocide, slavery, xenophobia and intolerance. Such scourges are based on ideological constructions that assign certain groups a position of political, economic or social power over others. The Declaration acknowledges the growth of aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism as expressions of racism and xenophobia. That can lead to large-scale human rights violations, discrimination and persecution of targeted groups. It also affirms the rights of indigenous peoples, and as well as the right to self-determination of all peoples, among them the Kurds, Tamils, Tibetans and Roma. In addition, the Declaration affirms the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, statehood, independence and freedom, and the right to return.



/... On the issue of Palestine, we are calling for an end to the Israeli occupation of the occupied Palestinian territories, the achievement of the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people, including the right of return and the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state. We also call for the recognition of the Dalits among victims of racial discrimination and for caste-based discrimination to be included in the list for source-based racism.


ORGANIZATION FOR DEFENDING VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE: Despite the fact that the international community is moving towards recognition of the inalienable nature of human rights and freedoms, the struggle against intolerance is still hampered by the actions and attitudes of a few nations who consistently exercise superiority over others. Even as we speak, the Palestinian people, particularly women and children, are suffering at the hands of an occupying Power. Zionism is a form of racism. We condemn the violence in the Palestinian occupied territories and call on the Conference to give that issue appropriate attention. We also call on the Conference to recognize globalization as a form of racism. Aside from the negative effects of the phenomenon, certain nations, particularly the United States, use globalization to maintain strategic dominance over others. The United States uses that dominance to wage extensive attacks on the traditional ways of life and cultural values of smaller countries. The Conference must recognize that as new and subtle form of discrimination, which manipulates social order and denies cultural diversity.


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For information media - not an official record