8 September 2001
CALL TO ERADICATE DISCRIMINATION AND INTOLERANCE MARKS CONCLUSION
OF WORLD CONFERENCE AGAINST RACISM
Agrees on Need for Remedial Measures; Urges End to Middle East Violence
DURBAN, 8 September -- The World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance ended in Durban, South Africa, today with a condemnation of those scourges and a call for action by the international community to eradicate them wherever they may be found.
After intensive and often difficult deliberations on a number of issues, the Conference adopted a Declaration and Programme of Action that commits Member States to undertake a wide range of measures to combat racism and discrimination at the international, regional and national levels. However, a number of delegations made known their reservations or disassociations on certain issues, including those relating to the Middle East and to the legacy of the past.
On the Middle East, the Conference called for the end of violence and the swift resumption of peace negotiations; respect for international human rights and humanitarian law; and respect for the principle of self-determination and the end of all suffering, thus allowing Israel and the Palestinians to resume the peace process, and to develop and prosper in security and freedom.
Expressing concern about the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation, the Conference, in its Declaration, recognized the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to the establishment of an independent state. It also recognized the right to security for all States in the region, including Israel, and called upon all States to support the peace process and bring it to an early conclusion.
On the question of slavery, the Conference agreed on text that acknowledges and profoundly regrets the massive human sufferings and the tragic plight of millions of men, women and children as a result of slavery, slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, apartheid, colonialism and genocide. Acknowledging that these were appalling tragedies in the history of humanity, the Conference further acknowledged that slavery and the slave trade are a crime against humanity and should always have been so, especially the transatlantic slave trade.
Inviting the international community to honour the memory of the victims of these tragedies, the Conference also noted that some States have taken the initiative of regretting or expressing remorse or presenting apologies, and called on all those who have not yet contributed to restoring the dignity of the victims to find appropriate ways to do so. Concerning compensation and reparations by so-called “concerned States” for slavery, the slave trade and other historical injustices, the Conference recognizes that those historical injustices have undeniably contributed to poverty, underdevelopment, marginalization, social exclusion, economic disparities, instability and insecurity that affect many people in different parts of the world, particularly in developing countries. The Conference recognized the need to develop programmes for the social and economic development of those societies and the diaspora within the framework of a new partnership based on the spirit of solidarity and mutual respect in the following areas: debt relief, poverty eradication, building or strengthening democratic institutions, promotion of foreign direct investment and market access.
The Conference, recognizing the efforts of African leaders to address the challenges of poverty, calls on developed countries, as well as the United Nations system, to support the New African Initiative and other innovative mechanisms, such as the World Solidarity Fund for the Eradication of Poverty.
On the question of victims of racism, another issue that had been difficult to resolve, the Conference agreed on a generic text which stated that “the victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are individuals or groups of individuals who are or who have been affected by or subjected to or targets of those scourges”.
Regarding the grounds for discrimination, the Conference recognized that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance occur on the grounds of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origins, and that the victims can suffer multiple or aggravated forms of discrimination based on other or related grounds, including language, sex, religion, political or other opinion, social origin, property, birth or other status.
(A summary of other key provisions of the Declaration and Programme of Action appears later in the “highlights” section of this press release.)
In her closing remarks, the President of the Conference, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, said that Durban had agreed a fresh start and a new road-map for the fight against racism. Endorsing the point that the Conference had set explicit goals and action for combating discrimination, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, who acted as Secretary-General of the Conference, said that the main message she would like to leave the delegates with was that Durban must be a beginning and not an end. “There must be follow-up”, she said.
Participating in the World Conference were 2,300 representatives from 163 countries, including 16 heads of State, 58 foreign ministers and 44 ministers. Nearly 4,000 representatives of NGOs and over 1,100 media representatives were accredited.
Programme of Action Highlights
The Conference Programme of Action discusses the sources and causes of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and calls for concrete action to eradicate them. A large part of the document is devoted to prevention, education and protection measures at the national level. It also recommends a number of measures at the international level, including the establishment of a follow-up observatory composed of five eminent persons from the various regions to work with the High Commissioner for Human Rights and United Nations bodies to help in implementation of the Declaration and Programme of Action and other tasks.
Calling on States to accede to the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, with a view to universal ratification by 2005, the programme urges them to promote the use of public and private investment to eradicate poverty in areas predominantly inhabited by victims of discrimination.
The Programme further urges States to implement policies and measures designed to prevent and eliminate discrimination on the basis of religion or belief that many people of African descent experience. The document further calls on States to ensure full and effective access to the justice system for all individuals, particularly those of African descent.
States are also urged to adopt or continue to apply all necessary measures to promote, protect and ensure the enjoyment by indigenous people of their rights; to facilitate family reunification, which has a positive effect on integration of migrants; and to take all possible measures to promote the full enjoyment by all migrants of all human rights. The document further encourages States to develop strategies to address discrimination against refugees; and to end impunity and prosecute those responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes, including crimes related to sexual and other gender-based violence against women and girls.
Among other things, States are encouraged to develop or implement effective legislation and other measures to protect migrant workers, with special attention to people engaged in domestic work and trafficked persons; to ensure accountability for misconduct by law enforcement personnel motivated by racism; to eliminate racial profiling; and to protect the privacy of genetic information.
The Programme of Action further urges States to prohibit discriminatory treatment against foreigners and migrant workers; to enact laws against trafficking in persons, especially women and children; and to compile and publish reliable statistical data to assess the situation of individuals and groups who are victims of discrimination.
Under the Programme of Action, States are also urged to enhance measures to fulfil the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, with a view to eliminating disparities in health status that might have resulted from racial discrimination.
The Programme further urges States, where appropriate, to commit financial resources to anti-racism education and media campaigns promoting tolerance and to take or strengthen measures to address root causes, such as poverty, underdevelopment and lack of equal opportunity, that make persons vulnerable to trafficking.
It calls on States taking all necessary measures to guarantee the right to freedom of expression, to encourage Internet service providers to establish and disseminate specific voluntary codes of conduct and self-regulatory measures against the dissemination of racist messages. The document also calls on States to encourage access to and use by all people of the Internet.
The document calls on States to ensure that education and training, especially teacher training, promote respect for human rights and the fight against racism; to intensify efforts in the field of education efforts to promote awareness of the causes of racism; and urges States to encourage the media to avoid stereotyping based on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
The Declaration expresses solidarity with the peoples of Africa in their continuing struggle against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. It also affirms the great importance of solidarity, respect, tolerance and multiculturalism, which constitute the moral ground and inspiration for the worldwide struggle against the inhuman tragedies that have affected people throughout the world, especially in Africa, for too long.
Noting the importance of paying special attention to new manifestations of racism, discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance to which youth and other vulnerable groups might be exposed, the Declaration recognizes that those evils are among the root causes of armed conflict and very often among its consequences. It expresses deep concern that socio-economic development is being hampered by widespread internal conflicts, including those arising from racism, discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and from lack of democratic, inclusive and participatory governance.
It also expresses concern that in some States, political and legal structures or institutions, many of them inherited and persisting today, do not correspond to the multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-lingual characteristics of the population, in many cases constituting an important factor of discrimination in the exclusion of indigenous peoples.
The Declaration states that the use of the term “indigenous peoples” is in the context of, and without prejudice to the outcome of, ongoing international negotiations on texts dealing specifically with that issue and cannot be construed as having any implications as to rights under international law.
Welcoming the decision to create the Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues and the appointment by the United Nations of a Special Rapporteur on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, the Declaration recognizes with deep concern the ongoing manifestations of racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, including violence against the Roma/Gypsies/Sinti/Travellers. It recognizes the need to develop effective policies and implementation mechanisms for their full achievement of equality.
The Declaration describes victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance as individuals or groups of individuals who are or have been negatively affected by, subjected to or targets of those scourges. It recognizes that people of African descent have for centuries been victims of racism, discrimination and enslavement and of history’s denial of their rights. It also recognizes that they, as well as Asians and people of Asian descent, face barriers as a result of social biases and discrimination.
Strongly condemning racism and discrimination against migrants and the stereotypes often applied to them, the Declaration reaffirms the responsibility of States to protect their human rights and that of governments to safeguard and protect them against illegal or violent acts perpetrated with racist or xenophobic motivation.
Noting that racism, discrimination and xenophobia contribute to forced displacement and movement of people as refugees and asylum seekers, the Declaration recognizes with concern that despite efforts to combat them, intolerance against refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons continue. It underlines the urgency of addressing the root causes of displacement, and of finding durable solutions, particularly voluntary return to countries of origin and resettlement in third countries.
It recognizes with deep concern the existence of religious intolerance against religious communities, particularly limitation of their right to practise their beliefs freely, as well as the emergence of increased negative stereotyping, hostile acts and violence against such communities because of their religious beliefs and their ethnic or so-called racial origins.
The Declaration strongly reaffirms as a pressing requirement of justice that victims of human rights violations resulting from racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance should be assured of access to justice, including legal assistance where appropriate, effective and appropriate protection and remedies, including the right to seek just and adequate reparation or satisfaction for any damage suffered.
It condemns the persistence and resurgence of neo-nazism, neo-fascism and violent nationalist ideologies based on racial or national prejudice. It also condemns political platforms and organizations based on racism; xenophobia or doctrines of racial superiority and related discrimination; legislation and practices based on racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance as incompatible with democracy and with transparent and accountable governance.
The Declaration recognizes that media should represent the diversity of a multicultural society by fighting racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. It recognizes that quality education, the elimination of illiteracy and access to free primary education for all can contribute to more inclusive societies, equity, stable and harmonious relations and friendships among nations, peoples, groups and individuals, as well as a culture of peace, fostering mutual understanding, solidarity, social justice and respect for all human rights for all.
It reiterates that the international response and policy, including financial assistance, towards refugees and displaced persons should not be based on the grounds of race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin of the refugees and displaced persons concerned.
Highlights from Conference
All participants acknowledged the symbolic significance the World Conference against Racism in post-apartheid South Africa. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan wondered in his opening address: “Who better to teach the international community to overcome racism, discrimination and intolerance than the people of South Africa?” The Conference was a test of the international community’s will to unite on a topic of central importance in people’s lives.
Welcoming participants, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa said that the many people of the world struggling against indignity and humiliation because they were not white expected the outcome of the Conference to signify a sustained global drive to help rid them of their suffering.
South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, President of the Conference, added that along with the clarion call to the rest of the world to end the evils of racism and intolerance, there should be a sustained Programme of Action that every country could implement at every level.
The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Harri Holkeri, recalled that the three International Decades to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination, the two previous World Conferences against racism and racial discrimination, and the current Year of Mobilization against Racism and Racial Discrimination had all served as tools in the fight against racism.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Secretary-General of the World Conference Mary Robinson said the journey to Durban had helped shape the thinking on identifying the victims of racism and discrimination, on the sorts of remedies that could be made available and on the best preventive measures.
In an interactive dialogue that set the stage for the opening plenary debate and the sideline negotiations that guided the work of the Conference, 15 heads of State and government debated a broad agenda to combat racism and related issues, including the Conference’s main objectives: to produce a Declaration that recognizes the damage caused by past expressions of racism; reflecting a new global awareness of modern forms of racism and xenophobia; and agreeing on a strong, practical Programme of Action.
Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, said the time had come for major decisions to correct what had happened in history; to make possible true justice, true globalization and true development for the whole world.
Fidel Castro, President of Cuba, urged all delegations to strive to be as candid, sincere and truthful as possible in order to achieve the Conference goals. “We must realize that if we do not succeed, what lies before us can only be worse than what we have left behind”, he said.
Other participants on the panel were: President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria; Jozo Krizanovic, Chair of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina; President Pedro Verona Rodrigues Pires, of Cape Verde; President Vaira Vike-Freiberga of Latvia; President Olusengun Obasanjo of Nigeria; President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal; President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda; Pascoal Manuel Mocumbi, Prime Minister of Mozambique; and Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian Authority.
The general debate opened the following morning with a videotaped speech by former South African President Nelson Mandela, who said racism was an ailment of the mind and soul, which killed many more people than some diseases, and dehumanized all those it touched. Fighting racism entailed administering holistic and comprehensive treatment.
Slavery and Reparations
One of the dominant themes throughout the week-long plenary debate was the insistence by most African countries that countries that participated in and benefited from the slave trade and the colonization of other nations acknowledge the misdeeds of the past and make reparations for them. A number of African heads of State, in addressing the issues of racism and continued discrimination, raised the need to recognize the legacy of slavery and colonialism, and pointed to the links with the poverty and economic imbalances that exist in the world today.
Many speakers blamed slavery, the slave trade and colonialism for the current underdevelopment in Africa and elsewhere, and others pointed out that precedent for compensation had been set in a number of instances, including by Germany after the First World War, to the Japanese Americans interned during the Second World War and to the victims of the Nazi Holocaust. A number of speakers suggested that the reparations did not necessarily have to come in the form of payments to individuals. Many African representatives referred to the New African Initiative, which envisions a united Africa with the assistance of targeted foreign aid. Additionally, others spoke about compensation for African descendants who were also victimized by the scourge of slavery. Cancellation of the crippling debts owed by Africa and the developing world to the industrialized nations and other measures such as support to education funds were also proposed.
Speakers stressed that the issue was not simply about money. One said basic truths were best expressed in simple words -- the transatlantic slave trade was a horrible and depraved action and was, quite clearly, a crime against humanity. A number of speakers insisted upon an apology for the suffering the colonial Powers had caused, maintaining that it was impossible to move towards a peaceful future without an acknowledgement of the past. Several European countries, notably the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, acknowledging the slave trade as an abhorrence, expressed regret.
Contemporary Forms of Intolerance
Although speakers noted progress in eradicating racism and racial discrimination, they warned that contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, although sometimes more subtle, afflicted every country in the world.
Many speakers emphasized that the growing gap between rich and poor in the era of globalization was a legacy from the era of slavery, the slave trade and colonialism. Countries that had been victim of those practices had been robbed of their natural resources and their society had been deeply affected. As poverty was a breeding ground for intolerance, speakers said, bridging the gap between rich and poor would contribute to combating those phenomena.
Another form of contemporary intolerance, as a by-product of globalization and technological innovation, was the incitement to hatred and dissemination of racist ideas on the Internet. Speakers stressed that such incitement should be prohibited.
Another issue of concern to many speakers was the unique plight of vulnerable groups and people in distress, particularly migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and internally displaced persons. Most agreed there was a need to make a special commitment to ensure the protection of the rights of those groups. With globalization virtually removing all borders and boundaries, international migration had been rendered not only feasible but inevitable. Poverty, as a cause of ethnic conflict, also caused waves of refugees and displaced persons.
Other vulnerable groups also suffered multiple forms of intolerance -- women in particular. They were discriminated against because of their gender, origin, economic, social and cultural circumstances and colour. The multiple forms of discrimination faced by AIDS victims was also emphasized by speakers.
Human Rights Education
During the debate, many speakers stressed the need for enhanced education programmes and initiatives aimed at combating prejudice and intolerance, particularly the promotion of human rights in schools. One representative said that the power of education should be harnessed as early as possible in order to instil respect for diversity and compassion in young minds. Education remained the key to the promotion of respect for the racial, ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity of societies, and for the promotion and protection of values, which were essential to prevent the spread of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. It was necessary to foster a culture of respect, starting with formal education systems.
Another common theme of the past week was indigenous peoples. It was pointed out that the United Nations investment in the world’s indigenous peoples made up one tenth of 1 per cent of its operational budget -- or roughly one cent for every indigenous family. At the same time, indigenous populations were losing their lands faster than ever because of increased development resulting from growing foreign direct investment in certain parts of the world. They regarded that as discriminatory, since they received little or no assistance from most of the countries in which they lived.
Rigoberta Menchu, a Guatemalan Nobel Prize for Peace winner, speaking in her own personal capacity, told the plenary session that indigenous people expected the Conference to be critical to the recognition of their rights, which have been denied for centuries. Other speakers noted that proposals made at the Conference to allow them the right of self-determination had been disregarded. Instead, there was language that directed them to negotiate their territorial integrity with the States in which they lay, prompting one speaker to say that only the human rights of indigenous peoples were subject to that restriction.
Middle East Situation
Many speakers, most from Arab countries, argued that the problem in the Middle East was one of racism and colonialism, denying the Palestinian people their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including their right to an independent State. Yasser Arafat, the President of the Palestinian Authority, said Palestinians were suffering under the most severe policies of oppression and racial discrimination resulting from the Israeli occupation of their land and holy places. The Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference said Israel -- based on cynicism, so-called racial superiority, the idea of chosen people and its cavalier attitude towards international legitimacy -- felt it could use brute force against unarmed civilians, assassinate Palestinian politicians, close or seal their sanctuaries and Judaize their cities.
The representative of Israel said that those who could not bring themselves to say the word “Holocaust”, would call for the condemnation of “racist practices of Zionism”. Anti-Zionism was nothing but anti-Semitism, “pure and simple”. Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium said that the long-running tragedy was primarily a territorial dispute which should not be discussed at this Conference.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and human rights advocates, from all regions of the world, had a massive presence in Durban during and prior to the Conference’s opening. Those organizations adopted an NGO Declaration and Programme of Action, which was presented to the President of the Conference. In addition, an International Youth Forum was held, which also adopted its own Declaration.
In all, 106 NGOs addressed the plenary in morning and afternoon meetings on the last three days of the Conference, with many of their representatives urging effective action on behalf of the millions of people across the globe who suffered from a wide range of discriminatory practices on a daily basis. Other civil society actors, representing women’s groups and persons with disabilities, among others, shared their personal experiences with discrimination or prejudice based on gender, sexual orientation, health status, religious belief or economic status.
Speakers from ethnic minority groups, including representatives of the African diaspora, indigenous and aboriginal peoples of the Americas, and the Roma, described their unique historical and contemporary experiences with intolerance. Representatives of Dalit groups also raised the issue of caste-based discrimination.
A number of international human rights organizations and national rights groups maintained that governments were failing in their responsibility to deal with the human rights crises that generated so much anger and frustration in civil society. The representative of Human Rights Watch urged governments to drop their denial and equivocation and turn wholeheartedly to remedying racism and all forms of intolerance. There was no substitute for action -- hope, rhetoric and apology were not enough. The Conference must be about the experience of victims, justice, government accountability and follow-up.
The Vice-Presidents of the Conference were: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Cuba, India, Iraq, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Senegal, Slovakia, Sweden and Tunisia.
Edna Maria Santos Roland (Brazil) was the Rapporteur-General of the Conference.
Claudio Moreno (Italy) was Chairman of the Main Committee. The Vice-Presidents of the Main Committee were: Alexander Slabi (Czech Republic), Hernan Couturier (Peru) and Prasad Kariyawasam (Sri Lanka). Najat Al-Hajjaji (Libya) was Rapporteur.
Ali Khorram (Iran) served as Chairperson of the Drafting Committee and John Dauth (Australia) as Vice-President/Rapporteur.
Marc Bossuyt (Belgium), chaired the Drafting Committees’ Working Group I, on the Declaration, and Bonaventure M. Bowa (Zambia) chaired Working Group II, on the Programme of Action.
The Conference Credentials Committee consisted of: Bahamas, China, Ecuador, Gabon, Ireland, Mauritius, Russian Federation, Thailand and the United States.
The PRESIDENT said that 19 delegations had requested to make statements of clarification or to register their reservations on the adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action, but that as there was not time for all of them to be heard, their statements would be fully reflected in the final report of the Conference.
EDNA MARIA SANTOS ROLAND (
), Rapporteur-General of the Conference, introducing the draft report as contained in document A/CONF.189/L.1 and Addenda 1 to 3, said she believed that in spite of the unusual challenges the Conference had faced, together with the usual difficulties to reach consensus on certain relevant issues, this Conference would stand up as a landmark, a guiding light in the struggle against the evils of racism and to construct a commonly shared future, based on the values of justice, equality and solidarity.
The Conference then decided, without a vote, to adopt the draft report, and to authorize the Rapporteur-General to complete it, in conformity with the practice of the United Nations, with a view to its submission the General Assembly at its fifty-sixth session.
The Conference further adopted, without a vote, the following decision: “The World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance requests its President to submit the report of the World Conference at its fifty-sixth session.”
The representative of
, on behalf of the African Group, said Africa had a rendezvous with history in Durban. History had been made in Durban. This great country reflected the evils of racism and the wealth of diversity. That is why it was significant that this Conference determined slavery a crime against humanity. It is a crime against humanity for always and all time. An apology and reparations were now in order. The Conference was not only a beginning, it was a process that started here in Durban, and it must continue. Millions of people around the world expect no less.
The Conference then adopted the resolutions of thanks to the South African Government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Secretary-General of the World Conference against Racism, Mary Robinson, by acclamation.
The representative of
, on behalf of the Asian Group, thanked the people of South Africa and added that the Group had been inspired by the words of President Mbeki in his inaugural address to the Conference. She praised the hard work of the President of the Conference and the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The representative of
, on behalf of the Eastern European Group, thanked the President of the Conference, the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the President and people of South Africa. He also thanked all the delegations, Secretariat staff and others that had participated in the work of the Conference.
The representative of
, on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group said that his delegation would be delivering statements on the rights of indigenous peoples at a later stage. He thanked The High Commissioner for Human Rights, President Mbeki and the people of the host country. He also praised the tireless work of the President of the Conference and all those that had participated in its work.
The representative of
, on behalf of the European Union and associated States, as well as the Western European and Others Group, welcomed the adoption of the final documents of the Conference. The Declaration and the Programme of Action were political, not legal documents. Those documents could not impose a liability on anyone, nor were they intended to do so. The European Union stressed this should not be understood as an acceptance of any liability. The very fact that this Conference had been held allowed us to consolidate many achievements. Durban gave us an opportunity to move forward in our thinking.
MARY ROBINSON, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Secretary-General of the World Conference against Racism, said she did not claim that the Conference had solved the problems of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, but there was a framework. The true measure would be whether the work done here would make a real difference in the lives of the victims of racism and discrimination. “The main message I would like to leave you with is that Durban must be a beginning and not an end. There must be follow-up”, she said.
There was now a series of concrete recommendations, she said, for national plans and programmes, for better treatment of victims, for tougher anti-discrimination legislation and administrative measures, for universal ratification and implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and other relevant international treaties, for strengthening education, for improving the remedies and recourses available to victims, and many more.
NKOSAZANA DLAMINI ZUMA, President of the Conference, said the Conference had agreed that the systems of slavery and colonialism had had a deeply degrading and deeply debilitating impact on those who were black, broadly defined. It had also agreed that slavery was a crime against humanity and that an apology was necessary, not for monetary gain, but to restore the dignity and humanity of those who had suffered. That had enabled Durban to be a fresh start and to provide a road-map to combat racism.
She said the Conference had also looked at the Middle East. It may not have been very clearly linked to the World Conference against Racism, but participants could not help but be moved by the suffering they saw every day on their television screens. It was those images of suffering Palestinian men, women and children that made all present feel that the matter needed to be discussed.
The Conference had agreed that wherever globalization went, especially in the developing South, it had created the economic refugees who had taken to fleeing the misery of poverty in their countries in search of succour and better living conditions in the rich and prosperous developed countries. Unfortunately, they those refugees had been at the receiving end sometimes of the worst form of racism and xenophobia.
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For information media - not an official record