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SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 16th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Tuesday, 23 March 2004, at 10 a.m.
Chairperson : Mr. SMITH (Australia)
(a) COMPREHENSIVE IMPLEMENTATION OF AND FOLLOW-UP TO THE DURBAN DECLARATION AND PROGRAMME OF ACTION (continued)
(a) COMPREHENSIVE IMPLEMENTATION OF AND FOLLOW-UP TO THE DURBAN DECLARATION AND PROGRAMME OF ACTION
(agenda item 6) (continued) (E/CN.4/2004/16, 17 and Add.1-3, 18 and Add.1-4, 19-21, 61, 112 and 120; E/CN.4/2004/NGO/5, 15, 16, 25, 26, 78, 101, 110, 140, 155, 186, 187, 191, 204, 225, 232, 244 and 255; A/CONF.189/PC.2/21 and Corr.1-2)
11. Ms. AGUILA (Women’s International Democratic Federation) said that racial discrimination and xenophobia had been a direct result of wars, conquests, slavery and the individual and collective exploitation of the weakest members of society by the strongest, throughout history. While the world’s very survival depended on building a fair, multicultural, diverse system, its power centres had tried to impose their value systems and had manipulated scientific advances for their own interests. The peoples of the so-called third world had been worst affected by exclusion, racism and xenophobia as they had been subjected to slavery and colonialism by the current Western powers, which had profited from those exploitative practices for centuries. In the modern world, skin colour and ethnic origin restricted people’s employment opportunities and their access to education and health care and had often led to segregation, violence and endemic poverty, with women frequently suffering from dual discrimination on the grounds of race and gender.
12. The Free Trade Agreement of the Americas was a discriminatory economic instrument that served to extend the United States’ network of military bases and satisfy its Government’s hunger for power. Under the guise of the “war on terror”, that country’s policies had become increasingly discriminatory and had strengthened racial prejudice. The illegal building of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was turning the Palestinians into prisoners and denying them access to education, health care and employment.
13. In contrast to that global reality, the Cuban revolution had resulted in real social and gender equality in education and health care, achievements that had reached into the international domain and had become an outstanding contribution to the fight against colonialism, racism and apartheid. Her organization condemned neo-liberal policies as racist and discriminatory, demanded reparation from the developed world for the victims of colonization and called for an end to racial crimes, war crimes, acts of genocide, ethnic cleansing and State terrorism perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people.
37. Mr. CLAY (December Twelfth Movement International Secretariat) ...
38. In spite of the machinations of empire and the new world order, the twenty-first century was the time to correct history and to repatriate stolen wealth to its real owners. The crimes of the transatlantic slave trade had no statute of limitations. It was time for the criminals to pay and for the damaged societies to be repaired.
39. After centuries of colonialism, the people of Zimbabwe were rebuilding their country for themselves. The ideologues who protested the loudest were the same ones who had helped to finance the African Holocaust of the past and the Palestine Holocaust of today. It was racism that condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for securing nuclear weapons for self-defence and justified the United States’ possession of such weapons. The Commission should play a legitimate and vigorous role in making the necessary changes through the implementation and strengthening of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.
40. Mr. GARAÏ (World Union for Progressive Judaism) recalled that, in its resolution 2003/4 on combating defamation of religions, the Commission noted with concern that defamation of religions was among the causes of social disharmony and led to violations of human rights of their adherents. It was such defamation that had given rise, in the middle of the previous century, to the culture of resentment and blame that had led to the extermination of 6 million Jewish people. A similar attitude was re-emerging now. Religion was all too often being used to justify acts of violence and terrorism.
41. He urged the Commission to condemn all forms of religious defamation, and particularly the incitement to kill in the name of God. He hoped that 2004 was the last year he would have to remind States that all religions and religious beliefs should be respected. Finally, he drew the Commission’s attention to document E/CN.4/2004/NGO/88, which contained a written statement by the World Union for Progressive Judaism and outlined the Spiritual Appeal of Geneva.
42. Mr. RAAD (Syrian Arab Republic), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the information provided by the Society for Threatened Peoples was unfounded and lacked credibility. The different religious and ethnic groups in Syria enjoyed peaceful coexistence and were considered to be part of the country’ ;s social fabric. Regrettably, a number of movements that did not approve of such tolerance attempted to destabilize the situation by undermining public order at events such as football matches. The authorities did not condone such attempts to incite racial hatred and to disrupt the peace.