UNITED NATIONS

Press Release



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HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL CONSIDERS ISSUES RELATED TO RACISM, RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, XENOPHOBIA AND RELATED FORMS OF INTOLERANCE


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Human Rights Council
AFTERNOON
24 March 2009


Hears Presentation of Reports of Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards, Working Group on
the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, and Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent


The Human Rights Council this afternoon considered its agenda item on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, including follow-up and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The Council heard the presentation of reports from the Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards, the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, and the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, before holding a general debate on the topic.

Idriss Jazairy, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards, said the Committee completed its inaugural session in December 2008. An oral presentation of the proceedings of the first part of the first session was made to the seventh session of the Human Rights Council. While the deliberations during the second part of the first session of the Committee were at times difficult and reflected divergent views on the different issues, the Committee eventually succeeded in completing its session in a consensual spirit by adopting a concluding text that provided a Roadmap for the elaboration of complementary international standards in the field of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. With the adoption of the Roadmap, the work of the Committee had started with considerable success. A lot remained to be done, but there was confidence that with the necessary commitment and flexibility, the Committee would continue on the road to success.

Dayan Jayatilleka, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, said racism, xenophobia and related intolerance posed a threat to national and international peace and security as they lay at the root of many conflicts, both inter-State and intra-State. Therefore it was their responsibility to work whole-heartedly towards the eradication of racism and xenophobia by fulfilling the mandate of the Intergovernmental Working Group accordingly. The Working Group had held its sixth meeting in two parts: from 11 to 22 February; and on 18 December 2008. The Working Group approved its programme of work by consensus and prepared its contribution to the Durban Review Conference. The Intergovernmental Working Group had, however, been unable to formally adopt a draft programme of work for the second part of its sixth session and to discuss the content of the draft programme of work, owing to the non-availability of full conference services.

Joe Frans, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, said during its eighth session, the Working Group had reviewed methodologies employed so as to maximize the fulfilment of the mandate which resulted in a comprehensive and ambitious work plan that covered the period 2009-2011. Further analysis was justified on the themes of the administration of justice and the right and access to housing, racism and health. New themes identified as worthy of analysis in future sessions were the dichotomy of rural versus urban and a gender-specific analysis with regard to the situation of people of African descent; poverty; social exclusion and marginalization; and culture and development and hate crimes against people of African descent. Inter and intra-cultural education, as related to people of African descent, was also identified as a subject to be addressed in a future session. The situation of children of African descent was a theme of particular relevance.

In the general debate, speakers said racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance were problems faced by all societies throughout the world. The fight against them could only be successful when fought on national, regional and international levels with the same determination. The outcome of the Durban Review Conference must provide a comprehensive protection mechanism to all victims, including those who had suffered the war on terror in terms of racio-religious profiling and its concomitant incitement to racial or religious discrimination, hatred and violence. The 2001 Durban World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance was a milestone in the struggle for equal rights among all human beings. But the world did not stop in 2001 and regrettably, since then they had witnessed a worrisome re-emergence and consolidation of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in various parts of the world. It was important to summon the necessary political will and good faith to collectively tackle issues of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Action-oriented and forward-looking conclusions and recommendations needed to be adopted with a view to tangibly contributing towards the total eradication of racism.

Some speakers also said that the Ad Hoc Committee on Elaboration of Complementary Standards should carry out its work, and devise as a matter of emergency international standards in order to fill existing gaps and provide new normative standards aimed at combating all forms of racism, including incitement to racial or religious hatred. The repeated recommendations of the Working Group on Persons of African Descent to develop a code of conduct for journalists to put an end to racial profiling in the media should be implemented. The fight against racism was a collective effort that required a long-term effort to ensure prevention, education, integration and non-discriminatory access to services. An effective system of protection against racism and racial discrimination required improving coordination among relevant human rights mechanisms. The elaboration of national plans of action and the collection of data were essential tools to help fight racism, racial discrimination and intolerance, and all Member States should cooperate in this regard. The outcome of the Review process should hold universal relevancy, giving effective guidelines to fight against racism regardless of region or ethnicity. It was truly tempting to single out the plight of certain regions and ethnicities, since their sufferings were so real and acute. However, failing to capture the universality of anti-racism in the outcome document could erode grounds for consensus and compromise its universal validity.

Speaking in the general debate on racism and racial discrimination were Czech Republic on behalf of the European Union, Cuba on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Egypt, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Indonesia, India, Yemen on behalf of the Arab Group, South Africa on behalf of the African Group, Switzerland, Qatar, brazil, Slovenia, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Malaysia, Burkina Faso, China, Russian Federation, Angola, Senegal, Nigeria, Kuwait, Turkey, Morocco, Iran, Libya, Syria, Algeria and Venezuela. The African Union took the floor, as did the German Institution for Human Rights on behalf of a number of national human rights institutions.

The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: Movement against Racism and for Friendship among Peoples, United Nations Watch, International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, North-South XXI, International Institute for Peace, International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, Defence for Children International, Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, Federación de Asociaciones de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Cercle de recherche sur les droits et les devoirs de la personne humaine, Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association (MBOSCUDA), Indian Council of South America, Amnesty International, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, Centre for Inquiry International, December Twelfth Movement International Secretariat, in a joint statement with World Organization against Torture, Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”, and Arab Commission for Human Rights.

When the Council resumes its work at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 25 March, it will hear the presentation of reports by the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights under its agenda item on the annual report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General, after which it will hold a general debate on this agenda item. The Council will then hear a presentation from the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, under its technical assistance and capacity-building agenda item, and will then hold a general debate on this item. The Council will start taking action on draft resolutions and decisions later in the afternoon.


Documents on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Intolerance

The report of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent on its eighth session (Geneva, 12 January-16 January 2009) by the Chairperson-Rapporteur, Joe Frans (A/HRC/10/66), reports that, at that session, the Working Group reviewed the themes that it had discussed in previous sessions in order to identify gaps and topics that deserve revisiting. It also identified new themes that it will include in future sessions, all with a view to developing its work plan for the period 2009-2011. Similarly, it discussed the subjects of country visits by the Working Group and its continued engagement with the Durban Review process. It also held a thematic discussion on the situation of children of African descent.

The report of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action on its sixth session by its Chairman-Rapporteur, Dayan Jayatilleka (A/HRC/10/87) includes a narrative of the meetings of the Working Group’s sixth session, which was held in two parts, from 11 to 22 February 2008 and one on 18 December 2008, including the contribution of the Working Group to the Durban Review Conference.

The report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the elaboration of complementary standards on its first session (A/HRC/10/88) is not available.


Presentation of Reports

IDRISS JAZAIRY, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards, said the Committee completed its inaugural session in December 2008. An oral presentation of the proceedings of the first part of the first session was made to the seventh session of the Human Rights Council. The first part devoted two days to review all contributions and studies referred to in Human Rights Council resolution 6/21, and considered the study by the five experts entitled "Report on the study by the five experts on the content and scope of substantive gaps in the existing international instruments to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance", and the study by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial discrimination entitled "Study by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial discrimination on possible measures to strengthen implementation through optional recommendations or the update of its monitoring procedures". At the conclusion of the first part of the session, the Chairperson requested that concrete proposals be submitted by interested delegations on possible areas requiring attention with regard to the issue of complementary standards, however, during the interim period, he received no concrete proposals from delegations, compelling him to introduce a non-paper whose objective was to facilitate and orient discussions at the resumed session.

While the deliberations during the second part of the first session of the Committee were at times difficult and reflected divergent views on the different issues, the Committee eventually succeeded in completing its session in a consensual spirit by adopting a concluding text that provided a Roadmap for the elaboration of complementary international standards in the field of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, which stated that "the ultimate goal of the work of the Committee on the elaboration of complementary standards was to prepare complementary international standards (..), the scope, form and nature of the complementary international standards could vary according to the gap to be filled."

According to this Roadmap agreed upon by Member States, the Chair was expected to proceed by, among other things, soliciting contributions from Member States, compiling, integrating and structuring all contributions received, consulting Member States on the outcome of this, and ascertaining that this outcome be submitted to Member States as the basis for the work of the second session of the Committee. With the adoption of the Roadmap, the work of the Committee had started with considerable success, and hoped to continue in this spirit, and under the guidance of the Human Rights Council, to fully implement, as a matter of necessity and priority, the mandate that had been entrusted to it. A lot remained to be done, but there was confidence that with the necessary commitment and flexibility, the Committee would continue on the road to success.

DAYAN JAYATILLEKA, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, presenting the report of the Working Group on its sixth session, began by observing that racism, xenophobia and related intolerance posed a threat to national and international peace and security as they lay at the root of many conflicts, both inter-State and intra-State. Therefore it was their responsibility to work whole-heartedly towards the eradication of racism and xenophobia by fulfilling the mandate of the Intergovernmental Working Group accordingly. He was committed to ensuring that the rules established under the mandate were fulfilled effectively.

The Working Group had held its sixth meeting in two parts: from 11 to 22 February; and on 18 December 2008. At the first meeting the Working Group had elected the new Chairperson and adopted its agenda. The session of the Working Group included discussion on its programme of work, in which Slovenia, on behalf of the European Union, had suggested that the Group adjourn its session until the conclusion of the Preparatory Committee for the Durban Review Conference, but that position had not been supported by other delegates, who held that the Working Group had to carry on with its work as per the amended mandate. Thereafter, the Working Group approved its programme of work by consensus and resumed its session. It prepared its contribution to the Durban Review Conference. The Intergovernmental Working Group had, however, been unable to formally adopt a draft programme of work for the second part of its sixth session and to discuss the content of the draft programme of work, owing to the non-availability of full conference services. The Working Group therefore adopted the draft report of its sixth session ad referendum on the conclusion of its sixth session on 18 December.

JOE FRANS, Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, said during its eighth session, the Working Group welcomed four new members. The Working Group reviewed methodologies employed by the Working Group so as to maximize the fulfilment of the mandate which resulted in a comprehensive and ambitious work plan that covered the period 2009-2011. Further analysis was justified on the themes of the administration of justice, the right and access to housing and racism and health. New themes identified as worthy of analysis in future sessions were the dichotomy of rural versus urban and a gender-specific analysis with regard to the situation of people of African descent; poverty; social exclusion and marginalization; and culture and development and hate crimes against people of African descent. Inter and intra-cultural education, as related to people of African descent, was also identified as a subject to be addressed in a future session.

The situation of children of African descent was a theme of particular relevance, said Mr. Frans. The Working Group invited expert panellists to assist the examination by making presentations on specific aspects of the broader theme. The sub-themes addressed with regard to children of African descent were violence, human rights mechanisms, access to education and access to health care. During the discussion it was noted that Afro-descendent communities lived in high-risk conditions and the violence against children in those communities was generally both wider and deeper. In recent decades some extreme forms of violence against children, including sexual exploitation and trafficking, female genital mutilation, the worst forms of child labour and the impact of armed conflict had provoked wide international condemnation. Violence committed against children was underreported and the phenomenon invisibalized. Major concerns identified during the discussion were the disproportionate rate of expulsion and suspension from school and relegation to special programmes for emotionally disturbed children; corporal punishment administered with greater severity; the large number placed under institutional care or detention centres charged with minor or petty crimes; and those sentenced to the death penalty and life imprisonment.

Many different human rights mechanisms noted the particular vulnerability of children of African descent. As such, an important step towards addressing this vulnerability was the full implementation of the recommendations contained within the United Nations study on violence against children. In the discussion of this sub-theme, as in others, the need for disaggregated data was emphasized, stressed Mr. Frans. Although there may had been reluctance or difficulty on the part of some States to collect data disaggregated by race, the importance of such information to the formulation and implementation of successful policies to address the problems faced by people of African descent, as well as other racial groups, could not be overstated. The right, and access, to education for children of African descent was not only fundamental in its own right but was also pivotal to the enjoyment of a host of other rights. The fundamental importance of literacy to accessing education and thus unlocking other rights was also noted during the discussion. Moreover, the necessity of the comprehensive implementation by States of the Convention on the Rights of the Child was underlined as key to addressing the myriad challenges faced by children of African descent.

General Debate on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Intolerance

VERONIKA STROMSIKOVA, (Czech Republic), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance were problems faced by all societies throughout the world. No continent was spared this phenomenon, and the fight against them could only be successful when fought on national, regional and international levels with the same determination. All States must assume responsibility to tackle these problems. Universal adherence and full implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination was of paramount importance. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action constituted a solid foundation for the fight against racism, racial discrimination xenophobia and related intolerance. The preparation for the Durban Review Conference had now entered its decisive phase. The European Union looked forward to rapid and prompt progress on key areas that would enable the international community to deliver a strong and united message at the Durban Review Conference.

RESFEL PINO (Cuba), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Non-Aligned Movement had historically maintained a clear and unequivocal principled position against all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The 2001 Durban World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance was a milestone in the struggle for equal rights among all human beings. The effective implementation of the Durban agreements was not only essential in the fight against racism; it was also a debt owed to millions of victims of these abominable practices through history. But the world did not stop in 2001 and regrettably, since then they had witnessed a worrisome re-emergence and consolidation of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in various parts of the world. They had come a long way in the preparatory process of the Durban Review Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement remained firmly committed to the success of the Conference and to the achievement of a positive outcome.

HEBA MOSTAFA (Egypt) welcomed the efforts currently being exerted to ensure the success of the Durban Review Conference due to be held from 20 to 24 April. The issuance by the Chairman of the Inter-Sessional Working Group of a revised and shortened text on 17 March represented a positive development and the new streamlined text represented in Egypt’s view a good basis for the final stage of negotiations and a good step forward in the direction of ensuring a consensual outcome of the upcoming Review Conference. Egypt called on all sides to reaffirm the collective commitment to the full and effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action as the cornerstone of all international efforts to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, alongside the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

MARGHOOB SALEEM BUTT, (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said the Organization of the Islamic Conference attached the highest importance to the subject of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and its States were actively engaged in the 2001 World Conference against Racism and its outcome document, based on the determination that the menace of racism in all its forms and manifestations ran counter to the fundamental values of peace, equality, justice and universal brotherhood. The outcome of the Durban Review Conference must provide a comprehensive protection mechanism to all victims, including those who had suffered the war on terror in terms of racio-religious profiling and its concomitant incitement to racial or religious discrimination, hatred and violence. The Organization of the Islamic Conference welcomed the successful holding of the second session of the Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards. The single aim of addressing the plight of the victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance should guide the deliberations of this exercise, without preconditions and red or bottom lines.

GUSTI AGUNG WESAKA PUJA (Indonesia) said that in 2001 the Durban World Conference had held the promise of a world free from racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action had created a comprehensive global framework that called among others for the adoption of more effective anti-discrimination laws and policies. Unfortunately, 9/11 and other events in the past eight years had triggered a resurgence of these scourges in many forms and in many parts of the world. The persistent trend, therefore, must be combated with renewed vigour in order that the resolve of 2001 was revitalized and translated into practical action on the ground. In this regard, from the very beginning, Indonesia had recognized the importance of the Review Conference and of its outcome in achieving a world free from prejudice. The Review Conference gave an opportunity for countries to demonstrate their determination to fight intolerance by moving the anti-racism agenda forward.

ACHAMKULANGARE GOPINATHAN (India) said that the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance was a milestone in the struggle against the worst forms of inequality and non-discrimination. The Durban Review Conference offered the opportunity to assess the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, to identify gaps and deficits in implementation, and to agree upon policies and measures to further advance the implementation of the outcome of the 2001 Conference. It was therefore welcomed. This was particularly so, as the manifestations of some forms of racial intolerance and xenophobia had become more pronounced in the period since Durban 2001.

India expressed its appreciation to the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Inter-Sessional Working Group for his dedication, perseverance and tireless efforts in preparing the new text of the draft outcome document. India believed that the new draft provided a very good basis for advancing the negotiations and achieving a balanced outcome. India expressed its readiness to work with other delegations constructively towards an outcome that commanded the broadest possible support of the general membership of the United Nations.

IBRAHIM SAIED MOHAMED AL-ADOOFI (Yemen), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said regarding the Working Group on the effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action, it should continue its work according to its mandate, bearing in mind the conclusions and recommendations of the previous sessions. All should work with a strong sense of responsibility to ensure the success of the Durban Review Conference, which should be based on the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action, whilst taking into account contemporary forms of racism which had emerged since 2001. The Ad Hoc Committee on Elaboration of Complementary Standards should carry out its work, and devise as a matter of emergency international standards in order to fill existing gaps and provide new normative standards aimed at combating all forms of racism, including incitement to racial or religious hatred. The repeated recommendations of the Working Group on Persons of African Descent to develop a code of conduct for journalists to put an end to racial profiling in the media should be implemented.

GLAUDINE J. MTSHALI, (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the African Group welcomed the convening of the second part of the Sixth Session of the Inter-Governmental Working Group, and it was the African Group's view that despite challenging circumstances, some progress had been made in terms of dealing with the thematic areas identified by the Working Group. The African Group reiterated the importance of summoning the necessary political will and good faith in collectively tackling issues of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Those action-oriented and forward-looking conclusions and recommendations needed to be adopted by the mechanism, with a view to tangibly contributing towards the total eradication of racism. The holding of the second part of the first session of the Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Standards was marked by many challenging and interesting debates. The African Group was concerned by the lack of progress since 2001 in the implementation of the Durban Programme of Action. It was unfortunate that despite the gains made during 2001 with the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action, there was still a lot of denial of the challenges related to the scourges of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, particularly their contemporary forms and manifestations.

JURG LAUBER (Switzerland) said Switzerland was committed to the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance associated with it. That was why Switzerland had never flagged in its active involvement in the Durban Review Conference. The spirit of cooperation and willingness of consensus expressed by many States in the fight against racism was also important to be noted, and Switzerland encouraged all States to join in those efforts, everyone needed to fight against racism and intolerance, while ensuring freedoms. In the course of the Durban Review Conference, discussions were long and difficult and this reflected the importance of issues on the table. The fight against racism was a collective effort that required a long-term effort to ensure prevention, education, integration, and non-discriminatory access to health services, but also the guarantee of equal opportunities in the work place which addressed multiple areas of discrimination, protection of minorities, to name only a few areas which had been discussed last year.

This progress was not possible without the commitment and willingness to compromise on behalf of many delegations in the work put forth. While the Conference would start soon, all efforts must be put towards the preparatory process. It was hoped that all delegations would cooperate in that spirit, to that objective and to that end. All could live up to those expectations and should.

KHALID FAHAD AL-HAJRI (Qatar) said that their meeting coincided with Qatar’s national day on the elimination of racial discrimination. The world was still faced a worrying trend and a rise in discrimination, particularly against Arabs and Muslims. Qatar was convinced that dialogue would uproot all conflicts that threatened world peace. Dialogue had to bring together different religions and beliefs. With regard to the preparation for the Durban Review Conference, Qatar thanked the Chairperson for the draft resolution. It was Qatar’s hope that all efforts would be used in order to ensure the success of the Conference. Qatar urged all States to stand shoulder to shoulder in the fight against discrimination.

MARIA NAZARETH FARANI AZEVEDO (Brazil) said as the international community moved into the final preparations for the Durban Review Conference, Brazil wished to reiterate the central importance it had always attached to the Durban process. Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance were scourges that affected each and every society. There were enormous challenges ahead. Poverty and social exclusion were major challenges. The fight against racism and discrimination required a great deal of perseverance. All were committed to the elimination of racism. Nevertheless, societies were still plagued by discrimination against people of African descent, indigenous peoples, women, migrants, and many other groups. True democracy was incompatible with discrimination. Recent positive developments in the Durban Review Process gave rise to genuine hope that the international community would not fail to respond to the needs of millions of victims worldwide. An effective system of protection against racism and racial discrimination required improving coordination among relevant human rights mechanisms. The elaboration of national plans of action and the collection of data were essential tools to help fight racism, racial discrimination and intolerance, and all Member States should cooperate in this regard.

ANTON PINTER (Slovenia) drew the Council’s attention to the joint statement of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for the Democratic Institution and Human Rights, the Council of Europe’ European Commission against Racism and Intolerance and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, issued on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, on 21 March 2009, to which Slovenia fully subscribed. In this statement they called on Governments, international organizations and civil society to intensify efforts in addressing racism and xenophobia. In this statement the organizations warned that “Europe’s history demonstrated how economic depression could tragically lead to increasing social exclusion and persecution”. Slovenia was convinced that this warning held good for the entire world.

WIE-YOUNG HA (Republic of Korea), said that in April there would be a comprehensive review of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. Intensive discussions on the draft outcome document were ongoing. The outcome of the Review process should hold universal relevancy, giving effective guidelines to fight against racism regardless of region or ethnicity. It was truly tempting to single out the plight of certain regions and ethnicities, since their sufferings were so real and acute. However, failing to capture the universality of anti-racism in the outcome document could erode grounds for consensus and compromise its universal validity. In this regard, the Republic of Korea noted that the updated draft text of the outcome document had achieved some progress.

The ongoing discussions should turn into tangible progress in eliminating racial discrimination in each and every country. The Republic of Korea was of the view that in order for this to happen the enhancement of efficacy of existing national and international instruments was necessary. Furthermore, one could not be prudent enough in putting additional restrictions on the freedom of expression beyond what was stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

IVANA KASAROVA (Slovakia) said the persistence of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance was a very sad fact. There was no country in the world that had completely succeeded in fighting against these phenomena. It should however not lead to a pessimistic lethargy, but on the contrary, encourage the international community to intensify its efforts to prevent their rise, with an ultimate goal of eradication. Even if the primary responsibility lay within States, the international community should not stand aside. The review of implementation of the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action was a global project, and a challenging task. There had been a rise in the number of United Nations mechanisms related to racism and racial discrimination over the last years, and the Durban Review Conference was a good opportunity to look at them critically and identify overlapping and duplication. The Durban Review Conference was also supposed to serve as a forum where best practices would be presented and shared. Slovakia hoped that the new draft of the Durban Review Conference outcome document would be a good stimulus for further constructive deliberations - the new text was going in the right direction, and it was hoped that the discussion based thereon would finally lead the international community to a meaningful and successful event.

ABDUL RAZAK JOHAN ARIFF (Malaysia) expressed Malaysia’s hope for a mutually agreeable and consensus outcome for the upcoming Durban Review Conference. Malaysia reaffirmed its commitment to work constructively with all delegations with a view to ensuring such an outcome. In Malaysia’s view, a consensus outcome document which not only reaffirmed the important principles enshrined in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action of 2001 but also contained action oriented language, would serve as an indispensable guide to the international community’s efforts in combating the insidious menace of racism. Malaysia had been unfortunate enough to experience the ugly and deadly side of racism which culminated in the race riots of 1969 resulting in massive loss of lives and destruction of property. The project of nation building aimed at eradication of distinctions on the basis of race, gender, religious and other grounds remained a constant preoccupation of the Government.

SABINE KANZIE BAKYONO (Burkina Faso) said today once again the daily life of numberless human beings throughout the world reminded the Council of the suffering which they experienced in silence linked to racism and xenophobia. Burkina Faso restated the absolute importance of all the international instruments to fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, and urged all to fight against this scourge facing humanity. Burkina Faso undertook the adoption of legislative measures with a view to outlaw all forms of discrimination. In addition, the Government developed a national strategy which was to be adopted over the next few days, and aimed to build a society emphasizing human safety which was the precondition to human development. Burkina Faso welcomed the efforts of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the personal commitment made by the High Commissioner herself to the Durban Review Conference. Moreover, it was necessary that appropriate resources be allocated and made available to ensure a successful outcome was achieved.

SHAOHUA HE (China) said since the Durban Conference in 2001, progress had been made on eliminating racism, but new forms had emerged and old forms had not been eradicated. Religious hatred was growing, and racial discrimination and xenophobia were continuing. The international community must promote the realisation of the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action as an important part of combating racism. Everybody should show the necessary political will and unity to prevent racism, and the dialogue among cultures should ensure harmony between the different racial groups. The United Nations had various mechanisms on racism including Working Groups, Committees, and a Special Rapporteur. These should continue in the future to fight racism. In this context, the Durban Review Conference provided the international community with an opportunity for the future, to promote human rights, eliminate differences, promote solidarity, encourage effective participation, and take effective measures against racism.

ALEXEY GOLTYAEV (Russian Federation) thanked the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent and the Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action for the presentation of their reports. The Russian Federation believed that in working on a subject such as the elimination of racism, the international community should join efforts. The Durban Review Conference gave an opportunity to have a fresh look at how synergies could be used best in order to achieve good results. The preparatory process as well as the Conference itself depended on a collective effort. Regarding recent forms of racism, the Russian Federation said that if history was rewritten or covered, racism could never be eliminated. Such actions led to even more odious forms of racism. But it also could not be defeated overnight, States had to fight it on a daily basis and the Russian Federation called on all States to do so.

ARCANJO DO NASCIMENTO (Angola) said it was useful to recall in a visible and strong manner that racism and discrimination was the daily life of millions of men, women and children around the world and that the battle against racism and xenophobia remained a global challenge. Consequently many had strong expectations for the next Durban Review Conference. New forms of racism especially affecting minorities, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers had emerged due to globalization, multi-ethnic societies, the fight against terrorism, political speeches, the excuse based on freedom of expression and opinion, not to mention racist thinking which also stemmed from anti-Semitism, Christianophobia and Islamophobia constituting a threat to existing values of human rights. Not only were such incidents on the rise, but history also revealed that consequently they manifested in terrible outbreaks of ethnic cleansing, genocide and other crimes against humanity.

ABDOUL WAHAB HAIDARA (Senegal) said with less than a month to go to the Durban Review Conference, it was heartening to know that there was a great upsurge in support for the process. Since the publication of the new draft of the outcome document, there had been an upswelling and a message of optimism for the new work. The Chair of the Working Group deserved congratulations and thanks, as did all delegations that had participated in dialogue and negotiation. All possible should be done to expand and build on what had been achieved in order to attain a consensus outcome showing the collective ability to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. It was in this spirit the Senegal would participate in the work, and would make its contribution to any initiatives that would ensure that the outcome of the Durban Review Conference was that which all awaited.

IFEANYI NWOSY (Nigeria) said that Nigeria was firmly committed to the Durban Declaration and the Programme of Action and attached great importance to the work of all the processes in pursuance of Nigeria’s commitment to the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action with a view to eliminating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Nigeria believed that gaps in the existing international instruments to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance should be bridged through a number of measures, including firm commitment of political will of all countries to support implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and relevant international instruments; strengthening of the existing mechanism to better perform the functions assigned by the Human Rights Council; provision of support and technical assistance to states, as appropriate; and close cooperation between national human rights institutions and relevant stakeholders.

MALEK AL WAZZAN (Kuwait) said Kuwait totally supported the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, which was adopted in 2001, aiming to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance. Kuwait hailed the contribution made by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to implement the Durban Programme of Action. Kuwait spared no efforts to implement the measures of moderation and tolerance in the country. Kuwait welcomed the efforts being made by the Chairperson, Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, and wished her all the success in her work. It was vital to preserve the spirit of cooperation within the international community. Kuwait responded to call made by the High Commissioner by allocating $ 100,000 to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and agreed that efforts needed to be stepped up in order to achieve the objectives and to ensure the success of the final document.

ALI ONANER (Turkey) said that racism, in all its forms, continued to hamper the exercise of most fundamental human rights and freedoms. It was a common responsibility to review and ensure the effectiveness of the instruments at their disposal. The 2001 World Conference had been a milestone in the global fight against racism. Its outcome, the Durban Declaration, had served as a basis in the elaboration of policies against racism all over the world.

During the preparatory process of the upcoming Review Conference, their consensual approaches had enabled them to agree on the objectives of the Review Conference. Turkey expected this constructive spirit to prevail during the Review Conference. In their final efforts to improve the current draft document, they should remain committed to the principle of not reopening or renegotiating the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said that the fight against racism and all its forms must continue. The Durban Conference in 2001 had been a watershed and laid the foundation for the global fight against racism. Morocco had a look at the final draft of the Review Conference and believed that it was an excellent basis for negotiations. Morocco would take a very active part in the negotiations, as it had done in the past, in the spirit of compromise and collaboration. Morocco also paid tribute to the High Commissioner, both on the organization and a substantive level, and the added value she provided to the preparatory process to the Review Conference.

MESBAH ANSARI DOGAHEH (Iran) welcomed the ongoing process of the Durban Review Conference, marking the preparatory process which Iran trusted would culminate in enhancing global efforts to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance. The world today witnessed racism, racist and xenophobic acts and crimes against migrants, refugees, indigenous people and asylum seeker, defamation of religions, religious intolerance, racial profiling and the intellectual legitimisation of racism.

This form of racism was disseminated in large proportion in the media, including the Internet, and encouraged by some policies, it targeted vulnerable social groups such as aboriginal, immigrants, non-nationals, ethnic and religious minorities, just because of their differences. The failures in the struggle against racism, inter alia, the contemporary forms of racism had led to persisting manifestations of racism and intolerance including racial and religious profiling and the rise in Islamophobic incidents in the world. Iran had contributed $ 40,000 to the Durban Review Conference for facilitating the realization of a better participative conference by all stakeholders.

ADEL SHALTUT (Libya) said that the upcoming Durban Review Conference was eagerly awaited by all people of the world. Just days ago the world had remembered the Apartheid era. The world was now facing another challenge and the people of the world were awaiting the results of the Review Conference. Libya had been proud of chairing the preparatory working group. Libya welcomed the progress achieved, and the efforts made by the Russian presidency. The scourge of racism and xenophobia had not been eliminated yet. Some were turning a blind eye to the worst kind of crimes that affected innocent women and children.

ABDULMONEM ANNAN (Syria) said that the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was a landmark in the struggle against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. That was why Syria was convinced of the need for everyone to pull together for the follow-up. Foreign occupation seriously increased the risk of racism, said the report of the High Commissioner. Syria confirmed the importance of putting an end to discrimination. As to racial profiling in the media, Syria supported the legitimate position of the Arab countries.

BOUALEM CHEBIHI (Algeria) said the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was necessary to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance. Work had been done on the effectiveness of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action which was vital. It was also important for the recommendations and conclusions to be relevant. The roadmap gave a specific framework for specific work to ensure the success of the Committee’s mandate. The Review Conference and must tackle racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance and their contemporary manifestations. The work of the Inter-Sessional Working Group was welcomed. The necessary political will and constructive cooperation was necessary for the successful outcome of the Review Conference.

YAKDHAN EL HABIB (African Union) said that there were only a few days left before the Durban Review Conference. Eight years after the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, there were currently more incidents of racism, xenophobia and related intolerances than back then. Very little progress had been implemented. The world had also seen an increase in intolerance in the political arena. The main objective of the Durban Review Conference was the implementation of the Durban Declaration and putting up a Plan of Action.

The African Union thought that the Review Conference should be a place to evaluate the implementation of the programme of action and to adopt plans for the future. It was important to ensure that the Review Conference came out with initiatives that could be implemented.

MARIA AUXILIADORA GUILARTE (Venezuela) thanked the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, the Ad Hoc Committee on Complementary Norms and the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Programme of Action for the presentation of their reports. These mechanisms presented an important amount of work in the context of the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, in compliance with their respective mandate. Venezuela restated its support in respect of the development of these mandates. All States had to act effectively with all political will in order to achieve the goals of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

PETRA FOLLMAR-OTTO, of International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions, speaking on behalf of a number of national human rights institutions, said national human rights institutions committed themselves to taking an active role in the implementation of the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. Their work was carried out with a purpose of maintaining the indivisibility of human rights and avoiding a fragmentation of the anti-racist agenda. They were convinced that there was a need for a comprehensive approach in the fight against racism that took into account the manifold manifestations of racism in the past and present, such as anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, other forms of discrimination based on religious grounds, anti-Zionism, apartheid, racially and culturally motivated genocides, ethnic cleansing, colonialism, slavery and slave trade, contempt of indigenous peoples and their cultures, discrimination against migrants and refugees, discrimination against ethnic minorities as well as discrimination based on descent.

GIANFRANCO FATTORINI, of Movement against Racism and for Friendship among Peoples, welcomed the most recent version of the draft declaration of the Durban Review Conference. Whilst boycotting the conference could constitute an effective tool during the negotiations, the actual non-participation could be seen as a lack of political will to fight racism and discrimination. They thus called on all States to participate in the Review Conference. A few improvements could however be made to the text. It was important to look at the consequences and heritage of the past. Also, given the various forms of racism used against migrants, States should make commitments in the text to join the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

HILLEL NEUER, of United Nations Watch, said that racism was evil. How could the international community fight it? A few myths had to be corrected. One myth was that the Durban Review Conference meant dialogue. But going to the Conference meant endorsing one particular text. The other myth was that Durban II would help millions. But could anyone recall any victim that was helped by the 2001 Conference? To truly fight racism, they had to hold perpetrators to account. Cleary, Durban II did the opposite.

MICHAEL ELLMAN, of International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, said the importance of a successful outcome of the Durban Review Conference to promote a continuous improvement of the fight against all forms of discrimination could not be underestimated. No country was immune from criticism in this area - the Conference would thus require a frank and humble analysis by each State of their own performance. The condemnation of the rise of the number of incidents of racial or religious hatred and violence was important, and the text should recognise the right of individuals to criticise, caricature or ridicule religions, provided that their criticisms did not incite to hatred, discrimination and violence against individuals or groups belonging to these religions.

LILY AUROVILLIAN, of North-South XXI, said that the Jewish philosopher Abraham J. Heschel had once stated that racism was man’s gravest threat to man, the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason. North-South XXI could not understand how any reasonable Government or civil society partner could refuse to participate in the Durban Review Conference. To refuse to discuss the international community’s action against racism was an expression of racism itself. They urged Governments to encourage the process to be as inclusive as possible. How could any state or non-governmental organization object to the Declaration, if they were really committed to the struggle against racism?

STEPHAN CICCOLI, of International Institute for Peace, said that racial discrimination was a characteristic of systems that were not based on democracy. Human beings had a deep desire for dignity. Eradication of discrimination was a slow process which needed education coupled with the right policies. Despite the scientific development of which mankind was so proud, non-scientific arguments that lay at the roots of discrimination were encouraged by Governments like that of Pakistan.

Mr. A.S. NARANG, of International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, said the principles of equality and non-discrimination were the fundamental principles of the United Nations, and they should be realised by Member States subscribing to the Charter without distinction according to race, gender, religion, colour, political opinion, property, birth or other status. The plight of Dalits was one side of discrimination which posed a challenge to human rights in India. Caste was the basis of an asymmetrical relationship between people. The movements against this now concentrated in awareness-raising including income-generating aspects and a developmental perspective. Many problems remained which posed a challenge - even the most vibrant democracy could not change traditional mindsets, but a vibrant civil society could help to remove this phenomenon from its very roots.

LAETITIA VAN HAREN, of Defence For Children International, expressed their appreciation to the Working Group on People of African Descent for electing to focus its most recent session on the situation of children of African descent, as well as the Group’s willingness to involve members of civil society in its expert panel. The Working Group’s report raised key recommendations for promoting and protecting the rights of children of African descent. They urged the Working Group to continue systematically examining the rights of the child in its future reports. Children of African descent were vastly over-represented as victims of murder and other forms of extreme violence, Defence for Children International underscored.

BIRO DIAWARA, of Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l'homme, said that the map of the world was being redrawn with successive crises that led to social division, exclusion and unemployment. The territories of men were not only physical or geographical. There were also territories of the mind. It was in these territories, on all continents, that dignity was found. It was also on these territories that peace and the fate of nations took place and tolerance and respect were found. Why had thousands of women, men and children had to suffer and undergo humiliation because of their colour, religion or ethnicity? The adoption of a new strategy of durable action at the Conference had to contribute to the promotion of the dialogue between cultures and civilisations, tolerance and respect for common values.

MAJID TRAMBOO, of International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, said racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance constituted a negation of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. Unfortunately, the reality was that racism and Islamophobia continued even today and a global fight was necessary if there was to be headway in dealing with these issues as a matter of priority for the international community. The Durban Declaration and Plan of Action were instruments for the international community to take a holistic approach, strengthening and enhancing practical measures at the national, international and regional level. India needed to follow the Durban Declaration in both letter and spirit.

DAVID FERNANDEZ, of Federación de Asociaciones de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, said that in recent years, dramatic events of racism and xenophobia had increased. It was a refusal to recognize difference. It was an identity crisis that developed on one’s need to preserve one’s identity. The Human Rights Council should remind Member States that they should remain aware of the link between democracy and building a multicultural society.

XAVIER CORNUT, of International Humanist and Ethical Union, asked the Council to act against the barbaric practice known as trokosi. Since the early 1990s, this phenomenon had begun to attract the attention of human rights defenders throughout the world, but it still remained a largely unknown crime. In Benin, Togo and Ghana, very young girls from five to ten years old were sold by their families to become shrine slaves. Young vestal virgins become trokosi, meaning wives of god. Abandoned to their fate for years, sometimes for life, they had no access to schooling or a decent standard of living. When one girl died, she was replaced by another member of their family. These shrines slaves were sexually abused, regularly beaten and subjected to forced labour in what some had described as a slave cult. The Human Rights Council should take steps to combat this practice.

BELL HILAIRE, of Cercle de recherche sur les droits et les devoirs de la personne humaine, said that they stood in solidarity with the victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The holding of the Review Conference was evidence of the international community's commitment to combat these shameful phenomena. The fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, based on a human rights approach, had shown its limits and weaknesses, and the Council should work to promote human duties - values that could encourage people to change their behaviour, accept differences, and work side-by-side and hand-in-hand. Hatred was pointless and got you nowhere. There should be solidarity with the weakest members of society, and fraternity and merit-based competence should be promoted, along with the values of moderation and cooperation.

BENNETT GRAHAM, of Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said that this agenda item was an important one. Despite the dreams of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, racism was still prevalent nowadays. In his opinion, combating the defamation of religion should not be dealt with under this agenda item but rather under agenda item 3 on the promotion and protection of all human rights. One had to recognize the difference between the two topics; racism was simply something that could not be changed, like skin colour. Religion however was something that was based on a choice and religions would continue to evolve over time. No matter what Governments might say, they could not force someone to believe something. The raising of blasphemy laws did not go into the right direction.

ARUN KHOTE, of Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association (MBOSCUDA), said that racism as a fact of life had been known to the Indian society for the last 3,000 years. All international instruments including the United Nations Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had failed to remove this cancer from this society. The north-eastern territories of South Asia, home to mongoloid races for ages, were target of wholesale discrimination. They were forced to adopt foreign Indian social ways and were systematically denied opportunities for education and development. The Mbororo Association said that this Council must consider establishing a Special Procedure on the condition of Dalits as well as the north-eastern Mongoloid territories of South Asia.

ANDREA MARIFIL CALFUNAOS, of Indian Council of South America, said in Chile there was a systematic implementation of a new law which violated the civil and political rights of indigenous peoples. There was a system that wished to obtain genetic fingerprints for investigative purposes and this law was applied in an arbitrary fashion, all those who were against it were taken to court. Those who had long hair for traditional reasons were made to cut their hair. A law was being discussed that would putatively recognise the indigenous peoples - the Government did not recognise the sovereignty of these people, despite treaties that had been drawn up in the past.

PATRIZIA SCANNELLA, of Amnesty International, said that Amnesty International believed that all persons were entitled to fully enjoy all their human rights without discrimination. Racism was an attack on the very notion of human rights and violated the fundamental principle underlying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 2001 Durban Declaration had demonstrated that the international community could be united in the conviction that racism had to be eliminated.

Amnesty International welcomed that the sustained efforts of the High Commissioner, some Governments and some non-governmental organizations had now given grounds for hopeful expectation that the Review Conference would make a positive contribution to uniting the international community in combating racism. The Review Conference offered promise for some progress in eliminating racism.

JAN LONN, of International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, welcomed the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, but said, now eight years afterwards there was the view that perhaps there was an erosion of support among Member States and the Movement hoped this would be cleared up before the Review Conference started in April. The World Conference against Racism and its programme had been categorized as a programme on equal footing and on an equal level as all other United Nations conferences and summits. However, this was not the case and the Movement said it had not been given the same resources and commitment as others had. The report of the Working Group on Peoples of African Descent was both welcomed and supported.

AUSTIN DACEY, of Center for Inquiry International, said with regards to the present draft outcome document on the Durban Review Conference, the Center was pleased that the negotiations resulted in the removal from the document of the notion of defamation of religions. The concept of defamation of religions was not the right legal instrument with which to address the problems of racism and discrimination based on religion or belief - divisive debates over offences to religious feelings would only detract from legitimate attempts to grapple with racism and discrimination. The world was watching to see whether the members of the Council would side with the victims of discrimination, or whether they were more concerned with choosing sides in an invented clash of civilisations.

MARIA CISSE, of December Twelfth Movement International Secretariat, in a joint statement with World Organization against Torture, gave some critical and historical perspective to the current attempt to reverse the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. The rolling text was in fact an attempt to roll back the Declaration as it ignored the demand for compensation and reparations for the trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery. The attempts by the western powers to avoid international condemnation for its racist, white supremacist and colonial history were all well documented.

LAZARO PARY, of Indian Movement “Tupaj Amaru”, said if one would carry out an analysis of the cause and affects of all this, colonialism was at the root cause of racism and racial discrimination. Everyone had the responsibility to ensure that redress and compensation was ensured to all those who suffered under colonialism. The document did not mention any reparation or compensation. The responsibility of States to provide reparation and compensation fell within the framework of the Durban Review Conference, as the scourges of discrimination and racism remained around the world.

ABDEL WAHAB HANI, of Arab Commission for Human Rights, said two issues appeared to be the cause of the stalemate with regards to the Durban Review Conference and the Plan of Action, namely the Palestinian question and defamation of religions. The manifold discrimination suffered by the Palestinian people required attention. No State was above criticism. Diehard supporters of the Jewish State must realise that political interest did not last - the only thing that did was the judgement of history. On the need for complementary standards, Islam had never suffered from a lack of expression - however, it was the freedom of expression that the Muslim people lacked today, particularly in the Arab world.

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For use of the information media; not an official record