Press Release

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† RD/904*

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 25 January 2001



(Received from a UN Information Officer.)

DAKAR, 22 January -- The African regional preparatory meeting for the World Conference against Racism began its deliberations in Dakar, Senegal, on

22 January 2001, with a call by President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal for more democracy in Africa.† In his keynote address, President Wade said that Africans should courageously look into the future, where the real challenges were the fight for respect of human rights and genuine democracy.† He said that, in his view, racism was no longer a global problem and added:† “the real problem is the violation of human rights, xenophobia, ethnicism and intolerance”.

Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Secretary General of the World Conference, also called for more democracy in Africa.† She also urged the meeting to consider the gender dimension as an essential element in the preparation of the World Conference against Racism.† She underlined the multiple forms of discrimination suffered by women, and commended the role of African women’s organizations in the mobilization of support for the World Conference.

Ms. Robinson told the African gathering that Africa should continue to speak up and determine its priorities, articulate its recommendations, listen to civil society, express its commitments, and underline what it expects from others.† She reviewed what she termed as “the sheer scale of the tragedies” experienced by the peoples of Africa, and reminded the gathering that developing an understanding of problems in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural setting was, indeed, necessary.

The High Commissioner stressed that Africa’s youth were its resources and its future.† Yet, many had emigrated, only to experience the racism and xenophobia outside the continent.† She emphasized education and awareness-raising as central themes to successful deliberations, and urged the transmission of African values to ensure success in the prevention and management of conflicts.

The Assistant Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Said Djinit, referred to the history of the horrors of slave trade in Africa and said that the aspiration of the peoples of the continent for justice and equality continued to remain at the heart of the political struggle.

The Dakar meeting will wind up on 24 January.† It is expected to draw on best practices and propose remedies to racial discrimination in the region, and


*†††† Originally issued as Press Release HR/4511.

- 2 - Press Release

to draft an action plan for governments, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).† More than 200 participants, from governments, national and intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, national and academic institutions, are participating.† The African meeting in Dakar is the third regional meeting held in preparation for the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance to be held in Durban, South Africa, from 31 August to 7 September 2001.

Further information regarding the Conference may be obtained from the Web site: http://www.unhchr.ch or, by contacting Teferra Shiawl at the World Conference Secretariat, Geneva, on fax:† (41-22) 917 9050, or by e-mail at tshiawlk.hchr@unog.ch.

* *** *