27/07/2001
Press Release
RD/915



PREPARATORY COMMITTEE OF WORLD CONFERENCE AGAINST RACISM TO MEET IN GENEVA


GENEVA, 27 July (UN Information Service) -- The Preparatory Committee for the World Conference against Racism will meet from 30 July to 10 August in Geneva, to finalize its work on the draft declaration and programme of action to be considered by the World Conference in Durban from 31 August to 7 September of this year.


The Preparatory Committee began negotiating the draft declaration and programme of action (see document A/CONF.189/PC.3/7) at its last meeting, held from 21 May to 1 June.  Work on consolidating and streamlining the draft documents continued at the end of that meeting under a group of 21 countries representing all regional groups and chaired by South Africa.


Much of the text that remains to be negotiated is not controversial and relates to victims of racial discrimination and new measures that can be taken to ensure a better integration of marginalized groups in society, including better access to employment, education, and housing, as well as assistance and support in obtaining access to the judicial system and public services.


Ahead of the preparatory meeting, Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Secretary-General of the Conference, said the Durban meeting would be "nothing less than a conference to discuss the core principles that should underpin this new century.  It is an important opportunity for the world community to commit, for the first time in the post-apartheid era, to a truly global effort to address the ancient and the modern manifestations of this evil".


Acknowledging difficulties still outstanding weeks before the Conference, including the question of addressing past violations such as slavery and discussion of the situation in the Middle East, Mrs. Robinson said, "I believe we can have a successful outcome.  I have spoken of the need for a breakthrough on racism at Durban.  It will require good will and compromise on all sides; I am sure that no country or group will walk away completely satisfied.  But the time for staking out positions and laying down markers has passed -- we are now at the stage where we need to begin reaching agreements."


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