World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Department of Public Information - News and Media Services Division - New York
Durban, South Africa
31 August 7 September 2001
PRESS RELEASE

  MARY ROBINSON TO SIGN THE PLEDGE AGAINST RACISM
WILL MEET STUDENT ARTISTS AT INTERNATIONAL YOUTH ART EXHIBITION,
"ART AGAINST RACISM"
3 SEPTEMBER, 2001: 12:45 P.M.
FOYER AREA, GROUND FLOOR, INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE
DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA



"As a citizen of the world community, I stand with the United Nations against racism, discrimination and intolerance of any kind. Throughout my life I will try to promote equality, justice and dignity among all people in my home, my community and everywhere in the world".

These are the words of the United Nations Personal Pledge Against Racism, launched in December 2000 as part of an international youth art competition to promote the World Conference against Racism. A selection of the drawings, paintings, essays and poems are now on view in a two-part display at the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Durban (ground floor, foyer area) and at the Durban Exhibition Centre (DEC).

A group of the youth artists from South Africa and from the United States will be attending the event with Mary Robinson to present her with the "United Nations Pledge Against Racism" on 3 September at the ICC main foyer exhibition site.

The pledge and the art competition were organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information in cooperation with the Youth Art Connection / Boys and Girls Clubs of Atlanta in the United States, who worked with over 30 countries in their global youth outreach programme, International Paint Pals.

UN Information Centres worldwide also participated, along with Survivors Art Foundation, Totem Rythms, Cheney University in the United States and several non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
A special nationwide competition was held throughout South Africa, organized by the UN Information Centre, Pretoria. Former South African President Nelson Mandela handed over the first prize--a bicycle--to Christa Schutz from Glencoe, Kwazulu-Natal, at his home in Houghton on 9 July. Mandela asked Christa to explain the painting and to "tell all the children I love them". Reknowned musician Hugh Masekela was one of the five judges who selected the winning entries for the Durban exhibit.

In Atlanta, home of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Youth Art Connection hosted an event to "Stomp Out Racism", where hundreds of children placed their feet in buckets of coloured paint and stepped onto a huge canvas banner, and stomped out the words "racism, hatred, bigotry, prejudice and intolerance". The event was held at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site and the banner was carried to the Durban Conference from Atlanta to be part of the art exhibition.

Survivors Art Foundation, with students from Cheney University--the oldest historically black university in the United States--also prepared hanging silk paintings for the Durban Conference. Four students from Cheney University came to Durban to help with the creation of a "Tree of Pledges" at the exhibit site in the DEC. Totem Rhythms also created banners and "story poles" with young and elder Native Americans, using indigenous symbols and patterns.
Since its launch in December 2000, more than a million people have signed the Pledge Against Racism, which was sent around the world via the Internet, through the UN Information Centres, and through NGOs. The United Nations Information Centres in India and Bangladesh alone collected over 60,000 signatures; many of these are now incorporated into the Tree of Pledges in Durban.

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