10 August 2001


Negotiators meeting in Geneva tonight finalized their work on a draft Declaration and draft Programme of Action to be considered by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, from 31 August to 7 September.

The move came at the end of two weeks of intensive deliberations by the third session of the Preparatory Committee of the World Conference. The documents still contain language that will be the subject of negotiations in Durban.

Summing up the session, High Commissioner for Human Rights and Secretary-General of the World Conference Mary Robinson said considerable progress had been made. Mrs. Robinson pointed to reports by the chairpersons of three panels set up to look for compromise language on "three difficult issues" and noted that they had struck an optimistic note.

On the question of the Middle East, Mrs. Robinson said, the South African chair of the panel had reported that, "views were still divergent, but there was great potential to close the gap". On that issue, she continued, "a process was underway".

She added that the Brazilian chair of the panel looking at questions related to slavery, colonialism and reparations had said that ideas were converging, while the Mexican head of a group dealing with the theme of victims of racism had conveyed the view that "the elements [of an agreement] were there", and that he felt optimistic.

The assessments of the three people most closely involved with negotiating outstanding questions "give us hope and encouragement", she said. "A lot remains to be done. But I think we can say that a framework has emerged from this Preparatory Committee which will carry our work forward to Durban". She urged delegates to make the best use of the time remaining before the Conference to seek ways of resolving outstanding issues.

The documents adopted at the session also include a draft provisional agenda (document A/CONF.189/PC.3/9/Rev.1) and a draft provisional programme of work (document A/CONF.189/PC.3/Misc.5) for the World Conference. The report of the third session of the Preparatory Committee, containing the draft Declaration and the draft Programme of Action, is found in document A/CONF.189/PC.3/L.1 and Add.1 and Add.2.

For more information on the World Conference, please visit the following websites: www.unhchr.ch/html/racism/index.htm, http://www.un.org/WCAR.