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

2 September



Following the President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Deputy President of South Africa and the Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, the first eight speakers in this morning's plenary session were carried over from yesterday. This was because last night's meeting continued until midnight, Susan Markham, Spokeswoman for the World Conference against Racism, said at today's daily noon briefing. There had not been time to hear all statements of those listed to speak yesterday.

Hopefully, she said, today's session would proceed much faster if speakers adhered to the time limits set for delivering statements.

She said the Conference had now elected all its officers, including the Chairmen of the two working groups of the Drafting Committee. Bonaventure M. Bowa (Zambia) was elected Chairman of Working Group II, dealing with the Programme of Action. Marc Bossuyt (Belgium) was elected Chairman of Working Group I, dealing with the Declaration, Ms. Markham added. That working group had been working under Ali Khorram (Iran), Chairman of the Drafting Committee.

Yesterday, she said, Working Group I had adopted five preambular paragraphs of the draft Declaration. It adopted paragraphs 12, 16, 19 and 26 without changes, as well as a revised version of paragraph 25. Working Group II adopted three paragraphs of the draft Programme of Action after extensive revisions.

Also meeting today was the General Committee, Ms. Markham said. Comprising members of the Conference Bureau, the vice-chairs and elected officials of its various bodies, the General Committee's work involves establishing working procedures and matters such as the handling the so-called "difficult issues" facing the Conference.

Regarding such difficult issues, she said Mexico would continue as facilitator of the group handling the question of victims of discrimination, while Brazil and Kenya would facilitate discussion of the issue of the legacy of the past. Norway would be the facilitator of the Middle East question.

Questions and Answers:

Regarding the availability of the youth forum declaration presented during the preceding press conference to Mrs. Robinson and to Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Ms. Markham said copies of the document were available at the information counter.

Asked why the United States delegation was not listed to speak today, Ms. Markham replied that the plenary would run through to the end of the Conference. That delegation would make its statement at some point.

She said in response to another question that she did not have a copy of a statement resulting from the NGO Forum.

The Spokeswoman told another correspondent that the meetings to be facilitated by Brazil and Kenya on the legacy of the past would not be open to the media.

Asked about the long queues of NGO representatives seeking access to the International Convention Centre, Ms. Markham replied that the building had a capacity of 5,500. A total of 3,744 non-governmental organizations had been accredited to the Conference and a total of 17,000 badges to individuals attending the Conference.

Another journalist asked if there was an official dress code, citing an NGO representative who had been turned away and told to change her T-shirt, which bore the portrait of a Palestinian boy killed in the current Middle East violence.

The Spokeswoman said she was not aware of an official dress code. She would check and get back to the correspondent.

Regarding problems with the shuttle buses, she told another journalists that the South African Government was in charge of transportation between the Conference and hotels. On complaints of unprofessional treatment at the hands of organizers, she told him to contact her office in the event of any problems.

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