World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
Durban, South Africa
31 August 7 September 2001
Office of the Spokeswoman

29 August 2001


Business and trade union leaders will meet in Durban on 31 August to discuss the impact of racism and discrimination in the workplace and wider community.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will open the meeting, in which Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Secretary-General of the World Conference against Racism, will also take part. The meeting is one of a wide range of special events taking place in conjunction with the World Conference.

The dialogue will highlight private sector initiatives to promote equality and inclusion in and out of the workplace, and look at obstacles faced in fighting discrimination. Participants will also explore opportunities for new cross?sectoral partnerships post-Durban as part of their commitment to the Secretary-General's Global Compact.

The high-level dialogue is the first of three events planned during the World Conference to address the role of the private sector in combating discrimination and fostering diversity. On 1 September, a workshop with representatives of companies, trade unions, civil society groups and governments will identify ways of working together to make real progress on these issues. On 4 September, a joint International Labour Organisation-Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights panel on "Implementing Equality and Diversity Policies: Private Sector Action" will allow people involved in the development and implementation of equality and diversity policies or projects in the private sector to interact.

As the Secretary-General has noted: "The Global Compact aims to embed the global market in shared values. It is also a learning forum, so that participating companies can show the way for others through enlightened leadership and creative partnerships. I am encouraged by the commitment of Compact participants who have agreed to throw their considerable weight behind the cause of diversity and non-discrimination".

The 31 August panel is scheduled from 16:30 to 18:00 in Conference Room 7 of the Durban Exhibition Centre. In addition to Kofi Annan and Mary Robinson, the participants will be:

Sven Eckerstein, Deputy CEO, Volvo Car Corporation (Sweden)
Bill Jordan, General Secretary, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
Mpho Letlape, Executive Director - Human Resources, Eskom (South Africa)
Ramalinga Raju, Chairman, Satyam Computer Services (India)
Ashraf Tabani, Immediate Past President, International Organisation of Employers
Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme
Alain Ludovic Tou, Minister of Employment, Labour and Social Security, Burkina Faso, and Chairman, International Labour Organisation Governing Body
Vic Van Vuuren, Chief Executive, The Sanlam Group (South Africa)

For more information about the Global Compact, contact:

Scott Jerbi, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights:
Telephone at International Convention Centre: +27 31 360 1078; or Jose Luis Diaz, +27 31 360 1094.

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