27 August 2001
HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS EXPRESSES CONFIDENCE ON OUTCOME OF WORLD RACISM CONFERENCE
The Secretary-General of the World Conference against Racism, High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, expressed confidence today that the Durban meeting will reach a breakthrough in dealing with past wrongs in order to build a better future.
Speaking before a meeting with South African President Thabo Mbeki in Johannesburg, Mrs. Robinson said she was encouraged by the constructive atmosphere that had become apparent in the last weeks before the talks in Durban, and by evidence that the political will existed to reach “a shared commitment to tackle intolerance and bias”.
The High Commissioner said intensive discussions had taken place, and were continuing, on a number of outstanding issues, and that considerable progress had been made.
“Flexibility is being shown in the search for language on the questions of addressing the past – including slavery and colonialism – and the Middle East”, she said. “One thing I would like to reaffirm is that there is a clear understanding that the formulation ‘Zionism equals racism’ has been done away with”.
On the question of participation at Durban, Mrs. Robinson said, “We will need the participation of all countries at the highest level possible to demonstrate our determination to fight this plague”.
“There is still a lot of work to be done”, Mrs. Robinson continued. “We want the final document of the Conference to be a sort of Magna Carta in the fight against racism. I firmly believe Durban can mark a historic breakthrough”