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
4 September 2001
PM & Night Meeting
PRESIDENT, SECRETARY-GENERAL URGE DELEGATES TO COMMIT TO ENSURING
URGED AT RACISM CONFERENCE
National Human Rights Bodies Address General Debate
As the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance reached its half-way point, a number of national human rights institutions, as well as representatives of United Nations human rights bodies and experts affirmed the essential importance of the promotion of human rights as well as the need to give support to existing human rights instruments in the global fight against racial prejudice and intolerance.
Many speakers strongly emphasized the need to ensure the protection and promotion of the rights and unique diversity of the world's indigenous populations, as well as the needs of a wide variety of other particularly vulnerable groups, including migrants and people living with HIV/AIDS.
Erica Irene-Daes, Chairperson of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations, said thus far the level of the United Nations operational investment in the world's indigenous peoples had been small -- less than one tenth of 1 per cent of the operational budget of the United Nations system, or roughly one cent for every indigenous family. That came at a time when indigenous populations were losing their lands faster than ever as a result of growing foreign direct investment in certain parts of the world. Indigenous peoples regarded that as discriminatory, especially since they received little or no assistance from most of the countries in which they lived.
Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala, winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, addressed the Conference in her personal capacity. She said indigenous people expected the Conference to be critical to the recognition of their rights, which have been denied for centuries. During the preparatory process, that group had continually insisted they be recognized as peoples.
Many speakers stressed the importance of civil society in ensuring the aims of the Conference, but representatives of national human rights institutions and other human rights advocates also shared their opinion that to combat racism and related intolerance, political will of States was indispensable and that States had the primary responsibility to adopt and rigorously implement adequate criminal, civil and administrative measures to
condemn racist acts, prohibit discrimination and provide victims with effective resources.
The designated spokesperson of National Institutions, which constitutes human rights institutions and other relevant specialized institutions created for the promotion and protection of human rights, called on the Conference to ensure that the international community, including regional organizations, as well as the United Nations and its treaty bodies and agencies, act in a manner consistent with international standards relative to discrimination and intolerance.
Kamel Rezag-Bara, Vice President of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, Africa's regional human rights body, said that since this was the first world conference ever held in Africa, it is therefore important for African nations to help influence the outcome. The New African Initiative was a step towards eradicating poverty on the continent and ensuring sustainable development and economic growth.
The National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria called on the Conference to demand reparations, not necessarily in terms of monetary compensation to individuals -- even though that had recently been done for victims after the Second World War -- but in the cancellation of the crippling debt burdens imposed on African nations by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and related agencies, accompanied by massive aid targeted at substantively providing unfettered development to the victims and their descendants, wherever they may reside. "We support institution-building", he added "not individual cash payments".
World leaders were also told this afternoon and evening that, included in the draft Declaration and Programme of Action were a range of positive, forward-looking measures which could make a difference for victims of racism and related intolerance. The representative of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Michelle Falardeau-Ramasay, said while those measures were not necessarily the "big issues" which had been attracting so much media attention during the past few days, they included teaching tolerance in schools, positive reflections of diversity in the media and ensuring that covert or systemic racism in the workplace was addressed -- smaller issues but still vital to the daily struggle against racism.
The Conference also heard from several human rights experts in the United Nations system, including the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia; the Special Rapporteur of Religious Intolerance; the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants; and the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women.
The Conference, which opened last week and continues through Friday, 7 September, has set as a goal adopting a Declaration and Programme of Action that can be used as a framework by individual countries, governments and their civil society partners to promote policies of tolerance and further protect citizens from all forms of discrimination.
Among other speakers addressing the meeting was Thebe Mogami, Minister for Presidential Affairs of Botswana.
The representatives of Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu and Madagascar spoke.
Other speakers included Solari Yrigoyen, Vice-Chairman of the United Nations Human Rights Committee and Asbbjorn Eide, Chairman of the Working Group on Minorities.
Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) addressed the meeting. Representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) also spoke.
The Vice-President of the Inter-American Development Bank addressed the meeting.
Representatives of the following bodies also spoke: International Olympic Committee; Malawi Human Rights Commission; Danish Centre for Human Rights; Morocco Consultative Council for Human Rights; National Human Rights Commission of Togo; National Human Rights Commission of Rwanda; National Human Rights Commission of Madagascar; The Philippine Human Rights Commission; Ombudsman Office of Colombia; Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka; National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms of Cameroon; Office of the Race Relations Conciliator of New Zealand; Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Australia; and National Consultation Commission for Human Rights, France.
Carlyle Corbin, Minister of State, Representative for External Affairs of the United States Virgin Islands also addressed the meeting.
Other speakers included representatives of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries and the International Olympic Committee.
The Conference will continue its general debate tomorrow at 10 a.m.
PATRICK EDWARDS (Trinidad and Tobago): In the fifteenth century European explorers visited the Caribbean region and claimed our country as their own. Since that fateful encounter, our twin island State has changed hands among various European countries. The influx of colonizers resulted in the annihilation of the indigenous people and their culture. It set in train the wholesale transportation of people from Africa to our country and the region. The end of slavery was followed by the importation of people from Asia under the indentureship system. Those events set the stage for the inevitable clash of cultures between peoples of Africa, Europe and Asia, and gave birth to racism and racial exploitation in Trinidad and Tobago.
Despite that tragic past, since independence we have been able to transform our country into a tolerant, harmonious, multi-ethnic and multicultural society in which every creed and race finds an equal place. The Constitution expressly prohibits the practice of discrimination by the State on the basis of an individual's race, origin, colour, religion or sex. These rights are fully respected and are safeguarded by an independent judiciary. Our Government's efforts to preserve and protect diversity are also reflected in its policies towards our few remaining descendants of the indigenous people.
On the international level, we believe that racism and racial discrimination cannot be fully eradicated without taking into account the deep wounds inflicted by slavery, the slave trade and indentureship. Transatlantic slavery, the slave trade and colonialism must be declared crimes against humanity. We also call for an apology from those countries which practised colonialism and slavery. We endorse the call for reparations and express support for the establishment of an international centre for multiracial and multicultural studies and policy development and the establishment of a programme to restore art objects, historical artifacts and documents to the countries of their origin.
THEBE D. MOGAMI, Minister of Presidential Affairs of Botswana: The past injustices and their drastic consequences should be acknowledged and be truly repented by the perpetrators. Consequently, there should be a genuine and concerted effort to address and redress the imbalances brought about by those injustices. No one can deny that slavery, the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism were a crime against humanity, which brought about immense suffering to Africans and African descendants. It is, therefore, our moral responsibility that at this Conference, time and collective intellectual energy should be galvanized towards finding solutions and measures to tackle those imbalances head on. There are more issues on which we agree than those on which we disagree.
Botswana has been blessed by the accident of history in that it has always enjoyed racial harmony and tolerance among all its people. Our society has a wealth of ethnic minorities, who enrich our culture and traditions. Among that mosaic, we have the Basarwa, who have attracted the interest of the international community and media because of the uniqueness of their culture and lifestyle. The ethnic group of Basarwa form an integral part of the Botswana nation and population. The majority of Basarwa have been integrated in the mainstream of Botswana society.
We urge those with resources and technological means to lend support towards all the programmes and projects which aim to reverse the effects of racism emanating from slavery, colonialism and racial discrimination. We extend our support for and render commitment to the African Union and all initiatives which have been adopted to address the imbalances, the majority of which are due to the tragic consequences of past legacies.
IFTIKHAR AHMAD AYAZ (Tuvalu): The growing number of organizations and people who openly describe themselves as racist is worrying. Dissatisfaction with the circumstances of their life, fear of unemployment and insecurity about the future are the main characteristics of those who put themselves at the top of the racist scale. We must not allow legal registration of any racist groups or organizations in our countries. In the name of democracy and freedom of expression, we should not let the racists degenerate and disintegrate our societies.
Poverty is not only an issue of economics, it impacts upon the overall quality and morale of a society and can easily become an instrument for the victimization of disadvantaged groups, including indigenous people. Failure to recognize indigenous peoples and to accord them appropriate rights make it impossible for them to maintain their way of life.
We also have responsibility towards ensuring that our children are educated in an environment free from racism. Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance can have a profound and lasting impact on the lives of children. As such, we should reflect on the role of education, in particular for children belonging to vulnerable groups, and to set up a programme of action that helps to fight all forms of discrimination against children.
MAXIME PASCAL ZAFERA (Madagascar): The persistence of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance is a source of serious concern for the international community. It is most important to note that in places where racism is thought not to be prevalent, more forms of racism are practised, particularly in job or housing application processes or access to public places. We must also not forget the serious danger of the Internet when used to spread racist propaganda. The international community must not let those manifestations of racism prosper. We must take action at this Conference to eliminate those scourges, considered among the most ignoble mankind has ever known.
The history of racism is rooted in slavery and the slave trade. Those practices still affect Africans and their communities today. We must look at that dark history in order to understand and move forward in the present. Apart from the duty to remember, we have the duty to ensure that just and appropriate measures are adopted to compensate for those wrongs. It is our hope that all delegations will show the requisite political will in the interest of a higher human good. For our part, we support the recommendations of the African Group on that issue. Our own history prohibits any forms of discrimination based on race, religious belief or economic background. Our Government also imposes penalties on those that are found to impose racist or xenophobic practices. Our work here in Durban must mobilize not only national authorities but civil society and non-governmental organizations. We must also not forget the importance of the mass media in raising public awareness.
CARLYLE CORBIN, Minister of State for External Affairs of the United States Virgin Islands: The themes of this Conference are of particular relevance to the Virgin Islands, emerging as we did from centuries of slavery as the former Danish West Indies. In fact, it was only a few months ago -- on 3 July -- that we celebrated the 153rd anniversary of our emancipation from that brutal system. It is an event we commemorate each year to pay homage to the bravery of our forefathers in taking back their freedom. Our ancestors, who originated from the area between Upper Guinea through Angola, had been forcibly uprooted from their homes and transported via the infamous transatlantic slave route to the Caribbean.
The Government has entered into two agreements with Denmark for the preservation and repatriation of the historical documents and artifacts removed from the former Danish West Indies during the period of Danish rule. It is our view that the consumption of those two bilateral agreements serve as an important first step in the full implementation of proposed remedies contained in the draft programme of action of this Conference. We applaud Denmark for their enlightened cooperation thus far, and look forward to the expansion of such programmes in the future.
There remain some 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories, mostly in the Caribbean and Pacific regions, under formal review by the General Assembly. A Special Committee on decolonization, which was so important to the successful self-determination and subsequent emergence of African and Caribbean States in the 1960s through to the independence of Namibia at the beginning of the 1990s, remains seized of that matter. The political inequality of those remaining Territories is an unfortunate hold-over from the last millennium. The General Assembly has a sacred obligation to ensure that the people of those territories achieve absolute political equality. The successful election in East Timor last week is an example of the successful implementation of that mandate, and evidence of the role the United Nations can play in that process if the political will exists.
K. BURKE DILLON, Executive Vice President of the Inter-American Development Bank: The countries of Latin American and the Caribbean are home to an extraordinary richness of peoples, cultures and ethnic heritages. The region is one of the most racially diverse in the world. That cultural diversity permeates every aspect of life in the region, and provides a wealth of resources and knowledge that can form the basis for development with identity. It is estimated that more than one third of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean -- more than 150 million people -- is of African or indigenous descent.
In recent years, as democracy has been consolidated throughout our region, there has been a growing recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendant communities. Those rights have often been formally set forth in national laws and constitutions. Now, the challenge is to move beyond written laws to successful implementation of public policies. A principal stumbling block is the lack of data. Less than one third of the countries in the region collect information on their populations of African descent in censuses or household surveys. While most do collect data on indigenous peoples, the data is often incomplete. Nevertheless, in the few countries of the region where the data do exist, the analysis speaks volumes about the links between race, ethnicity and poverty. Our analysis show that indigenous peoples in Guatemala, Peru and Bolivia, and blacks in Brazil, have on average less than half the number of years of schooling as have dominant groups. Less education translates into jobs that are lower paid and with fewer benefits. And even when Afro-descendants or indigenous peoples have the same levels of education, the continued presence of discrimination in the labour market leads to lower salaries than for whites. And women of colour bear the burden of double discrimination in the family, the classroom and the labour market.
The Inter-American Development Bank stands ready -- through loans, policy dialogue and technical cooperation -- to support our member countries in their efforts to fight racism and its consequences. The Bank is committed to keeping the momentum from this Conference going. We are ready to help in the construction of a new world in which the full human potential of all its people is realized, and in which diversity is truly valued.
DULCE MARIA PEREIRA, Executive Secretary of the Community of the Portuguese Speaking Countries: The Community of the Portuguese Speaking Countries, which besides their member States has as observer and future member Eastern Timor, is committed to the consolidation of processes that must root out the practices and consequences of racism, which are responsible for producing a negative impact on the development of States and on human development in all countries.
The Community, in its constitution and action, has shown new forms of relationships among its member countries. It has constructed political and diplomatic relationships and forms of cooperation which have allowed us to deal with our past as a reference for structuring, in the present, processes of development in order to ensure better conditions for our peoples and more just participation in production and the right to enjoy the benefit of global wealth. The consolidation of our young democracies and of peace has been the challenge facing us in our daily lives in Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Buissau, Sao Tome and Principe, Mozambique, Portugal and East Timor. Our young organization has transformed our diversity and geographical presence on various continents into advantages.
KAMEL REZAG-BARA, Vice President of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights: As the African regional human rights body, the Commission joins the rest of the world in the struggle against racism by drawing inspiration from the African Charter -- which guarantees every individual all basic fundamental rights without distinction of any kind. This is the first World Conference ever held in Africa, and it is therefore important for African nations to help influence the outcome. The New African Initiative is a step towards eradicating poverty on the continent and ensuring sustainable development and economic growth.
The legacy of slavery and colonization were the primary sources of racism and racial discrimination in Africa. Slavery as a whole caused a significant lack of cohesion among the ethnic groups in Africa that has given rise to tensions between them today, which has led to several conflicts. Those conflicts have resulted in many displaced persons and refugees. African States must recognize that racism reaches beyond distinction based on colour -- it also affects tribe, language or religion. In the new African Union, there is a body that will settle disputes concerning questions of discrimination.
The universal fight against racism and racial discrimination is primarily a human rights issue. It affects the way the nations of the world examine their past. That past should be redressed with formal and public recognition of the wrongs of the past, and with appropriate reparations for the victims and the descendants of victims.
PETER PIOT, Executive Director, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS): Nothing illustrates the global impact of discrimination and intolerance more than the global AIDS epidemic. HIV-related stigma and discrimination are immense barriers to effective responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Giving in to HIV/AIDS by blaming others for transmitting HIV creates the ideal conditions for the virus to spread: denying there is a problem, forcing those at risk or already infected underground, and losing any opportunity for effective public education, treatment or care. Shame must be replaced with solidarity. People living with HIV are part of the solution, not part of the problem. The are the world's untapped resource in responding to the epidemic.
Intolerance attaches new fears to old forms. In many cases, HIV-stigma has attached itself to pre-existing stigmas, to racial stereotypes and to discrimination against women and sexual minorities. The reality is that HIV affects rich and poor, white and black, men and women. However, over time its effects tend to become largest among the most disadvantaged, whether on racial, gender or economic grounds. The fact that today the overwhelming majority of people with HIV in the developing world do not have access to life-saving treatment is the most crying discrimination against the poor.
The HIV stigma can be attacked and discrimination overcome. Leaders at all levels need to challenge visible HIV-discrimination. HIV-related violations of human rights must be documented and public inquiries into them must be conducted. Groups of people living with HIV need to be supported. A supportive legislative environment must exist so that discrimination can be tackled. Both prevention and care services must be accessible to all parts of the population, with particular efforts to overcome the barriers of racial, gender and other discrimination.
WINNIE MPANJU-SHUMBUSHO, Director of HIV/AIDS Strategy, Advocacy and partnerships of the World Health Organization (WHO): Overt or implicit discrimination violates one of the fundamental principles of human rights and often lies at the root of poor health status. Women, children, the elderly, ethnic and racial minorities and persons afflicted with the HIV/AIDS virus, among others, are examples of groups which have traditionally suffered discrimination in society. Discrimination both causes and magnifies poverty and ill health. The right to the highest attainable standard of health can only be exercised when health facilities, goods and services are provided in a non-discriminatory manner, accessible to all, especially the most vulnerable or marginalized sections of our society.
Although evidence is scant, due to lack of a global research agenda, available data does show unacceptable inequalities in health and health care of ethnic and racial groups. In that regard, the WHO recommends that further research be conducted to explore the links between health and all forms of discrimination. Such research would inform and create a basis for countries to take appropriate action. Only by generating the evidence can we move forward in taking the appropriate action to concretely address the problems we are discussing here today. Such action will serve as a vital bridge to take us from acknowledging disturbing trends to being able to generate effective solutions.
ROXANNA CARRILLO, Human Rights Adviser for Women, United Nations Development Fund for Women: Gender-based violence is now recognized as one of the most widespread violations of human rights and a major public health problem in every country. The growing worldwide sex trade manifests increasing racial and ethnic characteristics. The 2000 report on trafficking by the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women notes that while poverty remains a major contributor to the trafficking nexus, other factors are also important, such as traditional practices in certain villages and among certain castes whereby girls are sold into concubinage for feudal lords or into prostitution.
The Fund is especially concerned with the underlying causes of inequality and discrimination against women of marginalized communities with regard to their economic independence and well-being. Many experts have written about colonialism as a "race" experience. They also see in colonialism a major cause of the reliance of many markets today on cheap and reliable labour -- much of which is female. Between and within nations, millions of women migrants from racially and ethnically marginalized groups are targeted and de-skilled for sub-standard work as cleaners, sweatshop pieceworkers, homeworkers and sex workers, all occupations that perpetuate gender and racial stereotypes.
Gender inequality is fuelling the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It deprives women of the ability to say no to risky practices, leads to coerced sex and sexual violence, keeps women uninformed about prevention, puts them last in line for care and life-saving treatment, and imposes an overwhelming burden for the care of the sick and the dying. Those fundamental threats to women's lives, health and well-being are critical human rights issues.
ERICA-IRENE DAES, Chairperson of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations: There has been discussion about the problem of the definition of "indigenous peoples" in an African context. In one sense, most Africans are indigenous because their ancestors came from Africa. But there is another meaning to the term "indigenous", and it has developed out of the efforts of the United Nations to do justice to hundreds of millions of neglected and oppressed people around the world, who all suffer from a particular form of racism based on their way of life, their religions, their means of subsistence and their attachment to their lands. That kind of discrimination cannot be eliminated by criticizing tribalism, by making everyone attend the same school systems or by declaring everyone to be equal as citizens of the State. That approach was tried and failed in the Americas long before it was tried in Africa. Involuntary assimilation is the ultimate expression of racism. The result is an even deeper feeling of grievance and injustice, and an even more intractable social conflict. Freedom is about having choice, not about people being exactly the same.
Thus far, the level of the United Nations operational investment in the world's indigenous peoples has been small -- less than one tenth of 1 per cent of the operational budget of the United Nations system, or roughly one cent for every indigenous family. Indigenous peoples regard that as discriminatory, especially as they receive little or no assistance from most of the countries in which they live. In the case of indigenous people's rights, particularly their land rights, it is time for action and not words. Most of the world's 300 million indigenous people live within what some economists have described as extractive frontiers -- that is, areas of intense new development activity in the mining and forest products sectors. Indigenous peoples are losing their lands faster than ever as a result of growing foreign direct investment in certain parts of the world.
This is not to deny that some governments have taken important steps to protect indigenous peoples and their territories, at least to the extent of adopting new legislation and policies. Governments should not have to choose between economic stability and human rights. Unfortunately, certain governments, and their political majorities, continue to regard indigenous peoples as a threat to the existence of States. That position is not justified and constitutes a form of racism.
SOLARI YRIGOYEN, Vice-Chairman, United Nations Human Rights Committee: Our work causes us to constantly dive into the causes of racism and discrimination and we are aware of the importance of the struggle in that area. The International Convention on Economic and Civil Rights bans discrimination in many of its articles. Those rights are to be guaranteed to all persons without any distinction between persons whatsoever. Our Committee studies reports which States parties have to submit, and scrutinizes all matters relating to racial discrimination and indigenous people. It issues comments on those reports, and which demonstrate the continued existence of racism and discrimination in many countries of the world.
The Committee takes the view that manifestations of racism are not an expression of opinion and that freedom of expression cannot be an excuse for expressing racial hatred. Any manifestation of religious or racial hatred should be prohibited by law if it incites violence. Humankind has won significant battles over the last century in combating the scourge of racism. The Committee, however, does not ignore the fact that racism persists. As we move towards the dream of equality for all, new phenomena have emerged, such as the gap between rich and poor, that have provoked new outbreaks of racism. It is vital for States not to hide themselves from the existence of racism. The mistakes of the past must be acknowledged, but the present should also be taken into account. The Human Rights Committee will continue to do its utmost to secure respect for non-discrimination.
RIGOBERTA MENCHU, Guatemala, Winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, speaking in her personal capacity: Indigenous people expect that this Conference will give a critical history and an important outlook regarding the recognition of our rights, which have been denied for centuries. During the preparatory process, we continually insisted to be recognized as peoples. Paragraphs 26, 27 and 51 of the draft Declaration not only ignore our contributions and aspirations, but also reflect a flagrant violation of the universal principles of human rights. Those paragraphs are racist and illegal, and perpetuate the discrimination to which we are subject. Instead of recognizing our rights, those paragraphs send us back to uncertain and interminable negotiations and seek to submit us to existing judicial and institutional frameworks.
Indigenous peoples are the only peoples in the world who got their inherent rights delayed in an unacceptable way. We draw the attention of the Conference, the media and international public opinion to that matter, so that such a legal aberration and immoral injustice will not be pursued. We demand the deletion of the aforementioned text and the replacement of it in such a manner that the right to self-determination and other rights under international law are recognized for all peoples. If that demand is not accepted, we ask for withdrawal of all references to indigenous peoples from the documents of this Conference.
In its preparatory process, the Conference has been characterized by the total absence of political will on the part of former colonial States to engage with dignity in a debate on the historical causes of those phenomena and to assume their responsibility.
Between the first and the second conference, genocide -- qualified as such by the United Nations Truth Commission -- took place in my country, Guatemala, genocide of which I am a survivor. Indigenous Mayas, such as my mother, my father and my brothers, comprised 23 per cent of the 200,000 victims of that genocide. Today, no tribunal in the world has prosecuted those crimes against humanity.
ASBJORN EIDE, Chairman of the Working Group on Minorities: Efforts to establish international mechanisms for the minority protection of minorities were for a long time resisted by States. It was thought that an international system might become a pretext for interference in States' internal affairs, and that the preservation of the identity of minorities could be a threat to State unity and stability. It has since been recognized, however, that the stability of States is better safeguarded by recognizing the needs of the different ethnic groups, both to work together in society as a whole and to be able to preserve their own identity, culture and language. Repression of identity leads to tension and conflict and, thus, a much more serious risk to the unity of the State.
While on the face of it, the protection of minorities might seem to be at odds with the prevention of discrimination, it is fully possible to find a harmonious combination of the two. The ultimate purpose should be to obtain and effectively maintain equality of treatment for everyone. Transitional affirmative action should be taken, particularly in the economic and social field, in order to ensure equal opportunity for all. It is essential, however, that such affirmative action ends when the intended aim of equality has been achieved, and the means used must not be disproportionate in terms of its impact on the enjoyment by others of their human rights.
MAURICE GLELE-AHAHANZO, Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia: Far from being a pure exercise in rhetoric, an arena for philosophical, ideological or religious conflict, or a forum where power relations often prevail, the Durban Conference should make it possible to combat the dehumanizing scourge of racism and discrimination.
Racism pertains to the past, the present and the future. We must remember the past because humanity can only advance by recognizing and facing up to the mistakes of the past. We must recognize and educate all about the crimes that have been committed against humankind so that they can never occur again in any shape or form.
The proposition that some should forget the past is unfair to the victims of racism and discrimination and to their descendants. It should be seen as an attempt to continue denying the humanity of others. That denial is also related to slavery, as well as the transatlantic, trans-Indian Ocean and trans-Saharan slave trade. How can one give reparations in one place and refuse them in another? Racism spares no people or region of the world, although in some places it is more acute than others. We must not despair of humankind, which is always capable of moving on and developing.
Rights of Reply
The representative of Uganda, exercising his right of reply, said that Sudan had made a number of misrepresentations with respect to the conflict in the Sudan. Sudan had alleged that the President of Uganda was part of the causes of the civil war there. However, when the conflict began in 1956, President Museveni was attending primary school in his home village. Sudan has claimed that the conflict is a civil war and not a racial conflict. He did not point out that for decades, the civil war has been raging between black Sudanese in the southern part of the country and Arab Sudanese living in the north. It is difficult to avoid drawing the conclusion that racism is at the heart of that civil war.
The civil war in the Sudan is the result of the attempt by the Sudanese ruling class to forcibly Islamize and Arabize the black Christians in the southern part of the country, he said. There will be no end to that war until the policy of cultural and religious hegemony is abandoned. On several occasions, Sudan has openly stated that it had supported Ugandan anti-government rebels, allegedly in retaliation for Uganda's support for the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). Yet, when the Sudanese Government first armed Ugandan rebels in 1986, the SPLA was nowhere near the Uganda/Sudan border. It is well known that Sudanese governments have been hostile to every regime in Uganda except that of Idi Amin. The unholy alliance between President Bashir of Sudan and the former President Mobutu gave rise to the international conflict that engulfed the whole of the Great Lakes region.
He said there was a process for the civil war in the Sudan, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development process. It was based on a declaration of principles. Key among them was the recognition of cultural diversity and the need for religious tolerance in the Sudan. It stressed the need to create a secular state in the Sudan so that Sharia law can cease to be applied to the southern part of the country. Uganda stood ready to work with its neighbours to find a durable solution to the civil war in Sudan. But that could not be done without acknowledging its racial dimension.
Exercising his rights of reply, the representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo said that during the statement made earlier, the representative of Rwanda had said that the presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo of Rwanda was justified because of the need to pursue the perpetrators of genocide of 1994. That representative had further made assertions as to the reason the Rwandan armed forces were in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He refuted those allegations and made clear to the Conference that when the war began, it was the regular troops of Rwanda that controlled the eastern province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. No exact estimate had been made of the number of soldiers that had been captured or allegedly set free.
The world did know about the attempted hijacking of Congolese planes. The world also had witnessed daily aggression against the Congolese population. Rwanda had acted with total disdain for the United Nations Charter and the principles of State sovereignty and territorial integrity. The memory of the more than 3 million dead and the other atrocities committed by Rwanda, particularly the raping of women and young girls which had subsequently been infected with HIV/AIDS, meant that the international community could not sit silently and let the rostrum of the Conference be misused to spread lies when, in a globalized world, the truth was readily available. Rwanda's policy of exploiting resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo clearly revealed the truth behind the presence of the troops. The international community needed to recognize the illegitimacy of their military presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rwanda should pull out of his country.
ABDELFATTAH AMOR, Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance: Despite the efforts made internationally, there is a persistence of religious intolerance. In some regions, it even seems to be spreading. Such discrimination is exacerbated by racial, ethnic, linguistic or other prejudices. To address that aggravated discrimination, a strict legal definition needs to be found. Religion is frequently used as an alibi to give women a second-class status, which is clearly unacceptable from a view of human rights. That should be denounced at every possibility.
Preventing that phenomenon is just as important as controlling it. There is a need to improve dialogue between religions. Each religion believes it holds the divine truth. Education and school curricula play an enormous part in prevention. Many textbooks in schools depict others as threatening, and that can lead to distrust and discrimination. In November, there will be a meeting in Madrid that will address the issue of using schooling to combat religious intolerance.
Concerning the genetic revolution, the sequencing of the human genome could lead to behaviour that could lead to certain risks. The Universal Declaration on the Human Genome, endorsed by the General Assembly, may not be sufficient to deal with the risks in that area. That is not a theoretical issue. The international community should ensure that techno-science is not abused.
GABRIELA RODRIGUEZ PIZARRO, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants: Human rights violations of migrants result primarily from social exclusion and discrimination based on sex, race, ethnic origin, economic and social circumstances and nationality. In countries of transit and destination, migrants are particularly vulnerable, which affects their ability to integrate. Their physical and psychological well-being are also affected, as is their cultural identity. The marginalization and negation of their rights is exacerbated when they work in the informal sector and are hidden, for instance, as house cleaners.
A number of countries have seen a resurgence of racist movements, resulting in violence against migrants. Lack of regulatory legislation makes migrants vulnerable to actions of traffickers, sometimes with deadly consequences. During this Conference, we have to seize the opportunity to examine the question of how to protect migrants and fight prejudice. The Conference has acknowledged that migrants contribute to the economic, social and cultural development of the country of origin and the host country. It is essential to guarantee follow-up to the outcome of the Conference regarding migrants, particularly by the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
RADHIKA COOMARASWAMY, Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women: One can clearly see the intersection of race and gender. One such intersection is when women victims of violence approach the criminal justice system. Members of the system are often totally insensitive to poor women from the marginalized groups in society. Sometimes, as in upper-caste violence in India, members of the criminal justice system are often in league with the perpetrators of violence and turn away victims who are seeking recourse in the courts. In cases in the United States, racial profiling and race relations between the police and the Afro-American community result in police being totally insensitive to the needs of the community. In those circumstance that parallel other realities around the world, crimes of violence against poor women from racially diverse communities acquire a measure of impunity. Since violence against those women is rarely punished, women from such communities remain fearful and often do not take action to fight to vindicate their rights.
In the areas of trafficking, the intersection of race, gender, poverty and resulting violence becomes even clearer. Women from minority and caste groupings often want to migrate to escape persecution and discrimination at home. Their desire to migrate is exploited by traffickers, who themselves often belong to racially marginalized groups living at the fringes of the host community. At the point of entry, immigration officials racially profile women and subject many to interrogation and detention, all with the supposedly benign aim of fighting trafficking. Once in the host country, trafficked women live in slave-like conditions, without passports, working extended hours as sex workers, domestic servants and sweatshop labourers. We have heard a great deal about reparations for slavery of the past. We must also face up to modern forms of slavery, such as trafficking, where women are physically abused, restricted in movement and live under the menace of penalty.
In today's world, where most of the wars are ethnic in dimension, the intersection of gender and race during armed conflict often has horrific consequences. In Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda and East Timor, the international community witnessed atrocious crimes of sexual violence that have shocked the system into taking effective action against the perpetrators by setting up international tribunals of justice. Those tribunals and the Statute of the International Criminal Court make it clear that sexual violence during wartime is a war crime and a crime against humanity. Historical campaigns of waging war against the honour of the enemy by raping their women can no longer be tolerated. There must be an urgent call to all States to sign and ratify the Statute of the International Criminal Court.
FEKROU KIDANE, Director of the International Cooperation Department of the International Olympic Committee: We still live in a world full of human tragedies, where armed conflicts are increasing and victimizing primarily children and women, due to a lack of tolerance and dialogue. And yet, the sports arena remains the only place where the different ethnic, political and religious groups meet, either to play or watch a match. Sport is, in essence, the only language understood by all and is an important element which unifies a nation. Our daily life should look like the life of the world athletes, living in harmony in the Olympic Village during the Games. Our behaviour should be like that of spectators in a stadium, admiring and applauding the athletes of all nations in an athletic competition. Our vision of a global community should be like the French national football team, champions of the world, and composed of players of different racial and cultural backgrounds. Nowadays, the image of black people is better and positively projected in the world media through Olympic and world champions.
The Olympic movement can only use its goodwill and the rules of the Games to fight against racism, xenophobia and related intolerance. Even though it is a moral obligation and sacred duty for each one of us to promote peace and human understanding and fight against racial discrimination, those who retain political power should above all assume the responsibility of overlooking the fact that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is well interpreted and respected. That is why this Conference, in particular the drafting committees, should include in both documents a paragraph on sport and racism. Sport and diplomacy have common aims. Sport can finally serve diplomacy and, inversely, diplomacy can serve sport, yet everything depends on what human beings do for better or for worse.
BARNEY PITYANA, Designated Spokesperson of National Institutions: National human rights institutions and other relevant specialized institutions created for the promotion and protection of human rights have adopted the statement I will read today and which I will transmit to the Conference.
We acknowledge that throughout history, various forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance have created millions of victims. We recognize that such discriminations can be overt or covert, direct or indirect and that institutionalized or systemic forms of racism and discrimination continue despite our best efforts to eradicate them. At the same time, we must be careful to ensure that we identify and address all new manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Of particular concern are situations which risk escalating into genocide, ethnic cleansing or armed conflict. National institutions have a particular role to play in providing early warning of dangers in that regard.
We call for the elaboration of strategies, policies and programmes for persons and groups subject to multiple discrimination or whose experience with racism is compounded or aggravated by other forms of discrimination, including on the grounds of gender or other status. We will work to integrate gender perspective into our work to address racism and racial discrimination. We call on the international community, regional organizations, as well as the United Nations and its human rights treaty bodies and agencies, to act in a manner consistent with international standards relative to discrimination and intolerance. We further recognize that to combat racism and related intolerance, the political will of States is indispensable and that States have the primary responsibility to adopt and rigorously implement adequate criminal, civil and administrative measures to condemn racist acts, prohibit discrimination and provide victims with effective resources.
ALFRED NSOPE, Chairperson of the Malawi Human Rights Commission: The Commission convened a national consultative meeting to debate the issues raised in this Conference's draft Declaration and the Programme of Action. At the meeting, the forum agreed with the proposal that the starting point for dealing with the issue of racism is the recognition and admission by all of us gathered in Durban that slavery, the slave trade and the other forms of servitude, conquest and colonialism were the primary sources and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The Conference should make an outright condemnation of the injustices that were committed, particularly against Africans and indigenous peoples, as a unique and appalling tragedy in the history of humanity. It was a crime against humanity.
The consultative meeting also affirmed the Declaration's proposal that the Conference should not only look at historical injustices, but also should take on the challenge of analysing contemporary forms of racism, discrimination, exclusion and intolerance that has surfaced because of inequitable political, economic, cultural and social conditions in the emerging democracies of the world. The Commission urges the Conference to affirm that genuine democracy -- transparent, responsible, accountable and participatory governance responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people -- is the recipe for the effective prevention and elimination of all forms of racism and racial discrimination.
MICHELLE FALARDEAU-RAMSAY, Representative of the Canadian Human Rights Commission: The Conference has brought together some 15,000 representatives of governments, non-governmental organizations, indigenous peoples, members of parliaments, private sector actors and national human rights institutions. We need to ensure that all can find a place to express their views and tell their stories. Far too many are still victimized because they belong to a particular group or because of the complex interplay of multiple discrimination, whether on the grounds of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, language of social or economic status. Every country in the world experiences racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the final documents of the Conference need to reflect the full diversity of experience of people around the world.
National human rights institutions have worked hard over the past few days to ensure that the Conference does not close without having reached practical measures to address racism and related intolerance. Included in the draft Declaration and Programme of Action are a range of positive, forward-looking measures which could make a difference for victims of racism and related intolerance. Those measures are not necessarily big issues which are attracting media attention surrounding the Conference. They include teaching tolerance in our schools, positive reflections of diversity in our media and ensuring that covert or systemic racism in the workplace is addressed -- smaller issues perhaps, but vital to the daily struggle against racism. The results of the Conference risk becoming hollow words on paper unless governments, non-governmental organizations, indigenous peoples and human rights institutions are vigilant in working together to ensure concrete follow-up mechanisms.
MORTEN KJAERUM, Director, Danish Centre for Human Rights: Racism in Europe is a harsh reality for millions of citizens and inhabitants of our continent. Categories like culture, religion and language now form an integral part of racial discrimination. Refugees and immigrants are a prime target of xenophobia alongside indigenous and minority groups, such as the Roma, Sinti and Travellers.
We sincerely hope that an outcome of this Conference will be a strengthening of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination by making adequate resources available to the work of the Committee and by States actively considering the Committee's recommendations and conclusions. To hinder racial discrimination and intolerance from leading to entrenched social divisions, I wish to underscore the importance of fostering a culture of human rights. Human rights education plays a key role in that, and must be strongly emphasized. National institutions will make the follow-up to this Conference a central priority at their upcoming sixth international conference in Copenhagen in April 2002.
DRISS DAHAK, President, Human Rights Consultative Council of Morocco: The Council has been in existence for 11 years and has played, and is playing, a crucial role in the enhancement and protection of human rights in Morocco, from the legislative, implementation and educational viewpoints. Its statutes have recently been modified with a view to extending the Council's competence and the participation of civil society in the spirit of consolidation of the rule of law. The Council's main tasks are not confined to dealing with current human rights issues, but also to have a forward-looking approach in order to develop and inculcate a culture of human rights, particular those of women, children and the disabled.
Morocco enjoys a long-standing situation of tolerance, openness, mutual understanding and respect for cultural diversity. The Council is trying to ensure the rights of Moroccans who have migrated to neighbouring countries, particularly in the European Union, and who are sometimes the victims of xenophobia and discrimination. That is done by urging those countries to implement the human rights conventions, but also through relying on our collaborative and friendly relationship with the human rights national institutions and non-governmental organizations of the countries of immigration. Within the Mediterranean basin and among Arab States, the Council takes a keen interest in strengthening its ties of cooperation with a view to combating all forms of discrimination and enhancing the promotion of human rights, particularly in Palestinian occupied territories.
KOMI GNONDOLI, President of the National Human Rights Commission of Togo: Despite considerable efforts, there has been a resurgence of racism and xenophobia. You just have to open your eyes to see it. Togo is aware of the evils of racism and xenophobia, and has undertaken several steps to combat it, including ratifying several international human rights treaties. Any person living in Togo is guaranteed to have their most basic human rights and fundamental freedoms protected. Racist acts and racist behaviour is prosecutable by law.
But having criminal punishments in your domestic law does not go far enough. Governments have to implement provisions of the international treaties in their domestic legislation. There needs to be greater education and awareness, which will lessen the scourge of stereotyping and discrimination. Public campaigns can teach about acceptance and the importance of diversity. Togo organized an international workshop last month that promoted information and awareness, in which all important players from government, civil society, non-governmental organizations, the military and various other actors participated. The workshop offered several recommendations, including one that called for countries to establish effective training programmes in promoting the values of mutual acceptance. Those recommendations are the starting point down a long road in which the Government pledges to implement the decisions approved by this Conference.
GASANA NDOBA, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Rwanda: During the run-up to the Conference, the Commission identified a set of recommendations on the draft Declaration and Programme of Action. Chief among those was that the Declaration made no comment on the outcome of the inquiry into United Nations actions during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. That inquiry was headed by the Prime Minister of Sweden, Ingvar Carlsson. It was also supposed to include information on the Secretary-General's plan to identify coordinated actions against genocide. It is our belief that the information was not included in the document because it does not exist.
Still, it is our conviction that all is not lost because the Conference has the authority to develop the dynamism that could fill that void. It all begins with words. To combat genocide, we must start by calling it by its name. I would also emphasize that other horrific crimes against humanity, such as the Holocaust and apartheid, are well recognized for the evils that they are. The time has come to add another name to our international conscience for the horror of genocide: "itsembabwoko". That word comprises the Rwandan terms for "exterminations" and "ethnic group". It was coined by Rwandans immediately after the genocide to identify the unspeakable. It is a term I put to you, as it constitutes the understanding of the unique nature of the situation in Rwanda. It also represents a tool to prevent the crime of crimes, the most extreme expression of the scourges we are addressing here.
JUSTIN RAKOTONIDINA, President, National Human Rights Commission of Madagascar: Racism is a blatant denial of human rights. Our Commission supports clear positions and makes combating those serious violations its priority. Racism is a violation of existing international instruments and leads to denial of the universality and indivisibility of human rights. Human rights are inseparably linked to the fight against poverty and the struggle for democracy. Racism is nothing more than a denial of those unbreakable links.
The Commission, on the external level, seeks to harmonize what we do locally with the treaty bodies of the United Nations and other institutions worldwide. We also seek to mobilize international support for our national human rights efforts. On the national level, our priority is to strengthen coverage of non-governmental organizations. Another priority is education in human rights. Recently, it has organized seminars for the police of Madagascar and senior officials of the prison system.
AURORA NAVARRETE-RECINA, Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines: We would like to believe our Government's position that there is no racial discrimination in the country. However, after conducting a nationwide survey on the situation of indigenous peoples, we have concluded otherwise. We found issues of discrimination against approximately 15 million indigenous peoples. Our research shows that the Philippine Government has enacted several laws, formulated a number of policies and has put in place an institutional framework in pursuit of its constitutional mandate and in implicit fulfilment of its commitment to international conventions and treaties. However, the study reveals that there are gaps between laws and policies on the one hand, and the practices and capability of the institutions to fully implement those. Moreover, the general public consciousness and perceptions of indigenous peoples, as well as their attitudes and behaviour towards them, reflect a lingering systematic prejudice and discrimination, with roots in the distant colonial past.
Given the fact that we are now in so-called borderless economies, the challenges to human rights also know no boundaries. Like other developing countries, the Philippines supplies the richer countries with millions of skilled, well-trained and educated workers. It is, therefore, a rich source of migrants. As a protective measure, we recommend that countries hosting migrant workers should set up human rights offices. Those offices should function under the respective national human rights institutions.
EDUARDO CIFUENTES, Ombudsman Office of Colombia: Colombia is going through one of the most difficult periods in its history. People are being intimidated daily, and indigenous peoples and people of African descent are among the most harassed. It is important for us to address the problems related to racism. It is crucial that a platform be provided for people to make known the problems they are facing on a daily basis. There is the need for new practices that foster respect for diversity. There is also the need for an admission that slavery was a crime against humanity. States should guarantee the full and effective participation of victims of racism in drafting protections in their domestic laws.
Tragically, mankind has rejected the need for apologies for past injustices. There needs to be a unanimous declaration expressing regret for slavery. Until then, mankind cannot be truly free.
FAIUZ MUSTAPHA, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country. Our island is the home of followers of all the four major religions of the world. Our country has been a fertile field for cultural cross-pollination, being open over the years to the influences of our neighbours and a succession of colonial Powers. We are a plural society and are facing the challenges of diversity. Sadly, we are also witnessing an ongoing armed conflict.
The consensus among the national human rights institutions, arising from our deliberations, is that there has to be an effective legal regime to combat racism. But we are also conscious of the fact that judicial and administrative remedies by themselves will not suffice. They must be supplemented by education and persuasion designed to advance human rights, values to effectively counter racism and other forms of intolerance. We are also cognizant of the fact that poverty arises from, and accentuates, racial differences. Therefore, we urge affirmative action for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.
UCHE OMO, Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria: For Africa, the current state of development is directly tied to the crimes committed during the slave trade, and compounded by colonialism and present day neo-colonialism. The National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria calls on the Conference to demand reparations, not necessarily in terms of monetary compensation to individuals -- even though that was recently done to victims after the Second World War -- but in the cancellation of the crippling debt burdens imposed on African nations by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and related agencies, accompanied by massive aid targeted at substantively providing unfettered development to the victims and their descendants, wherever they may reside. We support institution-building, not individual cash payments.
National institutions like ours must resolve to form pressure groups to assist our nations in drawing up concrete measures of prevention, education and protection aimed at the eradication of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance at national, regional and international levels.
SOLOMON NFOR GWEI, Chairman, National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms of Cameroon: Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance have weighed so heavily on many members of our human family that we consider them as crimes against humanity. Many victims of those evils have great expectations of this Conference. It is therefore our greatest hope that on our return these victims will see a bright future for them and for all mankind, based on the positive concrete plan of action that will be adopted at the end of the Conference.
Our Commission and other national institutions are ready to go to work immediately to face the enormous challenges of uprooting the scourge or racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance from our society, if our governments will support us with the necessary financial, material and human resources. We also ask the Conference to provide the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights with adequate financial, material and human resources to enable her to implement the Programme of Action.
GREGORY FORTUIN, Race Relations Conciliator of the Office of the Race Relations Conciliator of New Zealand: The statement by the National Institutions is particularly relevant for New Zealand at this point as the present human rights structure is currently being reviewed to create a stronger human rights body which will enhance the organization's ability to better promote and protect human rights. A significant outcome will be to strengthen the role of the race relations commissioner and allow greater flexibility in dealing with multiple discrimination. Although New Zealand has had an institutional framework for dealing with racism and racial discrimination for over 30 years, it is premature to be complacent about the present level of racial tolerance.
New Zealand is a treaty-based, Pacific nation. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the Crown and the Maori chiefs, but was largely abrogated until the 1980s, when it became obvious that New Zealand would only be able to move forward and develop as a nation if an attempt was made to address historic inequities. In New Zealand, righting the wrongs of the past was never going to be an easy task. There has been criticism of unfairness and bias by non-Maori, which makes it important to agree on an approach that is acceptable to all New Zealanders. However, one must guard against the tyranny of the majority and ensure that justice and equality are not compromised. Informed debate and educational initiatives promoting a tolerant and inclusive approach will be fundamental in that. Productive public debate is integral to the role of a national institution and, properly used, one of the most effective.
WILLIAM JONAS AM, Acting Race Discrimination Commission of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission of Australia: National institutions which reflect the Paris Principles are independent advocates for human rights. My Commission urges all States parties to establish, where they do not exist, national institutions with responsibility for combating racial discrimination, and for all States parties to equip national institutions with adequate powers, expertise and financial resources. National institutions should be empowered to deal effectively with individual complaints about discrimination, to implement effective preventive strategies, including community education, and to make inroads into systemic and institutionalized discrimination by means of public inquiries and recommendations for reforms. National institutions are essential as a focal point for governments, non-governmental organizations, international agencies and civil society in addressing racism and in building partnerships to that end. We urge all nations that have established human rights institutions to commit to strengthening their capacity to fulfil that role at both the international and domestic level. To that end, we encourage the Conference to include in the Programme of Action concrete measures for the greater participation of national human rights institutions at the international level.
We are concerned, however, that the Declaration and Programme of Action, as they currently exist, do not reflect the full reality of indigenous people's lives. A major obstacle to the full realization of equality and inclusion of indigenous peoples is that emphasis among States and in the United Nations system on individual rather than collective rights to land and resources, self-determination and autonomy, development and to practice culture.
MARTINE VALDES-BOULOUQUE, Vice-President, National Consultative Commission for Human Rights, France: We are involved in fighting racism, particularly in the area of education and protection aimed at eradicating racism. The Commission is required to submit an annual report to the French Government on the state of racism in France. After presentation, the report is immediately made public. Thus, for 11 years, the Commission has been presenting a report on the state of racism and xenophobia in France, as well as on the measures taken by the Government and civil society in the fight against them. It draws on several elements to measure the phenomena, including police statistics, judicial statistics and public opinion polls. It also contains specific studies, such as the spread of racism on the internet and discrimination in the workplace and in housing, among others.
We also provide expert opinions to the Government on draft laws and policies. The Commission has established a subcommission on racism and xenophobia which meets once a month. The subcommission brings together Government officials with representatives of civil society who have direct knowledge of concrete manifestations of racism and xenophobia in the field. The reports and the studies are widely distributed and also disseminated on the Internet. They promote public awareness, and mass media report extensively on them.
Right of Reply
The representative of Sudan, exercising the right of reply, said the representative of Uganda, in his right of reply, had repeated the same historical errors as the President of Uganda in his statement. The struggle in Sudan began in 1955. However, the current struggle began in 1983. Uganda provided assistance to the Popular Army in the south of Sudan. Sudan has all the evidence of that in its possession. There is a training centre for rebels in Uganda, and the rebels in Sudan receive military and financial assistance through that base. He was not aware that Uganda had stopped the massacres in the Great Lakes region. On the contrary, the Ugandan President had been described as the African Hitler.
Calling the conflict in Sudan a religious conflict is meaningless and not founded. Uganda knows this very well. Cultural and religious freedom in Sudan is respected under the 1998 Constitution. Uganda should read that Constitution. The President of Sudan is from the south and is a Christian. Sudan constantly seeks to have good relations with Uganda, but Uganda is breaching the bilateral cooperation.
* *** *