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
RD/D/39
5 September 2001

Plenary
PM Meeting

NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS ADDRESS CONFERENCE

AGAINST RACISM FOR FIRST TIME

More than a dozen non-governmental organizations this afternoon addressed the plenary session of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance for the first time, urging effective action on behalf of the millions of people across the globe who suffer from a wide array of discriminatory practices on a daily basis.

The non-governmental organizations (NGOs), from all regions of the world, have had a massive presence in Durban since the Conference opened last Friday, approving an NGO Declaration and Programme of Action in a parallel event last weekend. In addition, an International Youth Forum was held, which also adopted its own Declaration.

Presenting the NGO Declaration and Programme of Action to the Conference, the representative of the International Steering Committee said the documents reflect the diverse voices of the victims of racism. They reaffirmed many rights that have been referred to during the Conference's discussions, including the rights of indigenous peoples and to self-determination, and expressed concern about the multiple forms of discrimination suffered by women. The document stated that scourges such as racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia are based on ideological constructions that assign certain groups a position of power over others, and said the growth of aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism as expressions of racism and xenophobia can lead to large-scale human rights violations, discrimination and persecution of targeted groups.

The International Youth Committee detailed its Declaration, pointing out that it addressed issues of education and employment; health; environment; justice; poverty and economy; media and information technology; minority rights; multiple forms of discrimination; colonialism, foreign occupation and new forms of apartheid; and slavery, the slave trade and reparations. Those issues, its representative said, should be addressed in the Conference's final documents.

The representative from the Sexual Orientation Caucus asked the Conference to include in its own Declaration and Programme of Action explicit language condemning discrimination based on real or perceived sexual orientation. People facing such discrimination, she said, face intimidation, torture, abduction and death. Many of them had contributed to every aspect of society, and the loss of their contributions through violence affects the entire global community.

The Religious and Spiritual Caucus expressed deep regret for the part religion had played in the perpetration or acceptance of racism, and pledged to rectify the mistakes of the past. It was aware of the reconciling power of forgiveness -- both in the asking and the granting. Religious and spiritual communities can play a leading role in conciliation by providing support and guidance, and restoring dignity to those who suffered from discrimination.

The Indigenous Peoples Caucus implored the Conference to strike sections from the proposed Declaration that directs such populations to negotiate their territorial integrity with the States in which they lay. The territorial integrity of all States is already firmly protected in international law. Only the human rights of indigenous peoples are now being subjected to that restriction.

Representatives of the Governments of Australia, Senegal and Mexico made short statements, responding to the interventions of the NGOs.

In addition, China and Mauritania exercised rights of reply.

The representative of Turkey also spoke.

Also addressing the session this afternoon were the representatives of the Fiji Human Rights Commission; Senegal Human Rights Commission; Office of the Public Defender of Venezuela and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice of Ghana.

The meeting also heard from the representatives of the following non-governmental organizations: Women's Caucus; Linkage Caucus; Educational Caucus; International and Ecumenical Caucus; Disability Caucus; African Descendents Caucus; Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy; Organization for Defending Victims of Violence; Centro de Culturas Indias y Taller Permanente de Mujeres Indineas Andinas y Amazonias del Peru (CHIRPAQ); Mehr White Home; Suara Rakyat Malaysia; and Centre for Development Alternatives.

Earlier in the plenary, the Conference adopted a report of the Credentials Committee.

The Conference will return to plenary session at 10 a.m. on Thursday to continue hearing from NGOs.

Statements

The representative of Turkey said Cyprus was established in 1960 in accordance with international treaties. Its Constitution, which provided the guarantees in those agreements, was based on partnerships between Turkish and Greek Cypriots. The Greek Cypriot side abrogated the Constitution by force in 1963. Turkey and Turkish Cypriots have never accepted that. They considered themselves equal partners. There is no single authority that represents both groups, or consequently, Cyprus as a whole. The Constitution, since 1963, has covered only Greek Cypriots. Turkey's presence and participation in the Conference should not be construed as a recognition of Cyprus by Turkey.

SHAMEEM SHAISTA, Director of the Fiji Human Rights Commission: Prejudices based on ethnic or national origin, colour, language, religion and difference are notoriously difficult to eradicate. But we cannot deal with prejudices of people only, or the negative ideas they hold about each other. Such prejudices can be dealt with by long-term strategies, such as education and the use of the media in changing people's attitudes.

The real problem is when States or governments give effect to such prejudices by translating them into government policy. That creates an environment and an opportunity for individuals or groups, and indeed for the State itself, to validate the prejudices which could so easily have been eradicated by a different type of State policy altogether -- one that celebrates difference and diversity rather than condemning them.

The Fiji Commission has undertaken specific tasks and formulated concrete recommendations both in the interim and as follow-up strategies to reconstruct race relations in Fiji after the attempted coup of 2000, which highlighted racial discrimination practices in Fiji. Delegates at a national race relations seminar entitled "Reconstructing Race Relations in Fiji" resolved to accept the concept of equality while affirming the importance of indigenous rights as human rights, noting that those rights should not be misconstrued in order to foster prejudice, racial discrimination and injustice.

ALIOUNE NDIAYE, Permanent Secretary of the Senegal Human Rights Committee: The Committee was developed in 1970, and given legal status in 1997. We solemnly reaffirm our commitment to the Johannesburg Statement on National Institutions. Our legal efforts have not been enough to stop the evil of racism, so efforts in education need to be improved. The UNESCO Declaration on race says all human beings belong to the same species, come from the same stock and are all important to humanity. The slave trade was a unique atrocity that resulted in millions of victims and put Africa into poverty. That indeed was a crime against humanity. The requests for forgiveness -- from President Clinton and the Pope -- were welcomed, but they need to be followed up with recognition that that was a crime against humanity.

Racial prejudice drives alarming racist propaganda on the Internet, and among pressure groups in an increasing number of Western countries. People, countries, and communities suffering from war have always requested, and received, reparations for their suffering. Jews suffered the Holocaust and received reparations. Such reparation could be made in the form of direct foreign investment, or in debt forgiveness.

GERMAN SALTRON NEGRETTI, Director General and Public Defender of Venezuela: Our innovative Constitution is one of the most advanced in terms of human rights. That is most important as our society comprises three main groups: indigenous peoples, blacks and whites. All have equality before the law. In civil society, however, there is some evidence of racism and discriminatory attitudes, particularly in the media. We are actively seeking to condemn and eliminate all forms of racism. We have also striven to ensure the right of ownership to the lands of our indigenous populations. We must also strive to ensure that we put into practice the principles enshrined in our Constitution. We believe that combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance begins with respect for human rights for all. It is our hope that the Conference will adopt a Programme of Action that will strengthen human rights and preserve diversity and dignity, thus making the world a better place for all.

KENNETH ATTAFUAH, Director, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice of Ghana: Slavery, the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism are manifestations of racism based on evaluation, ranking, denigration and exploitation as a result of differences in skin colour. The commercialization and outright sale of a human being is the ultimate objectification and denigration of the person, violating the mind, body and soul; unquestionably a crime against humanity. And the criminality of slavery must be laid bare, just as the criminality of apartheid and the Jewish Holocaust were. The Commission stands in solidarity with all African and Aboriginal peoples -- wherever they are -- as well as all peoples suffering under racial and ethnic domination and discrimination, in their just struggles for freedom, justice and appropriate remedies.

In Ghana, the phenomenon of racism manifests itself most commonly and acutely in the form of exclusion, rejection, isolation and discrimination based on tribe or ethnicity. We devoted much energy to elimination of the canker of tribalism. We have undertaken various educational programmes on the issue, particularly through workshops and media initiatives. Our efforts are also aimed at teaching chiefs and other traditional rulers, community-based organizations and youth groups, the principles and skills for effective community mediation, conciliation and peace-building. We would like to recommend for the serious consideration of National Human Rights Institutions the undertaking of activities, including working with governments to integrate human rights, anti-racism and diversity in school curricula and the development of institutional early warning systems to detect potential inter-group conflicts and take appropriate action to avert them.

INTERNATIONAL STEERING COMMITTEE: The Non-Governmental Organization Forum, held last week in Durban with more than 6,000 participants from 2,000 NGOs, marked the first time that NGOs, indigenous people, and other sectors of civil society came together to address the issues of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Although a difficult process, a Declaration and Programme of Action were adopted, both of which reflect the diverse voices of victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

The first part of the NGO Declaration, reaffirms that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and inalienable, and that all human beings are entitled to all those rights, irrespective of distinction. We recognize the richness of diversity of cultures, languages, religions and people, and the potential within that diversity to create a world free from racial discrimination, genocide, slavery, xenophobia and intolerance. Such scourges are based on ideological constructions that assign certain groups a position of political, economic or social power over others. The Declaration acknowledges the growth of aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism as expressions of racism and xenophobia. That can lead to large-scale human rights violations, discrimination and persecution of targeted groups. It also affirms the rights of indigenous peoples, and as well as the right to self-determination of all peoples, among them the Kurds, Tamils, Tibetans and Roma. In addition, the Declaration affirms the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, statehood, independence and freedom, and the right to return.

The second part -- the Programme of Action -- recommends legal measures that should be addressed by the United Nations and Member States, among them slavery and the slave trade, reparations, work and descent, migrant workers and trafficking. Those two documents reflect the diversity of voices in that process, and what each victim feels, experiences and hopes for. That is a legitimate voice, and it is hoped that States use the NGO Declaration and Programme of Action for the final adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action for the Conference. The NGOs demand policies and programmes that effectively address the intersectional nature of the multiple forms of racism and discrimination.

INTERNATIONAL YOUTH COMMITTEE: We have drawn up the Declaration of the International Youth Committee which addresses the issues of education and employment; health; environment; justice; poverty and economy; media and information technology; minority rights; multiple forms of discrimination; colonialism, foreign occupation and new forms of apartheid; and slavery and the slave trade -- compensation and reparations.

We demand that governments acknowledge and observe legal instruments to ensure the human rights of all people. As a follow-up to this Conference, we recommend: that a special unit be created as part of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, dealing with racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, with a specific youth unit; that States adopt effective methods to discourage sex trafficking and labour practices that are exploitative of young people; that all States declare slavery as a crime against humanity and that all States that benefited economically in the slave trade take concrete measures to compensate the enslaved people and their descendants. The debts of Africa, Caribbean, Latin American and Asian governments must be cancelled.

We call on States to financially and morally support the creation and operation of an independent non-governmental, youth-driven global youth network to advocate youth issues in the framework of the Youth Declaration and Plan of Action. We also call for an annual monitoring mechanism to ensure that young people meet and exchange information about best practices in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. States should ensure that young people are fully supported in participating in the development and implementation of the 10-year review of the Programme of Action.

The representative of Australia, in response to the International Steering Committee, said that the Australian Government valued the role of NGOs in promotion and protection of human rights and welcomed the holding of the NGO Forum. It valued a great deal the document emerging from the Forum, but that value was diminished by unbalanced and extreme language, in particular, in reference to the Middle East. His Government deplored those references.

WOMEN'S CAUCUS: We recognize the dehumanization of racialized women throughout the world who have suffered multiple forms of discrimination under colonialism, slavery, indentured labour, ethnic cleansing, foreign occupation, armed conflict, the caste system, socio-economic marginalization through globalization, homophobia and trafficking in women. We call for the recognition of the intersection of gender and racism and acknowledgement of multiple forms of discrimination that continue to dehumanize racially marginalized women throughout the world. Redressing the simultaneous experience of intersectional forms of discrimination as described in paragraphs 81 and 82 of the draft Declaration is central to the outcome of this Conference.

Globalization has led to the extreme feminization of poverty. We note that this Conference is held in one of only two countries in the world that offers constitutional protection for people of diverse sexual and gender identities. We strongly assert that work and descent be included as grounds of discrimination. We emphasize that young women are particularly vulnerable to all forms of discrimination. We urge States to respect and promote women's freedom to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights and their rights to enjoy the highest attainable standards of health. Regarding HIV/AIDS, effective education, testing and affordable treatment must be provided. We stress the need to put an end to the continued stereotyping of women in the media, based on race, class, work and descent, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation and other categories. Those issues clearly show some of the many problems faced by women all over the world on a daily basis.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION CAUCUS: The most fundamental human right is the right to life, as articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in other United Nations instruments. People discriminated against on the grounds of race, ethnic origin and language, among other categories, are often denied that right because of racist and xenophobic violence. The right to life is also denied to people based on their real or perceived sexual orientation, health status or gender identity. Prejudice and intolerance lead to intimidation, torture, abduction and death. Many of those same victims of violence are also subject to discrimination due to race, gender, class, age or ethnic origin. Worldwide, many people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, have contributed and continue to contribute to every aspect of society. The loss of their contributions through intolerance-based violence diminishes the entire global community.

To put an end to that senseless loss of life, we strongly urge Member States to include language in the Declaration and Programme of Action explicitly recognizing forms of related intolerance and discrimination on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation, health status or gender identity. We urge you to make progress towards revising national and local legislation to de-criminalize sexual activity between consenting adults. We urge you to ensure States fulfil their international legal obligation to guarantee that no person is subjected to violence due to real or perceived sexual orientation, health status or gender identity. Member States are also encouraged to acknowledge the multiplicity of grounds for discrimination and to continue to work towards the full integration and participation of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In short, we urge you to remove the brackets for sexual orientation in the draft and to explicitly enumerate related grounds of intolerance.

LINKAGE CAUCUS: We are profoundly disappointed in what we feel is the token representation and participation of NGOs in this process. Those of us excluded from this room and building as well as those who are here and limited in time in our presentation lack direct input into documents. We affirm that slavery, the slave trade and colonialism are crimes against humanity. We demand that States adopt necessary measures to ensure the right to prompt and effective judicial and appropriate remedies, including reparations, to address racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, as well as effective measures designed to prevent their resurgence.

Globalization is a new form of colonization and imperialism and has as its basis the economic exploitation of land, resources and labour. It particularly impacts upon indigenous peoples, Asians and Africans and has created environmental racism and extreme poverty. Media and new information technology must not be used to communicate hate speech or contribute to stereotyping and negative racial profiling. We urge you to recognize the intersectional nature of multiple grounds of institutionalized discrimination such as age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, disablility, health status, descent, language, class, culture, religion, caste and untouchability.

RELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL CAUCUS: We believe that recognizing the spiritual dimension of problems of racism and multiple forms of discrimination may lead us to a more effective Programme of Action, if not action itself. We deeply regret the part played by religions in the perpetration or condoning of racism and its consequences, and pledge to rectify the mistakes of our past and to look into our hearts, to acknowledge the prejudices we may still carry. We are aware of the reconciling power of the act of forgiveness: both in the asking and the granting. Religious and spiritual communities can play a leading role in conciliation: to support, provide guidance and to restore the dignity of those suffering from discrimination.

We seek to move forward and foster harmonious relations between all ethnic, cultural and religious groups, thus educating ourselves to know and appreciate each other without fear. In order to achieve that, there must be freedom of religious and spiritual beliefs and practices everywhere in the world. Essential values for this century must include living with a sense of social responsibility and respect for diversity. Thus, the destructive cycle of intolerance, violence and revenge can be broken.

The representative of Senegal, in response to the International Steering Committee, said she appreciated the role that NGOs have played in this Conference. However, there should be a clarification. There was a reference to discrimination against the Griots. In Senegal, the Griots carry out a social function, and they are not subject to any discrimination. They are the guardians of the Constitution. They are the memory. The Constitution of Senegal is quite clear. There is no discrimination against them.

EDUCATION CAUCUS: Education must begin in the family and extend to all areas of the community. It must help individuals identify and adopt personal and social values that can guide their decisions, relationships and work, and assure their social, emotional and spiritual well-being. Young people need to develop a depth of character and self-esteem that gives them a sense of their own worth and value as well as that of others.

Learning methods and environments should respect the dignity, individuality and freedom of the learner from early childhood through to maturity in a process of life-long learning. World citizens of the twenty-first century deserve education that is relevant to their life situations and that can provide the skills enabling them to become reflective, innovative and critical thinkers. In order to enable individuals to achieve their full potential, education must address both mind and heart. The arts and cultural programmes can play a major role in breaking down barriers and bringing back joy, love and the celebration of life's rich diversity. An education system based on universal human rights is essential to preventing us from repeating the atrocities of the past, and to provide us with a vision of a future world where human rights will be the unwritten laws, followed naturally as a way of life.

INTERNATIONAL ECUMENICAL CAUCUS: Racism is a sin. It is contrary to God's will and is an affront to human dignity and human rights. We are clear that the transatlantic, transpacific and trans-Saharan slave trades and all forms of slavery constitute crimes against humanity. We believe that churches and governments must acknowledge their complicity with and participation in the perpetuation of racism, slavery and colonialism. That acknowledgement is critical because it can lead us to the necessary acts of apology, confession and repentance. Those are elements which form part of redress and reparations that are due to the victims of racism past and present.

Therefore, on the issues of slavery, colonialism, apartheid and reparations, we believe that it is essential for our churches and governments to acknowledge that they have benefited from the exploitation of Africans and their descendents, Asian and Asian descendents and indigenous peoples through slavery and colonialism. On the issue of Palestine, we are calling for an end to the Israeli occupation of the occupied Palestinian territories, the achievement of the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people, including the right of return and the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state. We also call for the recognition of the Dalits among victims of racial discrimination and for caste-based discrimination to be included in the list for source-based racism.

DISABILITY CAUCUS: During the run-up to the Conference, representatives of some States had questioned the inclusion of disability in the context of an event devoted to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Allow us to ask all of you -- including Africans, indigenous people, Asians, Roma, migrants and women -- who have already been acknowledged as being a part of this Conference by right, where are your members with disabilities? Not even the dedication of 1982-1992 as a Decade of persons with disabilities could convince all Member States of the need to recognize the rights of disabled persons and their capacities as citizens, workers, parents, migrants, professionals and artists. Neither were the voices of persons with disabilities strong enough to make the world understand the marginalization, disempowerment and seclusion they experience.

Today, you have the historical opportunity for redressing that by acknowledging the inalienable rights of persons with disabilities. We urge the United Nations, Member States, civil society and international institutions to acknowledge persons with disabilities as being a part of the world's population constantly subjected to multiple discrimination. We also urge you to implement all necessary policies and programmes that will permit persons with disabilities the full enjoyment of their rights and responsibilities as citizens of the world.

AFRICAN AND AFRICAN DESCENDANTS CAUCUS: We, in solidarity with United States NGO's representing the people of the United States, condemn the United States official delegation's withdrawal from the deliberations of the Conference. We also condemn the unwarranted diversion of so-called contentious issues into an informal discussion group, which appears to be a veiled attempt to arbitrarily and undemocratically adjust the language of the official documents to satisfy the demands of a few over the wishes of a majority. The great wealth of the United States, as well as that of many of its European allies, is founded on the transatlantic slave trade, slavery and colonialism. In addition, the history of the United States is replete with systematic and violent forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Yet the United States Government has shown contempt and disrespect for the people of colour in the United States.

Moreover, the United States Government has also shown contempt and disrespect for this Conference from its inception. We declare the United States Government's claims to be bogus, manipulative and insulting to the serious and legitimate concerns of millions of the world's people. Despite the United States withdrawal, we stand with the United States NGOs in demanding inclusion in official documents of language that addresses the conditions created by the racism perpetuated by the United States. We will lobby the governments at the Conference to remove the contentious issues from the informal discussion group so that those issues -- including reparations, the transatlantic slave trade, slavery and colonialism as crimes -- can be sent to the drafting working groups.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES CAUCUS (representatives from Africa, North America, Pacific, Arctic, Asia, Central-South America): This is sad moment for the status of human rights of indigenous peoples around the world. It appears that many or most governments of the world are now determined, through the means of two discriminatory paragraphs in the Declaration of this Conference, to impose inferior international human rights on all indigenous peoples of the world. The United Nations, the Conference and the Member States do not have the competence or mandate to undermine in that way the fundamental human rights of indigenous peoples, including our right of self-determination. The Declaration gives with one hand, but then takes much more with the other. It uses the world "peoples" about our indigenous peoples. But it then declares in Paragraph 27 that this important word has no implications for our rights in international law, which are made subject to future negotiations with Member States. The Declaration, in Paragraph 26, also makes our international human rights subject to the condition of the territorial integrity of States. The territorial integrity of all States is already firmly protected in international law. Only the human rights of indigenous peoples are now being subjected to that restriction.

Another representative said human rights are universal rights. All peoples are entitled to enjoy the highest standard of protection. That principle is well established in international law. Despite those pronouncements, it is a sad fact that 400 million people are denied the protection of human rights law. It is because a few States, and the United Nations system, fail to acknowledge that we are people. We are instead referred to as minorities or refugees. It was hoped, when we heard about Durban, that we would be welcomed into the new millennium with a new spirit of partnership. Those documents say if we are to enjoy human rights, it will be through negotiations with States. But human rights are not negotiable. In the world today, 90 per cent of the bloodshed occurs on the lands of indigenous peoples. This delegation has been calling for a world conference on indigenous people, and this Conference should recommend that a permanent forum on indigenous peoples should be established within the United Nations, with sufficient assistance. We have been told that this is not the time and place, we should be asking for the recognition of our rights. So when and where is the proper place?

The representative of Mexico, in response to the Indigenous Peoples Caucus, said Mexico was convinced of the necessity of recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and will work for recognition of those rights. It supports those rights and remedies for violation of indigenous peoples' human rights. Tenacity and constancy was needed to achieve that goal.

TIBETAN CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY (also on behalf of International Campaign for Tibet, United States, Worldview International Foundation, International Fellowship of Reconciliation): This joint statement relates to paragraphs in the draft Declaration that affect the lives of millions of people under foreign occupation, alien domination, colonialism and institutionalized racism. The Vice-Foreign Minster of China in his statement correctly pointed out that the heinous crimes caused by foreign occupation and colonialism should never be repeated. However, the conduct of the Chinese authorities in Tibet, Eastern Turkestan and Inner Mongolia, if judged from an independent analysis, involves the same crimes.

We appeal to the Conference that Tibet is a de facto colony of China and that Tibetans are denied their right to self-determination. Such factors place the problem of racial discrimination and related intolerances in Tibet in a category that warrants immediate scrutiny by the Conference. If country-specific references are made in the Declaration of this Conference, we request all delegations to include China for the widespread and institutionalized racism committed against the Tibetan people during the past 50 years. We extend our solidarity with the people of China who suffer various forms of discrimination under the present totalitarian communist regime. In particular, we express our deepest concern about the growing discrimination faced by internally displaced Chinese.

ORGANIZATION FOR DEFENDING VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE: Despite the fact that the international community is moving towards recognition of the inalienable nature of human rights and freedoms, the struggle against intolerance is still hampered by the actions and attitudes of a few nations who consistently exercise superiority over others. Even as we speak, the Palestinian people, particularly women and children, are suffering at the hands of an occupying Power. Zionism is a form of racism. We condemn the violence in the Palestinian occupied territories and call on the Conference to give that issue appropriate attention. We also call on the Conference to recognize globalization as a form of racism. Aside from the negative effects of the phenomenon, certain nations, particularly the United States, use globalization to maintain strategic dominance over others. The United States uses that dominance to wage extensive attacks on the traditional ways of life and cultural values of smaller countries. The Conference must recognize that as new and subtle form of discrimination, which manipulates social order and denies cultural diversity.

CHIRAPAQ (Centro de Culturas Indias y del Taller Permanente de Mujeres Indineas Andinas y Amazonias del Peru): From 1980 to 1995, Peru was afflicted by political violence in which the direct victims were the indigenous communities. More than 25,000 people died, and thousands more were orphaned and displaced. We are suffering from social exclusion in our country, where we are living as foreigners. There are more than 2 million people who suffer because they have had to leave our communities. We cannot and do not want to go to other countries.

MEHR WHITE HOME: Educational activities should aim at promoting mutual respect and understanding among and towards all human beings. A forceful strategy to educate children and adolescents to face a raceless world is the least the participating NGOs expect from this Conference. Otherwise it will conclude with repetitive statements and meaningless mottos. We hope that governments throughout the world will, as a result of this conference, implement an education plan of action specifically for youth and children as the most effective follow-up to Durban.

SUARA RAKYAT MALAYSIA: Race has been deeply institutionalized and practically every aspect of Malaysian life is permeated by the so-called affirmative action policies based on Malay-centrism. While affirmative action for the majority Malay population was indeed agreed to at independence in 1957, it was intended for a set period. That policy has been abused ever since the "New Economic Plan" was introduced in 1971. The dominant party, United Malays National Organization, practises a Malay-centric populism which discriminates against the ethnic minorities not only in the political and economic spheres, but also in educational and cultural policies. Racism and racial discrimination are also manifested in the way indigenous peoples are uprooted from their traditional lands and displaced to ill-planned settlement schemes. Migrant workers, including foreign domestic workers, also suffer racism and racial discrimination. Malaysian NGOs call on the Government to ratify all the international human rights instruments that it has not ratified.

CENTRE FOR DEVELOPMENT ALTERNATIVES: The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families is only four ratifications shy of entering into force. It creates new, stronger standards that benefit so-called "sending" States and migrant workers. It also offers protection against illegal immigrations to countries that receive migrant labour. All involved -- States and workers alike -- would gain from the Convention's efforts to curb the corruption, organized crime and trafficking in persons that currently plague the migrant labour market. We urge all States to make ratification of the Migrant Workers Convention a reality. We especially call on the eight States that sponsored a United Nations Commission on Human Rights resolution making ratification a priority, but who failed to sign the Convention, to do so now. The situation of internal migrant workers; the intersection of migrant labour issues with abuses by multinational companies; and remedies for the lack of consular notice in certain legal proceedings against workers must also be discussed in that forum.

Right of Reply

The representative of China, exercising a right of reply, said an NGO made inaccurate and inflammatory remarks. His delegation rejected those distortions on the basis of the following facts. China is a democratic society where the rule of the law is the national practice. China is a united family, where 56 nationalities, including the Tibetans, have lived for centuries, and will continue to in equality, harmony and common development. China is also a driving locomotive, where the economy is picking up speed in the urban and rural lands to the benefit of the entire population. It has an open-door policy where its citizens enjoy full religious rights, and people can come and go as freely as they wish. China is a stable stadium, where the 2008 Olympics will be held. Any attempt to degrade and split China will be to no avail.

The representative of Mauritania, exercising the right of reply, said the objectives of this Conference were of such importance that it should not be transformed into invectives. The International Steering Committee had drafted a statement for dubious purposes. The Committee had reported on the existence of trafficking and forced labour in Mauritania. The United Nations Subcommission on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights had determined in 1984 that such allegations are unfounded. Since then, a pluralistic democracy had been established. Access to primary health care was generalized. A law had just made education mandatory. All those efforts were part of combating poverty. Regarding human rights, a national plan of action was being drafted with the assistance of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Any interested observer was welcome to see the facts, because Mauritania was a transparent and open democracy.

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