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/43
6 September 2001

Plenary
PM Meeting

CONFERENCE AGAINST RACISM CONTINUES TO HEAR CONCERNS
OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS


This afternoon, the Conference heard from 32 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) during the general debate of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, who covered a number of national concerns as well as problems in more general areas such as health care and social work. As the Conference moved closer to the adoption of its Declaration and Programme of Action, the NGO Forum caucuses detailed their wishes and objections.

While different perceptions of past and present wrongs made it difficult to find a common language, the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations stated, for NGOs the important thing was that their pleas were being heard and that they were all committed in different ways to form a global alliance against racism. However difficult the negotiations might be, the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations still believed the Conference would be a milestone in a process leading to a new era in which racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance would be tossed "into the dustbin of history".

The Minority Rights Group said the principles enshrined in the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was the foremost international instrument that should guide the work being done in the Conference. But to date, only 34 States had extended their citizens the right to petition to the Convention's monitoring body, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. That was a poor record, and particularly troubling since so many States during the past week had highlighted that instrument's importance.

NGOs representing indigenous peoples all asked for deletion of paragraph 27 of the Conference's draft Declaration, and many strongly objected to paragraph 26 of that draft, arguing that it would render indigenous peoples' rights subject to the territorial integrity of States, and would put limitations on indigenous peoples' right of self-determination.

The Eastern and Central Europe Caucus asked the Conference to recognize that in countries in transition an alarming growth of aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism is deeply embedded in historical prejudices and hatred towards ethnic and religious minorities. It urged States to speedily conduct investigations and persecution of war crimes in compliance with resolutions of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

The NGOs from all regions of the world have been a vocal presence in Durban since the Conference opened last Friday, approving an NGO Declaration and Programme of Action, which were presented to the President of the Conference yesterday.

The Conference, which opened last week and ends tomorrow, 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.

Also addressing the meeting today were Fundacion Ideas (Chile); International Confederation of Free Trade Unions; Fundacion Ecuatoriana de Accion y Educacion para la Promocion de la Salud; World Evangelical Fellowship; Saami Council; International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development; Professional Institute for Advanced Wound Recovery; International Federation of Social Workers; European Network against Racism; Sikh Human Rights Group; Asian and Asian Descendants NGO Caucus; Caribbean Caucus; International Criminal Justice Caucus; Race, Poverty and Globalization Caucus; Dalit Caucus; Palestinian Caucus; African Descent Women Caucus; Girl Child Caucus; Labour Caucus; Cultural Diversity Caucus; Asia Pacific Caucus; International Indian Treaty Council; Franciscans International; Interfaith International; Sovereign Union of Aboriginal Peoples of Australia; Congres Mondial Amazigh; CISM - Veneto; Inclusion International; Academia Mexicana de los Derechos Humanos and the World Sindhi Institute.

The Conference will meet tomorrow at 10 a.m. to continue its general debate.

Statements

FUNDACION IDEAS: I would like to thank the few delegations that are in the room. Perhaps they can go out and inform the others about the discussion. There is an institutionalized ideology of denying people their rights. In Latin America and the Caribbean, we want the ability to have full-fledged democracy. There is no development, but there is poverty. Poverty is racism and racism is poverty. The Conference is seen in our region as a significant success. The time has come to take affirmative action -- action that will allow people of African descent to partake in the governing and development of our nations. It is the indigenous people and the people of African descent who need to lead the struggle against racism. Yet they need to work with civil society. It is a struggle for all of our country -- for everyone. Civil society must help in drafting national plans of action against racism. But those plans should also include effective mechanisms to ensure that practices that work are implemented. It is those plans that will help us overcome racism.

INTERNATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF FREE TRADE UNIONS: Trade unions stand against racism and xenophobia. The working people of the world see first-hand the devastating consequences of racism. This Conference is an opportunity for every sector of society to committee themselves to a new series of actions and targets that will eradicate the scourge of racism and xenophobia. The road to Durban was difficult. Although many governments have pledged action, there have not been many results. Slavery and colonization caused racism that had devastating social and economic effects on those discriminated against. There has to be recognition of the past -- then and only then can this Conference be seen as a success. Those who seek or those who want to hold on to political power always exploit the immigrant issue, saying that those people are a threat to their jobs. That is what is being done by the Australian Prime Minister refusing refuge to the refugees waiting off Christmas Island. So much time and energy has been put into this Conference. If we fail to draw up a concrete and workable plan of action - one that includes strategies, one that has monitoring systems and mechanisms, and one that national governments pledge to implement, and one where resources are not wanting -- then all of this time and energy would be wasted.

FUNDACION ECUATORIANA DE ACCION Y EDUCACION PARA LA PROMOCION DE LA SALUD: The Conference is a unique event to affirm the indivisibility and universality of human rights. Even though the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is widely held as the foremost international instrument on the issue, we still witness various forms of discrimination as well as violations of human rights based on race, gender, ethnic origin or economic status, among others. That is why we need this Conference to explicitly list the victims of racism in its final Declaration. Those victims are waiting to be recognized by name. The Conference must also recognize the fact that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and homophobia and sexism directly affect health. It should also recognize the truly discriminatory nature of paragraph 27 of the draft Declaration.

WORLD EVANGELICAL FELLOWSHIP: We are here to say that, certain paragraphs in the draft Declaration -- those pertaining to slavery and other primary manifestations of discriminatory practices -- should contain a reference to repentance. While affirming the notion that religion, spirituality and belief play a central role in the lives of women and men, it would also serve to express atonement for the injustices committed against Africans and African-Americans. We call on all those who practised in or benefited from the great suffering they caused to show repentance. That show of repentance should include the provision of economic resources as well as educational or other programmes aimed at combating and eliminating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

SAAMI COUNCIL: The Council represents the indigenous Saami peoples of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola peninsula in Russia. I reiterate our strong objection to the presence of paragraph 27 in the Declaration. If that paragraph is allowed to remain in the outcome documents, the Conference has adopted a text that is in itself discriminatory. Paragraph 26 of the Declaration renders indigenous peoples' rights subject to the territorial integrity of States, which constitutes an unwarranted limitation on indigenous peoples' rights, including the right of self-determination, inconsistent with international law. The right to self-determination for indigenous peoples has already been recognized by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in its reports on Canada, Norway and Mexico. We urge States to stop ignoring the opinion of the United Nations treaty bodies and strongly move for the deletion of any reference to territorial integrity and sovereignty in connection to indigenous peoples' rights. The Conference should declare the unqualified right of indigenous peoples to self-determination. We welcome paragraph 251 in the Programme of Action that calls for the adequate funding of and an operational framework for a Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which will hold its first session in May next year. That paragraph cannot be interpreted in any other way than to call for the establishment of a separate secretariat for the Forum.

INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRATIC DEVELOPMENT: It is unbelievable that at a conference against racism, governments could accept paragraph 27 of the Declaration which is racist. Paragraph 27 is in contradiction with the definition of racial discrimination in article 1 of the International Convention against Racism and Racial Discrimination in All Its Forms. Indigenous peoples are being told, in that paragraph, that their human rights are not recognized. I plead with governments to delete racist paragraph 27. Do the right thing, or else you will bring shame on this entire process.

PROFESSIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED WOUND RECOVERY: The types of wounds we treat generally do not heal -- often the result is either amputation or death. The victims of those types of wounds are overwhelmingly the impoverished. International cooperation in providing health care should be in the final documents of this Conference. The NGO Forum mentions the link of health care and racism, and the good words in that document should not be overshadowed by a few objections. The United States decision to withdraw was a seemingly immature temper tantrum, and that it cannot address and atone for its past. This is where its atonement should be on display.

INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF SOCIAL WORKERS: Social work is a profession based on values of respect for the principles of human rights and justice. The Federation believes that all human beings are born equal in dignity and rights. Any doctrine of racial superiority is scientifically false. There is no justification for racial discrimination in theory or in practice. The realization of economic, social and cultural rights plays a massive part in the eradication of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance. Social workers actively promote reconciliation. We condemn all forms of racism. The social work profession is the only profession which works for the well-being of the individual, irrespective of race, gender, social status, ethnicity or any other distinction.

MINORITY RIGHTS GROUP: There had been much said during the Conference that political disagreement will impede the adoption of a comprehensive Programme of Action to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. But there is an even more dangerous possibility that what will be adopted will fall below existing standards or even undermine them. The principles enshrined in the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination are the foremost international instrument that should guide the work being done here. But to date, only 34 States have extended to their citizens the right to petition to the Convention's monitoring body, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. That is a poor record. And it is particularly troubling since so many States during the past week have highlighted that instrument's importance. With so few ratifications, that can only put a question mark on their real commitment to the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

EUROPEAN NETWORK AGAINST RACISM: Many decision makers at the European level are beginning to see the positive aspects of migration. Unfortunately, the European Commission language is more progressive than that of national governments. We are trying to create standards of legislations equal for all European citizens and to promote the idea that economic development of countries of origin of the migrants is also in the interest of host countries. We propose that migrants are not discriminated against on the basis of origin and that selective admission policies should stop. We should offer scholarships to create expertise and not cause a brain drain in developing countries. We should not allow globalization to open frontiers for capital and close frontiers for foreigners. Refugees come to our land and many die in their efforts to escape. They are denied basic freedoms, and only a tiny percentage gains refugee status. We call for observance of the human rights of refugees and abolishment of refugee camps.

SIKH HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP: Sikhs are a community with a distinct identity who have always challenged pressures of conformity and defended the freedom of conscience. In many countries, Sikhs face discrimination in employment, education and social interaction because of their practice of wearing a turban and maintaining unshorn hair. Existing national legislation and policies fall short of protecting the intertwined racial-cultural-ethnic-religious identity of the Sikhs. The category of religion does not adequately protect Sikhs. We ask the Conference to build the foundations of the future on principles of diversity understood around the world and to make the Sikhs fully inclusive within its deliberations.

CONFERENCE OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS IN CONSULTATIVE RELATIONSHIP: The subject of this Conference is about the way we all live. It challenges us because it is about universal intolerance, injustice and prejudice that produce untold suffering. NGOs have stepped forward during the Conference to give voice to the victims of racist structures, conduct and attitudes. Their compelling testimony and advocacy have given flesh and blood perspective to government discussions here. While different perceptions of past and present wrongs make it difficult to find a common language, for NGOs the important thing is that their pleas are being heard and that they are all committed in different ways to form a global alliance against racism. However difficult the negotiations may be, we still believe this Conference will be a milestone in a process which will lead to a new era in which racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance will be tossed into the dustbin of history.

ASIAN AND ASIAN DESCENDENTS CAUCUS: We call on the Conference to ensure that the Declaration and Programme of Action address the racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance that our communities have and continue to face. Those seeking to deny all minorities dignity and rights have consistently pitted Asians, Asian immigrants and their communities against other minorities. The concerns of Asian immigrants are particularly ignored by political leaders, resulting in the general feeling among host societies that they are insignificant or untrustworthy. Asians, Asian immigrants and their communities and descendents also suffer from exclusionary immigration policies that keep families from being reunited, violent hate crimes and continuous stereotyping in the media. We call on all States here to recognize those unique forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in the outcome documents.

CARIBBEAN CAUCUS: We propose that the Commission for Pan-African Affairs of Barbados is approached for assistance for a follow-up Conference on the anniversary of this one. We propose that reparations include, but not be limited to: establishment of an education fund aimed at eradicating racism; compensation for and/or return of all cultural property taken from Africa; cancellation of all debt owe by Africa, the Caribbean and all other affected countries; advocate the acknowledgement of transatlantic slavery as a crime against humanity requiring reparations as redress within international law; and development of the infrastructure of Africa. Regarding the United Nations, we call for a broadening of the Human Development Index to include a measure of racial inclusion and social cohesion, and for a code of conduct to ensure that all companies doing business with the United Nations conform to fair non-racial hiring practices. We urge that United Nations processes enforce transparency and accountability equally to all members, regardless of size or locality. We anticipate inclusion in the Programme of Action of proposals to enforce effective measures to eliminate racial profiling in the justice system.

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE CAUCUS: Racism and racial discrimination occurs in multiple forms and at all stages within the criminal justice and detention systems and leads to serious violations of fundamental human rights. We call upon governments to abolish the death penalty. Until abolition occurs, governments should implement a moratorium on executions. We also urge governments to hold accountable all law enforcement and correctional personnel and other criminal justice officers who engage in racially motivated torture, ill-treatment and other inappropriate behaviour. Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are also discriminated against within criminal justice systems, as they are unnecessarily detained, without access to diplomatic representatives, free legal representation and translation facilities. We endorse the proposal for the establishment of an international observatory, which we consider to be essential for all follow-up processes. We urge governments to commit themselves to the full realization of non-discriminatory criminal justice and penal systems, and equal access to justice for all.

RACE, POVERTY AND GLOBALIZATION CAUCUS: It is essential for governments to recognize that current processes of globalization are built upon historic and current discriminatory and exploitative policies and practices that reinforce racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. As a result, the benefits of globalization are unevenly shared, while the costs are inequitably distributed. The poor and marginalized, the majority of whom are racial and ethnic minorities, in both the North and South, bear a disproportionate share of the costs. Governments must also acknowledge that the multilateral institutions promote a type of globalization that depends on the historic and existing racial and economic inequalities. Further, the private sector, including transnational corporations, is a major force in contemporary forms of economic globalization, particularly trade and investment, and the privatization of services.

DALIT CAUCUS: The issue that we are concerned with affects 260 million voiceless victims who continue to suffer from extreme forms of segregation, violence and exploitation because of their low-caste and outcast status or because of other forms of discrimination based on work of descent. Those suffering from that form of discrimination come from Asia, Africa, and from countries with significant South Asian diasporas. Only one paragraph in the Programme of Action, as it currently stands, addresses the specific situation of those millions. No reference to that vast and global phenomenon can be found in the draft Declaration. Prior to the World Conference, many United Nations bodies confirmed that caste-based discrimination is a form of racial discrimination. In addition, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson have also voiced support for discussion of work and descent at this Conference.

PALESTINIAN CAUCUS: Palestinians have been seeking an opportunity to have their daily sufferings from racism discussed here. Instead, attempts have been made to delete references to the Palestinian conflict in the outcome documents or to water them down. Israel's ongoing violations of Palestinian rights are not perpetrated in a vacuum. It is in the interest of the international community to tackle Israel's violation for reasons of peace and security. As in the case of apartheid, Israel's policies are destabilizing the entire region and are a threat to world peace. Our common humanity demands that that racism and apartheid system, a crime against humanity, be combated. Naming Israel and its racist practices is not being anti-Jewish. Palestinians within the occupied territories have suffered from a colonial military occupation. We condemn the application of discriminatory laws of return which deny the right of return and compensatory measures to Palestinian refugees. Israel's crimes have included acts of genocide, war crimes, methods of ethnic cleansing and the crime of apartheid. The victims of racism cannot be blamed for success or failure of the Conference by seeking to have their claims addressed. That responsibility lies with the governments. Failure of the Conference will deny the voice of the victims. We ask delegates not to allow certain governments to derail the proceedings.

EASTERN AND CENTRAL EUROPE CAUCUS: The Conference should recognize that in countries in transition an alarming growth of aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism is deeply embedded in historical prejudices and hatred towards ethnic and religious minorities. Our region knows too well how ethnic hatred escalates into armed conflicts, which perpetuate xenophobia and intolerance. We urge States to speedily conduct investigations and persecution of war crimes in compliance with resolutions of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and not wait for the establishment of the International Criminal Court. We draw attention to the plight of the Chechen people. We affirm that the Chechen people still suffer mass violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. That is about racism, because the military operations in Chechnya are accompanied by a wide-scale campaign to incite hatred toward the Chechens, which results in mass persecution of and discrimination against people of Caucasian ethnic origin living outside of the Caucasus.

GIRL CHILD CAUCUS: Girls are victims of many racist and discriminatory phenomena that directly affect their growth environments. Sexual predation, the effects of stereotyping in the mass media and preference of boys over girls all endanger development of girls. We recommend that the Conference adopt all of the recommendations of African regional meetings, which have highlighted the protection of the rights of all girls and the need for girl children to play active roles in their societies. We must ensure that we produce documents that heighten awareness of the problems of girl children, particularly those in Africa. Protect the girl children who will become the women of tomorrow.

LABOR CAUCUS: We are working men and women of all colours, ethnic origins, sexual orientations and levels of ability. We believe the Conference provides an unprecedented opportunity for the heads of State and government to address the past evils of racism. We also believe that anti-Semitism is unacceptable, regardless of wherever it rears its ugly head. We also support the struggle of the Palestinian people. We hope the Conference can contribute to a lasting peace in the Middle East. As an organization, we must also do our part. We must ensure that our members do not practice or engage in racism or discriminatory behaviour. We will ensure that our members work in environments free of discrimination and intolerance, and that employer organizations live up to their national and international commitments.

CULTURAL DIVERSITY CAUCUS: We declare that the Conference has, under the cover of the democratic system of the United Nations, developed governmental documents with racist content. We also declare that the Middle East conflict is not a racial conflict, but only a political-cultural conflict which is not relevant to the Conference. It is not true that Israel is committing genocide, ethnic cleansing, much less apartheid. The Conference has not blocked racist language from intergovernmental and non-governmental documents and has not respected human rights. We request the Conference to recognize the right of cultural diversity for each people and to respect and satisfy the petitions of the Indigenous, Jewish, African and Roma caucuses. We request the Conference: to reject the intergovernmental and non-governmental documents from this Conference; to affirm that slavery is a crime against humanity; to identify and denounce all countries, organizations and peoples where slavery, trafficking in human beings and trade in parts of human bodies is still practiced. We also request that the High Commissioner close the Conference and re-launched a new project against racism and slavery and for the right of cultural diversity.

ASIA-PACIFIC CAUCUS: In the Asia-Pacific region, numerous groups, including minorities, migrants, refugees, Dalits, trafficked persons, women and girls, indigenous peoples and people under foreign occupation, have been subjected to the most extreme forms of discrimination that this Conference was designed to address. Global economic trends, policies and related privatization in the region have impacted negatively on the situation and status of women and girls from ethnic, national and religious minorities, Dalit and indigenous groups. Globalization relies heavily on the exploitation of cheap labour, which is generally the labour of women and girls, putting women and girls from disadvantage groups to further economic disadvantage. The Conference should integrate a gender perspective into every aspect of discrimination examined. Globalization and the global division of wealth must also be considered in the documents. Intra- and inter-State armed conflicts in the region continue to cause militarization of the State and of civil society. In those conflicts, both State and non-state actors perpetrate gross human rights violations with impunity, including forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrest and forms of ethnic cleansing.

INTERNATIONAL INDIAN TREATY COUNCIL: The dominant society of the United States had tried to end our culture, but in the last 30 years, there has been a renewed interest in our culture. Although long hair is an important part of our culture, the California State Prison System bans long hair. That racist practice denies them their religious rights. Traditional religious practice helps imprisoned Native Americans -- those rituals help people heal spiritually. We have 44 Native Americans on death row. They need their traditional practices to pray and prepare to meet their maker. But prison officials deny them that in another act of racism. The death penalty itself is racist and immoral, and needs to be abolished.

FRANCISCANS INTERNATIONAL: Racism has expressed itself historically in myriad, tragic ways, and within every arena, women are suffering from multiple discrimination because of their gender. And the damage goes on. The industrial wealth and technological advantage of some nations have been built in significant part upon slave labour and colonial resources. As a result, the current processes of trade liberalization and globalization, compounded by excessive military spending, are exacerbating poverty. Justice demands that that situation be reversed. Human rights, essential social services, including access to health care and essential medicines -- especially for communities ravaged by HIV/AIDS -- must be given priority in the development process over the principles of economic liberalization and intellectual property rights.

INTERFAITH INTERNATIONAL (also on behalf of the Forum against Islamophobia and Racism): It is our hope that the Conference will take appropriate measures to prevent racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance toward religious or ethnic minorities. Religious intolerance exacerbates racism, resulting in violence and oppression. All States should protect the right of individuals to practice their own religion and beliefs, as well as the right for such individuals to participate in all aspects of society. We urge that all States adhere to United Nations conventions and covenants. We demand that all States undertake strong and effective measures to protect against stereotypical attitudes, prejudice and Islamophobia in the media and educational curricula which can lead to hatred and violence. We urge the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish a monitoring mechanism in that regard.

SOVEREIGN UNION OF ABORIGINAL NATIONS AND PEOPLES IN AUSTRALIA: It is unfortunate that the Australian Government for the last 50 years has failed to implement the Genocide Convention. A prerequisite to be a Member State of the United Nations must include full compliance with the Genocide Convention. Australia is racist, like Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa. In 1954, Aboriginals were forcibly moved from their land in Canberra. In 1992, Australia's claim to sovereignty was thrown out of the courts. The case proves that domestic legal systems cannot determine the sovereignty of Aboriginal peoples. Only the International Court of Justice can do that. If the United Nations is serious about ending racism, it should take the indigenous sovereignty issue out of the debate and refer it to the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion. Our resolve is to claim back our sovereign identity and our traditional lands and cultural heritage, with a clear unrestricted right to maintain our religious and spiritual practices. We have addressed many United Nations committees in search of remedies. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination labelled Australia "early warning and urgent action". Nothing happened. Since 1999, that Committee has condemned the Native Title Act as racist, as it validates non-indigenous titles to land, while depriving us of our inheritance. It is only a bundle of residual rights, not proper land rights.

CONGRES MONDIAL AMAZIGH: There needs to be monitoring and reporting of those who are committing racist crimes. There are nearly 40 million Amazigh people, and they are suffering from genocide. The culture of the Amazigh was almost wiped out in the Canary Islands, and the only culture that remains there is because Spain exploits it for its tourist industry. But very little money stays in the Canary Islands -- it mainly goes back to Spain. In countries of North Africa, there is an effort to eliminate the Amazigh language and instead teach Arabic. Tunisia and Libya prohibit any public expression of Amazigh, as does Morocco, even though the Amazigh are the majority and the Arab population is the minority. Arabic is considered the only civilized language. In Algeria, the same policy is relentlessly pursued. The Government has committed major crimes in trying to keep the Amazigh population down. Those States are practising daily what is apartheid daily. They praise economic, social and culture rights here in Durban, but they violate them back home. Here they are preaching peace and friendship. The documents from this Conference should condemn the North African States for discrimination against the Amazigh people. We are known for our legendary hospitality and tolerance, and we wish to live in peace.

CISM-VENETO: As an organization that coordinates the concerns and issues of immigrants from Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as Eastern Europe, we hope that the Conference takes the issue of immigrants and migrant populations into consideration in its outcome. Italy's experience with immigrants is varied. On the one hand, there were those industrialists that
welcomed the populations as a source of labour. But in civil society, immigrants were often seen as a threat. That assumption could not be more wrong. Immigrants to our country are an asset, working with, not against our citizens. We hope that Italy will be able to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Migrants and Members of Their Family. Migrants need to be recognized as a people who have their own rights and dignity. So much of the world is suffering from conflicts and natural catastrophes that a situation has developed where there is a huge need to explain what happened in the past. Reparations need to be made.

INCLUSION INTERNATIONAL: It appears that this is the first time that people with disabilities are mentioned in a United Nations document referring to racial discrimination. Some would say we should be satisfied with that breakthrough. However, for many years and in many societies, people with disabilities, especially those with intellectual disabilities, have been considered quite different from other members of society and, as such, have suffered and continue to suffer from primary discrimination. People with intellectual disabilities were the first people to be denied the right to family relationship, the first to be incarcerated in the psychiatric institutions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, among the first to be eliminated in the Nazi death camps, and the first to be targeted as "undesirable" by prenatal genetic testing. Despite the fact that people with intellectual disabilities can learn, they are commonly deprived of an education. Despite the fact that many of them can contribute to their community, they are deprived of decent work and a decent wage. Despite the fact that in most cases the disability is acquired rather than genetic, they are deprived of the right to have children. Civil and political rights are regularly denied. And if they protest such treatment, their behaviour is labelled pathological.

ACADEMIA MEXICANA DE LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS: This Conference was presided over by interests from all over the world to demonstrate the reality witnessed by people who had been made invisible by rich societies over the centuries. The devaluation of the aspirations of this Conference should not be allowed. The United States un-represented itself on grounds of language abuse concerning Israel, when this Conference in fact wished to discuss subjects of importance to all States. Intransigent attitudes should not be allowed to prevail. On the subject of reparations, the former colonial and slave-trading States must assume the consequences of their actions and the action of their ancestors. We reject paragraph 27 of the Declaration. We are grateful for support in the plenary of the NGO Forum in the agreement to reject recent legislation adopted by the Mexican Congress on indigenous cultures. They were constitutional reforms in the drafting of which indigenous peoples had not been involved.

WORLD SINDHI INSTITUTE: Sindhi history will show that we have never attacked anyone but we have been subjected to foreign invasion time and again. The indigenous Sindhi are discriminated against by racist Pakistani rulers in every aspect of life. Those in power look down on Sindhis. Theirs is the only province in Pakistan where the population has been diminished by harassment and violence -- the people there are the target of multiple racist abuses. They are witnessing gross violations of their human rights, the door of human rights has been closed in particular to Sindhi women. All cries against honour killings have fallen on deaf ears. Our mission here is to call for the elimination of paragraph 27 from the draft.

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