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/18
31 August 2001


WORKING GROUP COMMENCES REVIEW OF DRAFT PROGRAMME OF ACTION
AFTER LENGTHY PROCEDURAL DISCUSSION


Approves Paragraphs on Development of Capacity-Building
Programmes and Access to Justice Systems for Those of African Descent

After a lengthy discussion on how to proceed with its review of the draft programme of action for the World Conference against Racism (document (A/CONF.189/5), the working group established to prepare the document for adoption by the Conference began reviewing those paragraphs not previously agreed upon.

At the meeting's outset, the Chairman of the working group, Bonaventure M. Bowa (Zambia), said that at the third preparatory meeting for the Conference, 105 paragraphs had been adopted; eight paragraphs were ongoing; and 116 paragraphs had not even been considered. He proposed that the group begin reviewing the paragraphs that had not been approved, and a number of governments supported that position.

Several delegations proposed, however, that the entire document must be reviewed, as the current meeting was not a preparatory meeting but a World Conference. Concerns were raised that if controversial issues were referred to informal working groups outside the main group, the process must be transparent, and everyone must be aware of the timing of discussions and have access to those deliberations. The working group then decided to refer this question to the General Committee.

After an extended discussion, the working group began consideration of the draft, beginning with paragraph 12 on the development of programmes for people of African descent. The group approved a text calling on "United Nations, international financial and development institutions and other appropriate mechanisms to develop capacity-building programmes intended for Africans and people of African descent".

The working group then considered paragraph 18, and after some discussion approved a text calling on "States to take specific steps to ensure full and effective access to the justice system for all individuals, particularly those of African descent".

The Working Group on the Draft Programme of Action will meet next at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 1 September.

* *** *