Revised text raises hopes for successful UN anti-racism summit, says official

18 March 2009 – The United Nations human rights chief today said she hopes the release of a shorter version of the draft outcome document for next month’s anti-racism conference will mark the necessary breakthrough to achieve consensus among States and lead to a successful summit.

The conference, to be held from 20 to 24 April in Geneva, will assess progress since the landmark 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in Durban, South Africa.

A working group made up of UN Member States has been negotiating a draft outcome document for next month’s meeting, which High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has acknowledged has been the target of criticism by those who fear a repetition of the anti-Semitic outbursts witnessed in Durban.

In a news release issued today in Geneva, Ms. Pillay said she hoped the introduction of the much shorter, but still substantive, version of the text that has been under discussion since January would be a “major turning point” in preparations for the meeting.

“I really hope that this marks the necessary breakthrough needed to achieve consensus on a text that must offer concrete help to hundreds of groups and millions of individuals who are subjected to racism and other forms of intolerance all across the world,” Ms. Pillay said.

“No continent, indeed no individual country, is free of these dangerous phenomena, and it would be inexcusable if States failed to reach consensus on such important issues,” she added.

Russia’s Yuri Boychenko, who is chairing the negotiations, will continue to consult informally on this “rolling” document during the coming weeks, leading up to a Preparatory Committee meeting from 15 to 17 April, just before the actual Review Conference.

“Thanks to those who have been working, and contributing with good will, to produce this latest text – despite the sustained and sometimes distorted criticisms that have dogged this Conference process – I believe there should now be no major barrier to reaching a successful outcome,” Ms. Pillay said.

She urged all States to refrain from taking “narrow politicized or polemical stances on particular issues,” and to work together to ensure a successful outcome for the victims of racial discrimination and intolerance around the world.


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