Organized by the United Nations, the Durban Review Conference and the process of preparations leading up to it provide an opportunity to assess and accelerate progress on implementation of measures adopted at the 2001 World Conference against Racism, including assessment of contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
The 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR), held in Durban, South Africa, was a landmark event in the struggle to improve the lives of millions of human beings around the world who are victims of racial discrimination and intolerance. After a wide-ranging debate, the Conference adopted by consensus the ground-breaking Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA), which provided an important new framework for guiding governments, non-governmental organizations and other institutions in their efforts to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
The DDPA is the most comprehensive and valuable framework that exists for addressing these extremely important issues. It encompasses far-reaching measures to combat racism in all its manifestations, including strengthening education, fighting poverty, securing development, improving the remedies and resources available to victims of racism, and bolstering respect for the rule of law and for human rights.
While progress has been made since 2001, there is a continued need for committed implementation of the DDPA. Racist attitudes and hate speech can be found in many countries and technologies such as the Internet provide new vehicles for their proliferation.
The decision to convene the Durban Review Conference was made by UN Member States at a General Assembly meeting in 2006 (Resolution A/RES/61/149). The General Assembly requested the UN Human Rights Council to prepare the process and the Human Rights Council therefore constituted a Preparatory Committee of the Conference. The work of the PrepCom is open to all UN Member States, beyond the 47 members of the Human Rights Council. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was appointed by the UN Secretary-General to serve as Secretary-General of the Conference and her Office (OHCHR) functions as its Secretariat.Top
ObjectivesIn August 2007, the PrepCom set forth the following objectives for the Durban Review Conference:
- To review progress and assess implementation of the DDPA by all stakeholders at the national, regional and international levels, including assessment of contemporary manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, through an inclusive, transparent and collaborative process, and identification of concrete measures and initiatives for combating and eliminating all manifestations of these phenomena;
- To assess the effectiveness of the existing Durban follow-up mechanisms and other relevant UN mechanisms dealing with the issues of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in order to enhance them;
- To promote the universal ratification and implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and proper consideration of the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination;
- To identify and share good practices achieved in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
Members of the Preparatory Committee have repeatedly asserted that the Review Conference should be limited to a review of the implementation of the DDPA and should not re-open discussion on issues or introduce new issues.
Participants in the Durban Review Conference
The April 2009 Review Conference and the process leading up to it are open to all UN Member States. Other entities entitled to observer status include inter-governmental organizations, specialized UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), as well as other accredited NGOs. For more information on how NGOs can take part, see the NGO participation page.
Given the critical importance of the issues under discussion at the Conference, broad participation is essential and the High Commissioner for Human Rights has urged all countries to participate fully in the review process.