During the last fifty years since the adoption in 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the international community has made some important advances in the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. National and international laws have been enacted and numerous international human rights instruments, particularly a treaty to ban racial discrimination, have been adopted. Progress has been made -witness the defeat of apartheid in South Africa. Yet, the dream of a world free of racial hatred and bias remains only half fulfilled.
In 1997, the General Assembly decided, in resolution 52/111, to hold the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. The World Conference which will be held in Durban, South Africa from 31 August to 7 September 2001, will be a landmark in the struggle to eradicate all forms of racism "requiring a strong follow-up mechanism to examine whether Governments have delivered on their promises made," according to the High Commissioner. She promised "to make it a conference of actions not just words." The World Conference is a unique opportunity to create a new world vision for the fight against racism in the twenty-first century.