Preparations for World Conference against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia


Vienna : Delegates from 20 countries will meet in Geneva later this month to establish the dates and location of the second World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

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The upcoming event is known as Durban II.

Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Geneva office that will not oversee the conference but will be affected by its reputation.

The follow-up conference also is likely to be held in Durban because South Africa is the only nation that has offered publicly to host it.

The first conference was designed to be inclusive, and nearly any group that could afford the airfare or find a sponsor was welcomed.

Groups of demonstrators, some sporting manacles and fake whip-marks, demanded reparations for slavery.

The conference featured graphic exhibits showing wounds and humiliations suffered by indigenous tribes, and religious and ethnic minorities.

The most contentious deliberations by far were among the nongovernmental organizations (NGO), whose delegates met separately from diplomats to hammer out their own declarations.

The NGO document, which was never formally released by the United Nations, declared that Zionism equals racism and condemned Israel for committing a “holocaust” against its Palestinian neighbors.

The NGO declaration also singled out for criticism beneficiaries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, while ignoring the trade in slaves from East Africa to the Arab world.

Israel overshadowed nearly every other issue, to the chagrin of groups that were unable to air their own grievances.

“The problem with Durban was because of the way things developed on the edge of the last [conference],” Colville said. “It’s taken on a life and a mythology of its own.”
He said the organizers of the next conference likely would limit NGO participation to groups recognized by the UN Economic and Social Council, or those explicitly endorsed by the 20 advisory nations.

The advisory panel includes Iran, Pakistan, Libya and Cuba.