Modified text for Durban antiracism conference welcomed by UN rights chief

17 April 2009The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights today congratulated nations for agreeing on the text of a draft outcome to be adopted at next week’s anti-racism gathering in Geneva, stressing that the process under way will help millions of people suffering from intolerance worldwide. Navi Pillay said that the 16-page document, agreed on by the Preparatory Committee this afternoon, will have an “easy passage” through the Durban Review Conference because it was so “well-deliberated” by States.“It has not been an easy process, but it is excellent that delegates have agreed on the key issues,” she said. “This process is very important for the sake of all the millions of people who suffer from racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance every day, of every week, in every part of the world.”The High Commissioner hailed the spirit of consensus that lead to agreement on the document, commending States’ commitment to “move forward together to tackle the scourge of racism.”The five-day Review Conference, opening on 20 April, seeks to assess progress and implementation thus far of the landmark Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) agreed on by States eight years ago.As of this morning, nearly 4,000 people had registered to participate in the gathering, including more than 100 heads of delegation from Member States and over 2,500 representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs).“The commitments made by governments in 2001 were forceful and ground-breaking, but there is still much to be done in implementing them,” Ms. Pillay said. “The aim of next week’s conference is to reinvigorate implementation of those wide-ranging commitments so that we can eliminate discriminatory practices and intolerance.”Acknowledging that it is only normal that opinions differ in a diverse world, she voiced hope that by the end of the gathering, which will also be attended by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a clear message will be sent out that “we are, indeed, united against racism.”

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