In symbolic ceremony, South Africa hands over site of anti-racism forum to UN

In symbolic ceremony, South Africa hands over site of anti-racism forum to UN

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Flags of the United Nations and South Africa were raised simultaneously in Durban, South Africa, today as part of a ceremony marking the hand-over to the UN of the site of the World Conference against Racism, which opens on 31 August.

Following the flag-raising ceremony, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, and South Africa's Foreign Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, planted a tree as a symbol to "remember the victims of racism." The tree, one of the protected yellow wood species, is the national tree of South Africa and can live for 100 years.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived today in Durban, where he was briefed by Mrs. Robinson, who will be serving as Secretary-General of the Conference.

Mr. Annan is expected to address the Conference's NGO Forum tomorrow, when he will also begin a series of bilateral meetings with heads of State and government and other senior officials attending the meeting, which runs through 7 September. On Friday morning he will deliver an opening address to the World Conference.

Known formally as the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, the event is expected to draw the participation of more than 15 heads of State and government as well as over 12,000 representatives from 194 States and various non-governmental organizations.