Renewed war on enduring worldwide racism and xenophobia called for by UN experts
Voicing “profound concern” at continuing institutional and large-scale racism and xenophobia worldwide, a panel of experts appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for renewed counter-efforts at the international and national levels, including education and awareness-raising campaigns.
“The Eminent Experts are determined that their work should follow a humanitarian vision of an 'ethic of human solidarity,’ based on central values of human dignity, respect for diversity and the importance of effective measures for the protection of people,” the five-member panel said at the end of a three-day meeting yesterday in Geneva.
“The Eminent Experts call on governments, international organizations and civil society to take practical steps to help bridge the gaps between international legislation, resolutions and decisions and the practice of States and societies.”
They noted that next year will see the holding of the five-year review of the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. “It is essential to use this opportunity not only to take stock of achievements and shortcomings, but also to draw a clear perspective for the enhanced implementation of the commitments made at the 2001 World Conference,” they added.
They called on Member States to allocate adequate resources within their national budgets to counter racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
Meeting with the panel, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour recalled that during her three years as chief prosecutor for the UN war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, she was confronted with some of the worst excesses of intolerance and injustice and the grossest abuses of the most basic human rights.
One must never forget the horrendous massacres in Rwanda in 1994, which killed up to 800,000 people, and the massive killings a year later in Srebrenica, Bosnia, where 8,000 Muslim men and boys died, both driven by racial and ethnic intolerance and hatred, she said. Those events reminded the world, in all their brutality, that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance were not a vanishing phenomenon, and that the need for vigilance was never exaggerated.
The Independent Eminent Experts are Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, former Tanzanian Prime Minister Salim Ahmed Salim, former Polish Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka, and Edna Maria Santos Roland of Brazil, General Rapporteur of the World Conference against Racism.