Some States still do not recognize racism’s existence, UN rights chief cautions
As preparatory meetings kicked off today in Geneva in preparation for next year’s review of the landmark 2001 global conference against racism, the top United Nations human rights official warned that some States still do not recognize the existence of racism as a phenomenon.
“National laws and measures to ensure its elimination in most countries are either inadequate or ineffective,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour. “As a result, vulnerable groups continue to suffer aggression while abusers enjoy impunity.”
She added that few nations have implemented the necessary action plans to remedy this situation.
The process to prepare for the 2009 Durban Review Conference began in 2006, but its first substantive meeting was held by the Preparatory Committee today.
The Conference will assess progress and implementation at the regional, national and international levels of the Declaration and Plan of Action adopted by the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
“The Durban Review Conference is not, and should not be seen as, a repetition of the 2001 World Conference,” Ms. Arbour pointed out at the opening meeting of the Preparatory Committee.
Instead, “it is a platform to evaluate progress, an opportunity to reinvigorate commitments, and a vehicle to fine-tune responses in a purposeful and contextual manner.”
According to a press release from Ms. Arbour’s Office, known as OHCHR, progress since the 2001 meeting – a huge event which attracted some 18,000 people – has been patchy.
The High Commissioner acknowledged that the controversy surrounding the original Durban Conference has not completely subsided.
“There is no hiding the fact that the Durban Review Conference, even before moving its first, preparatory steps, has already elicited criticism and continues to raise concerns which, if not squarely confronted and resolved, may ultimately jeopardize a successful outcome of this process,” she said.