UN rights chief ‘encouraged’ by positive reaction to new anti-racism text

27 March 2009

The top United Nations human rights official today said she is “greatly encouraged” by the positive reactions to the shorter version of the draft outcome document for next month’s anti-racism conference, calling for efforts towards reaching a consensus to keep pace.

Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that all of the ambassadors she has met with so far from all regional groups have indicated that they see the revised text as a “very good basis for negotiations,” and appealed to them to “maintain the current momentum and spirit of cooperation.”

The Durban Review Conference, scheduled for 20-24 April in Geneva, will assess progress in implementing the measures adopted at 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in South Africa eight years ago.

Regarding the text, ambassadors told Ms. Pillay that “any fine-tuning or improvements should minimal” and that the “fundamental balances contained in the current text should not be reopened.”

They also told the UN official that “this text meets the basic requirements of all concerned, while still being substantive and adding value to the fight against racism, xenophobia and similar forms of intolerance,” she said.

When the shortened, but still substantive, version of the text was released last week following consultation with all regional groups and interested delegations, the High Commissioner voiced hope that it would be a “major turning point” in preparations for the Conference. She has acknowledged that the text has been the target of criticism by those who fear a repetition of the anti-Semitic outbursts witnessed in Durban.


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