Ban, UN rights chief hail adoption of outcome document at anti-racism conference

21 April 2009

Top United Nations officials welcomed today’s adoption of an outcome document, emphasizing the need to address all manifestations of intolerance with greater resolve, on the second day of the world body’s anti-racism Durban Review Conference.

Top United Nations officials welcomed today’s adoption of an outcome document, emphasizing the need to address all manifestations of intolerance with greater resolve, on the second day of the world body’s anti-racism Durban Review Conference.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was “heartened” that all States at the five-day gathering in Geneva adopted the text by consensus, signalling the international community’s rejuvenation of its commitment to implement the landmark Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) agreed on by nations in 2001.

Today’s adoption gives “hope to the millions of victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance around the world,” he said in a statement issued by his spokesperson.

Mr. Ban underlined that “the fight against racism is a continuous process,” voicing hope that Member States not taking part in the current event – including the United States and Israel –will “rejoin the international community soon in the fight against the scourges of racism and racial discrimination.”

Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, hailed today’s development as good news, stressing that it is the culmination of a lengthy process by nations.

The document, she said, contains valuable elements, calling on States to take effective, tangible and comprehensive measures to prevent, combat and eradicate all forms and manifestations of racism, and urging countries which have not yet done so to create and implement national plans to combat intolerance, among other steps.

Further, it highlights the increased suffering since 2001 of many different groups of victims of racism and reaffirms the positive role of freedom of expression while deploring derogatory stigmatization of people based on their religion.

Ms. Pillay stressed that, contrary to media reports, today’s document includes no reference to the defamation of religions.

The adoption comes on the heels of yesterday’s address to the Conference by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which was strongly deplored by both the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner

The Iranian leader’s remarks were intended to “accuse, divide and even incite,” Mr. Ban said, while Ms. Pillay characterized them as “grandstanding.”

Protesting Mr. Ahmadinejad’s remarks, delegates of several nations left the conference hall, a move that both officials said they regretted.

The gathering is “too important for anyone to remain outside this conference hall,” the Secretary-General said, while the High Commissioner said that although she was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the Iranian leader’s speech, his behaviour did not “provide any justification for any other Member States to walk out.”

 

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News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Divisiveness perpetuates racism, Secretary-General warns

Unity is essential to moving past intolerance, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underscored today, lamenting the decision by several nations not to attend the United Nations anti-racism conference which kicked off today and deploring remarks made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.