NGO-udtalelse til Verdenskonferencen imod racisme m.v.:

Informal Consultations of the Preparatory Committee for the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

15-16 January, 2001
Palais des Nations, Geneva

Item 3

NGO Joint Statement

Delivered by the WomenÕs International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Michaela Told


1. All India WomenÕs Conference
2. December 12th Movement
3. Interfaith International
4. International Association Against Torture
5. International Confederation of Trade Unions
6. International Council of Women
7. International Federation of University Women
8. International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism
9. International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations
10. Lutheran World Federation
11. TIYE Internationa
12. Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
13. World Federation of Democratic Youth
14. World Federation of Methodist and United Church Women
15. Zonta International

Informal Consultations of the Preparatory Committee for the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Thank You Madam Chairperson,

I speak on behalf of a number of international non-governmental organizations actively working for the elimination of racism and racial discrimination. Many of them are members of the NGO Sub-Committee on Racism, Racial Discrimination and Decolonization.

The NGO Sub-committee on Racism affiliated to the NGO Special Committee on Human Rights was established in 1972 to mobilize public opinion, support and work for the realization of the goals of the UN Decades for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination.

Madam Chairperson,

We believe that proper elaboration of possible sub-themes of the five main themes of the agenda of the World Conference as agreed upon by the First Preparatory Committee in May 2000 is an important step in the process leading to the World Conference. We need to recall that useful discussion on issues of substance depends on the development of relevant and appropriate sub-themes. In doing so, we are guided by our belief that all forms of racism and discrimination whether based on colour, racial or ethnic origin, gender, descent, class or any other background are unacceptable and should be given enough room in the discussion.

On theme 1 : sources, causes, forms and contemporary manifestations of racism and discrimination: We believe that the present racist phenomena include manifestations of centuries old insidious practices that regrettably continue to haunt the world today. To meaningfully address the root causes of these phenomena we need to go to earlier times and tackle historical facts that have played a cardinal role in entrenching and consolidating racism and discrimination, such as the slave trade of African people and colonialism. Racism and discrimination as a means for the control of material wealth need to be singled out, especially in light of the increasing gap in the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few and widening economic disparities between as well as within poor and rich countries wrought by the negative impacts of economic globalization, in particular the discriminatory international socio-economic policies, economic protectionism, and unjust treatment confined to some countries of the developing world.

On theme 2 : victims of racism and racial discrimination: The most salient feature is the discrimination against Blacks or Negrophobia, discrimination against indigenous peoples - often also combined with environmental racism manifested in environmentally hazardous living conditions, inter alia, near toxic waste sites, Arabophobia and Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism, discrimination against the Roma or Gypsies, as well as descent and caste-based discrimination, in particular discrimination against Dalits. Other targeted groups that are victims of multiple manifestations of racism are minorities, migrant workers, undocumented migrants, immigrants, trafficked persons, asylum seekers, refugees, displaced and disabled persons, among all of them women and children are particularly affected. The intersection of racial discrimination, sex-based and class/descent/caste-based discrimination makes womenÕs oppression even more acute and leave them trapped in this triangle of discriminatory practices.

All these findings are well documented by international human rights mechanisms including the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Mr. Glele-Ahanhanzo.

For the Conference to achieve its required goals, it should provide a process of healing, reconciliation and emancipation of the victims of racism and racial discrimination (theme 4). Indeed, any genuine process of healing and reconciliation requires, among others, the provision of and access to effective remedies, recourse, redress and compensation for the victims of racism and racial discrimination at national, regional and international levels as provided for by national, regional, and international human rights instruments and legal precedents in customary law.

On theme 5 : Strategies: We consider that serious implementation of effective local, national and regional measures, including Ôaffirmative actionÕ programmes and the application of a gender- and age-analysis, will play an important role in this regard. The international instruments to combat racism and discrimination need to be looked at again with a view to review and further empower them. This should include the strengthening of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), a declaration of acceptance of article 14 of the ICERD by States Parties, the ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families, and the ratification without reservations and implementation of other relevant legal instruments, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and its Optional Protocol, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as well as the respect of the ILO Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights of Work.

In conclusion, Madam Chairperson, I would raise one other important issue which was brought to our attention and concerns the accreditation of African NGOs to the Regional Preparatory Meeting in Dakar. We urge African governments that they adopt - as in the case of the other regional preparatory meetings - a fast track procedure for NGOs to participate in the Dakar meeting. This would ensure the inclusion of the valuable contribution of local African NGOs to the regional meeting.

Thank You, Madam Chairperson.