Press Releases

    HR/4817
    25 February 2005

    Independent Experts Call for Renewed Efforts to Combat Continuing Institutional Racism, Large-Scale Xenophobia

    (Reissued as received.)

    GENEVA, 24 February (UN Information Service) -- A panel of Eminent Experts has expressed profound concern about continuing institutional and large-scale manifestations of racism and xenophobia.

    The group of five Independent Eminent Experts, appointed on the recommendation of the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, said renewed efforts, both at the international and national levels, were necessary to fight bias and unequal treatment.  They issued this call following their second session in Geneva from 21 to 23 February.

    The Independent Eminent Experts are:  His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan; Martti Oiva Kalevi Ahtisaari, former President of Finland; Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, former Prime Minister of Tanzania, former Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity and former President of the General Assembly; Hanna Suchocka, former Prime Minister of Poland; and Dr. Edna Maria Santos Roland of Brazil, General Rapporteur of the World Conference against Racism.  They were appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan as representatives of all the regions of the world to contribute “their stature, expertise and a strong commitment to the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action” of the World Conference.

    The following statement was released by the Experts at the end of their meeting:

    “The group of five Independent Eminent Experts met for the second time in Geneva to address the implementation of the world strategy to counter racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, established by the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.  While adopting the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the Conference recommended the appointment of Eminent Experts to marshal efforts to eliminate the most despicable evils of our times.

    “On 21 February 2005, the Eminent Experts started their three-day meeting by holding discussions with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs. Louise Arbour.

    “During their deliberations, the Eminent Experts expressed their profound concern about both the continuous institutional and large-scale manifestations of racism and xenophobia.  To counter them, renewed efforts are necessary, both at the international and national level.  Next year, the international community will hold the five-year review of the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.  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. 

    “The Eminent Experts acknowledge the importance of the international and national legal framework in combating racism, discrimination and xenophobia.  They urge all Member States that have not yet ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination to do so during the remainder of the year 2005, as recommended by the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

    The Eminent Experts consider that education and awareness-raising campaigns to inform the larger public about the positive aspects of multiculturalism and the importance of tolerance constitute important tools in combating discrimination.  Education, in particular, stands as an essential tool to assist victims of discrimination in overcoming their disempowered situation.

    “Recalling the recommendation adopted at their last session, the Eminent Experts reiterate the need for a Racial Equality Index aimed at measuring existing racial inequalities.  In this regard, they call on all parties concerned to cooperate toward the realization of this objective.

    “In following the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the Eminent Experts will continue to engage in dialogue with relevant actors, including governments, United Nations human rights mechanisms and civil society.  This dialogue, while addressing racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in general, will place at the centre those who suffer from these scourges and their disadvantageous impacts.

    “The Eminent Experts called on Member States to allocate adequate resources within their national budgets to counter racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.  They also called on the Secretary-General and donors to provide appropriate resources for the United Nations action in the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

    “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.  Its future work will take into account existing vulnerabilities of groups, communities and other stakeholders.  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.”

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