Friday, September 7 - final day

'Can we go home now?'

***TODAY***TODAY***TODAY***


List of the articles today

Editorial · A word from us too.. · Events of the day: Mary Robinson speaks · demonstrations continue · When NGOs meet officials · Videobites


Editorial

In yesterdays editorial we asked if the governments heard the voices of the people. Did they listen to their NGOs, were the NGOs able to lobby their governments? Today we asked this question - at random - to a number of NGOs in the Durban Exhibition Center. It was no surprise that the organizational problems in the first week were mentioned quite often. It was no surprise either that the attitude of some governments was not always welcomed warmly. But it was encouraging that despite of this, many will not leave Durban feeling that they are empty handed.

We are now reaching the deadline for our reports (7 PM) but there is no Final Declaration yet. Some items are still being discussed and talks may continue tomorrow if there is no result today. If so, you will read about this later.

This is the last report about the World Conference Anti Racism from the ICARE team in Durban. We hope you enjoyed our journals.

On behalf of the team,

Anca Sirbu
Ralph du Long

A word from us too...

Reality hits...it is over. After 11 days of sleep deprivation we have done it. It would have been impossible without the team. We thank them and applaud them for all there hard work and courage under fire :-). Some of them are leaving for home tomorrow morning already, some of them on Monday. The two of us will stay here untill the 15th, so we will be doing some small-scale reporting on the outcome of tonight (if there is one) and if we feel realllly bold we will do a special issue from here, PrepCom-style: WCAR, the morning after. Well, we will have to, we did some last video-bites today and Erika 'Proud to be Loud' Harriford, whose statement you can read in 'happenings of the day' will be highly dissapointed if we don't let her videobite conclude the final-final-final issue. :-)

Talk to you all soon, either 'in the flesh' or on the un-discussion list.

Onward!

Suzette Bronkhorst
Ronald Eissens

Events of the day - Final day - NGO side

The last NGO briefing. The national director of Sangoco held a speech in which he talked about the difficulties during the whole process of the WCAR. He also said that the coming 5 years would be a real challenge. He stated explicitly that "it was not upon Sangoco but upon all of us to make the WCAR a success" and he thanked everybody for their commitment. Next spoke Albert Terville on behalf of the International Steering Committee (ISC). He thanked all saying "You gave us an opportunity to serve you". The next speaker was Laurie Wiseberg of the UN NGO Liaison Unit. She stressed that in the process leading up to the world conference and during the WCAR itself, everybody has made mistakes. "Our office has made mistakes, and I'm sure also Sangoco and the ISC will admit that they have made mistakes. It was a learning experience. We need to strengthen our capacity to influence the governmental process, we are the eyes and ears and indeed, the hands to create a better world. We need a global network, it will have to be there. In our museum of differences, our museum of hurts, our museum of things that happened in the past, we have to see each other as part of a new movement for a new millennium. We will have to take the good parts and move forward". After this moving speech there were some remarks from the audience and a statement read by Erika Harriford, the most important part being:

At this moment, the governments of the world are sitting in the ICC and have become stalled on the decisions they should be making. This conference is not about one issue - as timely as that issue may be. This conference is about the global scourges of racism that affect millions of people daily in every conceivable aspect of life. This conference is about the denial of basic and fundamental human rights for all victims of racism - and no country, no NGO and no individual has the right to prioritise which forms of discrimination are the worst. As NGOs we need to unite from all aspects. When one of us is discriminated against due to our race, religion, sexual orientation, colour, language, nationality, physical disability or other category - we are all affected! We need to work together, because I refuse to believe that we cannot accomplish common goals - to rid the world of racism and to find tolerance for our differences.

This got a lot of applause. After this a representative from the African Caucus took the floor and spoke at length and very passionately (in French) about slavery, the black Diaspora and historical debts. While the translator was getting lost in the rapid French, High Commissioner Mary Robinson walked in and Albert Terville, who asked the African Caucus rep. to end his statement, acknowledged her presence. Wanting to go on and not being allowed to do so, the representative started to sing and released the microphone when this did not help.

Myrna Cunningham thanked Mrs Robinson for her presence and told that the ISC had been in a meeting with her yesterday. She asked Mrs Robinson why the media had been informed about the decision on the Declaration before the NGOs. She asked Mrs Robinson to specify her reservations and observations on the document. She said again that according to her the declaration contained the voices of all victims and the pain of all victims.

Mrs Robinson thanked the ISC for their invitation to speak to the NGOs and made it clear that despite stories and rumours she never rejected the declaration and Program of Action.

"When the declaration was presented by the ISC I accepted. I became aware that the text has some inappropriate language and as I have said before, I will always support civil society but I am not able to do so now. Some paragraphs are very unhelpful. To a serious degree the language in this paragraphs is undermining my work. I cannot recomment it to the delegates. Normally, yes. There are some very good things in there. It is the first time that I ever had to take this step. Paragraph 418 calls for bringing back an old UN resolution (zionism=racism) we got rid of already in the past and it is not helpful, not good for the spirit of this conference, to try to bring that one back. Paragraph 419 talks about genocide. This is not helpful but hurtful. I understand the depths of passion. It is inappropriate to have these paragraphs in this document. If you want to know my feelings read the report I made on the situation in the occupied territories. There are rich, good things in the document, particularly in the preamble, which is better than what is in the governmental document now. This is why it is important to have an NGO forum. In the document are paragraphs on Caste, Hate crime and lots of other good points. Important is a follow-up after Durban. Delegates are grappling with new issues, this is not the end, this is the beginning of a long, serious road. We have a huge task ahead of us. A last point. We need healing, based on better understanding, a global alliance against racism. We need to start shaping this process. There will be an agreement this afternoon. Not a great agreement, but it will be achieved. Let's remotivate each other. Thanks for all the good work, other then the sections I could not accept. But we have a good framework. Let's move forward. I will meet with the ISC later today and talk about a follow-up. You might all think of the date 10 December to do something with in that respect."

With this Mrs Robinson stood up to leave and all present gave here a standing ovation. While she was trying to leave the room a woman from the Palestinian caucus took the microphone and said: "you have singled us out without mentioning us, the Palestinians. We have a right to reply to you and we want you to listen to us."

While she continued Mary Robinson had already left the room and Albert Terville stated that she had another pressing appointment to attend to so she had not been able to stay longer.

At 3 p.m. the ISC had planned a final press conference but since no press showed up at that time they moved it to 3.30 p.m. Only 3 members of the press were there (including ICARE). Albert Terville started the meeting ("the sound engineer is working on something so we will start in exactly 18 seconds") and presented some of the ISC members sitting behind the table. He said the WCAR had been an enormous occasion and talked about the declaration as "an international document that reflects the view of the victims". Vera Egenberger spoke a few words about the follow-up after Durban.

Governmental side

On this last day rumors were flying as usual. Diplomats were overheard saying with great confidence that a compromise on slavery, colonialism, compensation and apologies was reached. Around 12 o'clock the news was, yes, with the exception of the British who don't want to talk about this all together, they're almost done, just a problem about 'colonialism is a crime against humanity'. Around 2 o'clock rumor was they'd accepted that sentence into the document and around 4 o'clock it was announced that someone had, by himself or herself, changed the wording. So the EU flipped and said the wording was unacceptable, and they all went back to the negotiation table. Shortly after 1 o'clock both PoA and Declaration drafting groups were made into one group again. First the chairs of both groups gave a rundown of how far they had come. The Declaration group they had worked on 158 paragraphs, 6 new ones were created, 20 para's were put aside for the special consultation groups and 145 para's were adopted by consensus. The Program of Action group had worked very hard, but had more para's to deal with; they've examined 259 para's and 23 para's from the addendum. 164 adopted full stop, 24 partially adopted (still with parts in brackets) and 69 para's are ongoing. It was announced that the closing ceremony would be at 15.00 hours, even if all negotiations weren't completed. That did turn out to be a rumor because it's 22:05 now and still there hasn't been a closing ceremony. Hey, the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna 1993 started their closing ceremony at 5 a.m. so we still have a few hours to go.


The series of demonstrations continues at Durban Exhibition Centre

 

Today Dalits, American black organisations and Uyghur representative.
The Dalit caucus representatives continued today their hunger strike. In front of the ICC everybody was invited to sign-up for supporting the retain of paragraph 73 from the final Document. Long lists were already filled.
A small demonstration (5 people) of American Black NGOs took place in front of ICC. The theme was the education system in USA. The participants requested equal access to education for the black children in USA and elimination of racial discrimination. Some of the slogans: "Tracking Apartheid schools", "Stop the miseducation of our children"

The smallest demonstration today was lead by the only representative of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. "I am not a Chinese. Never heard of Uyghur? Because 11.5 millions strangled" was his slogan.

When NGOs meet officials

"Which were the interactions between your NGO and the official delegation from your country, during the WCAR?" This was the question asked to some representatives of non-governmental sector on the last day of the WCAR. Here we have their answers:

 

Mr. Toshikazu Aiuchi

Professor Science & Political Psychology

Otaru University of Commerce, Japan

I participated in the Vienna conference in 1993, at that time we had deep pessimism but the outcome was much more positive than we expected.

For this conference we were sure that the negotiations packed in two weeks would make some kind of mutual understanding. The overall outcome was not ideal but not worse than our expectations. For us it was positive that in the end only two states walked out. Another positive outcome was that NGOs were able to make constructive contributions in the working rooms. But Asians have been very quiet .

The program of action is almost like a program of inaction, states make to much excuses not to do things. But then again, the outcomes are significant and cannot be ignored.

The Japanese government could have been more firm and should have spoken more on certain themes. But in respect to the contacts with them we are positive. The Japanese government held daily briefings with us which is one of the good signs. They are opening doors to the NGOs. For them it was useful because NGOs had more networks than the governments sometimes.

Ms. Anne-Laure Tomas

World Peace Council, France

The French government is open to NGO’s suggestions. We are happy with the cooperation.

Mr. Antoine Mugesera

IBUKA Against Genocide, Rwanda

We had very few connections with the officials, and the one that exists are more or less informative.

Ms Saskia Stegeman

Platform of European Social NGOs, Belgium

This conference was a good initiative. Many voices that are normally not able to make themselves heard, now were able to do so. But the way the conference was organized did not always encourage the less heard. Some groups had very important issues but they were less visible and stayed less visible because of this.

The EU had a daily briefing with NGOs. Whoever wanted to come, was welcome. We heard that many European Governments were open for their NGOs.

Some of our member organizations had a position paper, and we learned from them that this was very useful. A specified paper made it definitely easier to lobby for their issue.

German NGO

We had contacts with the official delegation, but only informal.


Brazilian NGO

After the demonstration made to attract the attention of our government, they started to work together with us.

Mr. Antoine Muikilu Ndaye

Association des Théologiens Catholiques Laics, Congo

We had official meetings with our officials and mutual information about the position taken, and they have explained us the reasons. We didn’t try to lobby them in any way.

Uzbekistan NGO

Unfortunately there were no official delegates from our country in this conference.

Mr. Ba Amadou Samba

Association des Mauritanienes Refugiés au Senegal, Senegal

There are no relations with the government, since we were deported by the Mauritanian government in a neighbour country, Senegal. We are living there already for 12 years and at the moment we are 66788 people. Our human rights NGO was created in order to be able to come to the conference and to speak about realities which continue to exist in Mauritania: slavery, racism and deportation. "If there is a racist government in the third world today, it is the Mauritanian one. We are the victim of this racism and we came to this conference to denounce this, to present our testimony." And the issue of reparations was avoided today by the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Civil society has a clear objective: all the countries which have committed crimes against humanity should be judged. If the Commissioner for Human Rights is not effective in solving the crime problem, then UN is not efficient.

Mr. Daha Cherif

RADDHO - Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme, Senegal

Firstly, this conference was very important to make contacts – the whole world is here and this is fantastic! Concerning the NGOs present here, there is not so much solidarity (for instance amongst black NGOs from America and Africa). The fact that the document we have produced made Mary Robinson angry, represents for us a success.

The Senegalese official delegation received the representatives from our organisation, for discussions. At a certain point, there was an agreement of opinions. But they are against reparations. And while the American NGOs want money, the African ones want a public policy oriented towards international cooperation. In this way the reparations issue will be heard and accepted.

Russian NGO

I didn’t meet the official delegation, but I didn’t even try; I think it is useless. They will not listen to us, anyway.

Mr. Gore Brd. Khapangi Magar

Nepal Magar Association, Nepal

NGOs are happy with the relation and applauded the speech of the official, since it clearly promoted the rights of indigenous people.

United Nations Association, United Kingdom

We had meetings every evening, and there was a good information flow. Not the entire UK NGO delegation was in this spirit, since there were groups that focused more on slavery and reparations. The government doesn’t accept this, but it works on the issue of recognising the "institutionalised racism", where there is more openness. A way to work with the governments is to offer them solutions, suggestions, not to make noise, because then they will not listen any more.

Bulgarian NGO

The official delegation avoids to speak with NGO delegates, although efforts have been made. Especially when it comes to the Roma people issue. We still hope to get in touch with them.

Mr. Martins P. Iwuanyanwu

Leadership Watch, Nigeria

There are info briefings, and positive reactions from the governmental side. Nevertheless there are still grey areas of negotiations, but they will be discussed after the conference.

Videobites of the day:

We’re at the end of the conference. What are your feelings now, and what do you think is the follow-up?

Romina, COBASE, Italy

"...this conference is a step in order to solve racism and to reinforce cultural diversity..."

click here to play the RealVideo file.

Taipa Ratna, Habitat International Coalition

"...outcome was very positive. Being together, talking to each other, this is what people will take back home..."

click here to play the RealVideo file.

Ken Brown, Justice & Witness Ministries, USA

"...it is a lot of more work to be done in terms of ending racism. We look forward to work for justice with people from all around the world..."

click here to play the RealVideo file.

Delia Grigore, Aven Amenza, Romania

"...I trust more the follow-up from the part of the civil society. The declaration of governments is going to be an advocacy paper for us to persuade them to act in the future..."

click here to play the RealVideo file.

If you don´t have RealPlayer:


That's it!

best regards,
ICARE Newsteam Durban.

Contributions, comments or opinions please to: english@icare.to


Stay informed!

You might also consider subscribing to the un-discussion list, a mailing list on which nearly 700 NGOs and individuals worldwide talk about the World Conference. The list will continue its existence after the WCAR. To subscribe, send e-mail to info@icare.to with in the subject ´subscribe un-discussion´.