Monday September 3rd, sixth day


'And this will be the final final final final comment please!!!'




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

List of the articles today:

USA withdraws · Editorial · Events of the day · NGO's Caucusses and Goverments· In Memoriam · Joint Statement by Eastern and Central Europe NGO Caucus and other NGO's


Latest: USA withdraws from WCAR

The USA delegation withdrew from the WCAR. Rumors started spreading already yesterday but today it was made officially. In reaction to the USA decision, Israel followed too withdrew its delegation.
According to Colin Powell it is not impossible to work for a successful conference that is ' a throwback to the days of 'Zionism equals racism' or supports the idea that we have made too much of the Holocaust, or suggests that apartheid exists in Israel, or that singles out only one country in the world, Israel, for censure and abuse'.
South Africa released a press statement.
'The South African Government views the withdrawal as unfortunate and unnecessary. It will be unfair if a conception were to be developed that the USA withdrawal is to merely a red herring demonstrating an unwillingness to confront the real issues post by racism in the USA and globally.'

Editorial



Tomorrow at 10 PM the NGO Final Declaration and Plan of Action will be presented to Mrs. Mary Robinson.

At last.

But what kind of Declaration will it be ? Throughout the day NGOs and Caucuses met to discuss the way the Declaration was adopted (some doubt that it was) , and the language that was included. We reported about it in the previous days.

Some of the big NGOs already denounced the Declaration and so did the Jewish Caucus. The Eastern and Central Europe NGO Caucus published (see elsewhere in this edition) a statement that was signed by over 30 NGOs, and is open for other NGOs that wish to join as well.

The statement is a very clear sign that NGOs do not accept being treated the way they were, when it came to discussing and adopting the then draft Declaration. This should be welcomed and lessons must be drawn from it to improve future work of civil society.

Even more support should be given to the phrases in the statement saying that the NGO community should continue to work on the basis of the positive aspects of the preparatory process the WCAR and the Forum. Too much time was already lost to do the important work that NGOs should do: lobby (their) governments to make sure that racism is fought effectively. In four days though much still can and should be achieved: declaration or no declaration.

Ralph du Long


Events of the day - on the NGO side

During the NGO briefing this morning, only 35 people were present at first, but later during the meeting this number grew to over 200. It took off with practical remarks. Laurie Wiseberg told us that day-passes for the ICC were available in the small tent near the accreditation tent, on a first come, first serve basis. Later in the meeting (which took till 10 AM) people complained about the coinciding of the NGO briefing with the time of getting passes. Laurie stated that from tomorrow on the passes will be available from 9:30 on. She also came with the long awaited news; the NGO Declaration will be presented to the governmental plenary tomorrow at 10 AM by the ISC. They will have 15 minutes or somewhat less to do it. After this the caucuses and NGOs will be allowed to speak for maximum 5 minutes. Submission for speaking time should be brought into the back of the plenary or, for people without a pass, into the Secretariat. A number of people were rather annoyed about how the process of adoption of the Declaration has been going and some persist in calling it Draft Declaration. A demand was made that caucuses should have the right to review the document when all the changes are incorporated (scheduled for tonight) and before it goes to the Governmental Conference. There was some clapping, in which even a few ISC members participated. A remark was made that the Declaration was never officially adopted since there has been no final voting over the complete document. Paul Divikar from the ISC took the floor and stated that "the document has been adopted". He was boo-ed by a large part of the room. Renate Bloem, president of CONGO expressed that she had hoped for a better document and her predecessor added to this " CONGO was not involved in the process but didn't care". The linkage caucus took the floor and announced that they would have a meeting today at 5 p.m. and asked everybody to submit 3 to 5 key issues, which the Linkage caucus would then lobby on. Stella Tamang, ISC member and Indigenous caucus representative said that the Indigenous caucus was very sad about the whole process but also about paragraph 27 of the Governmental draft, which in her opinion does not recognise the Indigenous people, goes directly against them and is also in violation of international law.

More news on the (Draft)Declaration

Caucuses

Up till now, only the Jewish caucus and the Eastern and Central Europe NGO Caucus have denounced the Declaration completely. The European caucus is in trouble over the matter. During their very noisy and chaotic meeting this afternoon a number of migrant organisations stated that they had not been part of the European Caucus preparatory process up till now for various reasons ( exclusion, no money to attend). However, they did not want to denounce part of the language in the draft but would rather say that they are satisfied with the document. Because the meeting was very noisy and at the end almost out of control, another meeting was disrupted by the upheaval and could not continue and the U.N. asked people to leave,. Outside, the Caucus meeting split into two groups of which one continued the meeting somewhere else.

For tomorrow, the indigenous people, the Latin American and Caribbean Caucuses have announced a demonstration against the process.

The INGO caucus is also talking about making a statement on the ' language' matter.

NGOs

Amnesty made a press statement saying that they do not agree with the language in the document.

SOS-Racisme Paris also issued a press statement saying that they could not agree with the language either.

A number of Dutch NGOs are denouncing the declaration in a petition in which they specifically name Anti-Semitism as a reason, so far these NGOs and the Jewish caucus are the only ones who use 'Antisemitism' instead of obfuscating generic remarks on ' language' .

Events- on the Governmental side

Today the UN decided that since the NGOs are so well behaved in the ICC building they would adjust the restrictive entrance policy of the building. Two hundred extra access cards were distributed to the NGOs and the special passes to enter the drafting rooms are not needed anymore. As the craving for access is now almost resolved, the NGO community wasn't so much interest to actually sit in on the proceedings in the Assembly Hall. In contrast: in both drafting rooms all empty seats were quickly taken. These rooms are like in Geneva, you can walk unrestricted to the governmental delegates. The work on the Declaration and Program of Action (PoA) is progressing extremely slow. The chances of a Governmental Declaration and PoA at the end of this conference are very difficult to estimate, no delegate is willing to have a guess, educated or otherwise. In case the conference fails some of the governmental delegates we spoke to are trying to shift the blame for this on the NGOs. Saying that if the NGO forum doesn't present a document, it will diminish the chances for a Governmental one.

 

In the morning session in both drafting rooms the question came up, if NGOs should be allowed to give interventions there. Further debate on that was postponed to the afternoon sessions starting at 15.00 hours. It would give both rooms the opportunity to discuss the issue within a smaller group. In the Declaration drafting room it was announced that they haven't reached a consensus on it so, again they've moved the issue to tomorrow. In the PoA room the chair announced that, unless states demand a vote on it, it will be allowed. Reactions of states ranged from "we hope the NGOs will be allowed to speak, because it could possibly speed up the process" to "we know the point of view on the different paragraphs, and we have plenty to do, so let's just start doing our job" By tomorrow we hope to have an answer.

 

Governementals

The Netherlands

Deep remorse about slavery

Dutch Minister for Urban Policy and Integration of Minorities yesterday stated that the Netherlands deeply remorse slave trade. 'This World Conference in Durban is in our view a necessary moment to state to all people that racism and discrimination must be eradicated. But we can only be credible if we recognize the great injustices of the past. We express deep remorse about the enslavement and slave trade that took place. '

According to the Netherlands structural measures must be taken that have effects for the descendents of former slaves and next generations. The Netherlands are not willing to support statements in any declaration that will lead to individual claims of descendents.

South Africa

About the first two days of the WCAR

Deputy president Jacob Zuma, was ready today to answer several questions on the WCAR so far. Generally he emphasized the opportunity given to any specific group that has issues to rise, has to put them on the discussion table. One of the main topics approached in the discussion was referring to colonialism. In this matter, he mentioned that in the South African situation, "there is a colonialism of a specific type". In his opinion, the opportunity to speak about Apartheid and the actual situation shouldn't be lost. Asked about the NGO Declaration which contains an article targeting the controversial Palestine-Israel conflict, the deputy president Zuma mentioned that there isn't anything wrong in using sharp words in the Declaration; it shows the sharp conflict situation that exists indeed, and the people should rise the issue. He also affirmed that situation shouldn't last for ever and he was confident that this conference will be able to tackle the issue. Mr. Zuma thinks that it is the duty of international community to solve this problem. The support of South African Government in solving the conflict was reaffirmed. South Africa would definitely play a role, as long as it can provide a constructive help. The accusation, coming from an US delegate, that extremist groups from Middle East hijacked the conference was rejected. Mr. Zuma said that the issue of the Palestinian conflict was on the table on each preparation meeting and now it found its way towards discussion. Regarding another 'hot' issue, the reparations, Mr. Zuma considers that everybody should focus on the truth of reconciliation. Referring to this, he mentioned the new African initiative, to convert the reparations into including African countries in the development programs for the former colonies. "You can not say: 'Pay us!' but you can say: 'Invest in us!'." So, the issue of reparations is for sure on the agenda of this conference; the discussions go into direction of finding the best way to provide reparations.

Czech Republic

Globalization

Mr. Jan Kavan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech republic acknowledged the dangers of globalization. He pointed out the dangers of the widening gap between rich and poor because of the process. Few industrialized countries has made such clear statement on globalization.

Romania

I wish I represented the NGOs, not the Government...

The member in the group that gives shape to the final Declaration of the WCAR, Mr. Attila Marko, under-Secretary of State in the Romanian Government, thinks that the level of this conference is too general. It was expected that the language of the United Nations would to be like this, since it should cover all the racial problems in this world.

It doesn't mean that specific issues can not be discussed; there are mediation forums, which tackle them, but concrete examples will not be given in the final document. When it comes to the Romanian attitude in the conference, most of the items it wanted to be included were already posted in the PrepCom, and they are not going to be opened anymore. From this point of view, there is not too much work to do. "Anyway, we can not afford too much freedom of expression, since we belong to Europe, and we had a preparation conference; now we try to stick to what was decided then, and of course we try to follow the line of European Union", states Mr. Marko. "What Europe says, we say it, too." The interventions from the Romanian delegation concern, of course, the specific issues of the country. For instance, the Roma is one of the issues that imposes governmental measures, so it was approached by any way, including the cooperation with the Romanian Roma NGOs. The governmental representative declares his regret not to have the same freedom as the civil society to promote his opinions. What he also finds not correct, is that consequently all the notions that refer to 'group' and 'collectivity' are cut from the document. "I personally tried to raise attention to this aspect, but the accent continues to be put on individuals and not on group or community."

'In the end, a good final document is needed. The radical, sharp elements do not resist in a final document', says the Romanian official delegate. 'So everybody does the best to achieve the maximum results.'


We hope they do !


In Memoriam

A few days ago mr Mostafa Souhair, member of the Italian NGO Delegation was found dead in his hotel in Durban.
This news came to us and all other participants of the NGO Forum as a shock. We pay tribute to Mostafa Souhair and the work he has done fighting racism.

Our sympathy is with his family and friends.


Joint Statement by Eastern and Central Europe NGO Caucus and other NGOs

September 3, 2001 (Durban, South Africa)

We, WCAR NGO Forum delegates of more than 50 non-governmental organizations from more than 20 countries of Eastern and Central Europe and the former Soviet Union and other countries of the world, state that we do not support the documents allegedly adopted by the NGO Forum and come forth with a forward-looking positive proposal.

First and foremost, we declare that the process of compilation and adoption of the NGO Forum Declaration and Program of Action was neither transparent nor democratic and permeated with procedural violations. The draft documents were not submitted to the delegates in a timely manner; the rules of procedure were unclear and repeatedly changed; the discussion was heavily restricted. Finally, the delegates were not given an opportunity to vote on the draft documents in their entirety. This enables us to affirm that the documents cannot be considered adopted by the NGO Forum and are not consensus documents.

We believe that as a result of this flawed process, the contents of the documents include unacceptable concepts and language. We are particularly concerned with certain ideas included in the chapters “Globalization,” “Palestine,” “Reparations,” and a number of paragraphs of the documents.

We must emphasize that the language of the chapter “Palestine” as well as the deliberate distortions made to the chapter “Anti-Semitism,” is extremely intolerant, disrespectful and contrary to the very spirit of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

Nevertheless, despite the negative results of the NGO Forum, we strongly believe that the international NGO community should not give up but continue to work on the basis of the positive aspects of the entire preparatory process to the World Conference and the Forum itself. In particular, the following achievements represent a sound foundation for future consolidated efforts: reinforcement of the available international legal mechanisms of protection against racism and discrimination; development of national anti-discrimination legislation and institutions; creation of national plans of action; recognition of the slave-trade as a crime against humanity; acknowledgement of the scourges of colonialism; inclusion on the agenda of such issues as denial of racism; double discrimination; religious intolerance; state racism; ethnic cleansing; racism not rooted in the slave-trade; sexual orientation; migrants and internally displaced persons; indigenous peoples; and specific groups of victims such as Roma, Chechens, Tibetans, and Dalits.  

We intend to immediately move on to implementation of the above achievements and call upon the international NGO community to join us in these efforts.

* * * * *

PS: On top of all the troubles of the NGO Forum, at the closing ceremony, the delegates had to listen for over two hours to a speech by Fidel Castro. We are offended by the fact that one of the worst dictators in the contemporary world, particularly notorious for gross violations of human rights, was invited to address this world gathering of non-governmental organizations. Listening to Fidel speak, we only had to wonder why the organizers had failed to invite Alexander Lukashenko, Turkmenbashi, Saddam Hussein, or the Taliban regime.

For information, contact Yuri Dzhibladze at 082-379-5768 until September 8, and thereafter at +7-095-203-9196 and dzhib@demokratia.ru.



The statement was adopted by 36 NGOs from 19 countries of Eastern and Central Europe at their Caucus meeting on September 2, 2001. At the request by NGOs from countries outside of the region of Eastern and Central Europe the Caucus decided on its meeting on September 3, 2001 to make the document open for joining by other NGOs from outside of the region and call it a “Joint Statement”.

As of 18:00 on September 3, 2001 the statement has been endorsed by more than 50 NGOs from the following 23 countries:

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Yugoslavia, Sweden, Denmark, United States of America

List of NGOs who have endorsed the statement:

Women’s Rights Center (Armenia), “Millenium” Association for Education and Research (Armenia), Czech Helsinki Committee (Czech Republic), GLOBEA (Czech Republic), Legal Information Center for Human Rights (Estonia), Institute for Refugee and Minority Problems (Georgia), Center for Development and Cooperation-Center for Pluralism (Georgia), Georgian Young Lawyers Association (Georgia), Legal and Information Service “Dialogue” (Kazakhstan), Youth Human Rights Group (Kyrgyzstan), Latvian Center for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies (Latvia), Lithuanian Center for Human Rights (Lithuania), Association for Democratic Initiative (Macedonia), Helsinki Citizens Assembly of Moldova (Moldova), Youth Helsinki Citizens Assembly of Moldova (Moldova), Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland), “Never Again” Association (Poland), Liga Pro Europa (Romania), Romanian Helsinki Committee (Romania), Center for Development of Democracy and Human Rights (Russia), Institute for Independent Sociological Studies (Russia), Moscow Helsinki Group (Russia), Information and Research Center “Panorama” (Russia), Roma National-Cultural Autonomy (Russia), Stavropol Regional Human Rights Center (Russia), Minority Rights Group of the Saint Petersburg Association of Scientists and Scholars (Russia), International Society of Meschetien Turks “Vatan” (Russia), Anti-Defamation League (Russia), Youth Human Rights Movement (Russia), Harold and Selma Lights Center for Human Rights Advocacy (Russia), The Youth Center for Human Rights and Legal Culture (Russia), Human Rights Center “Memorial” (Russia), Antifascist Youth Action (Russia), Foundation for Civil Society (Russia), Civic Assistance for Refugees (Russia), Citizens’ Watch (Russia), Icumbi Society (Russia), African Unity (Russia), Center for Environmental Public Advocacy (Slovakia), Minority Rights Group – Slovakia (Slovakia), Project Schola (Slovakia), “Hayot Jollazi” (Uzbekistan), Humanitarian Law Center (Yugoslavia), Helsinki Committee for Human Rights (Serbia), European Roma Rights Center; Swedish Helsinki Committee (Sweden), The United Nations Associations of Sweden (Sweden), Expo Foundation (Sweden), Swedish NGO Foundation for Human Rights (Sweden), Save the Children (Sweden), The United Nations Association of Denmark (Denmark), International League for Human Rights (USA).

The statement is open for other NGOs who wish to join.
Please contact Yuri Dzhibladze at 082-379-5768


Contributions by others:



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