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Point of View - 2004-02-06


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    Statement by Myrna Cunningham of International Steering Committee in presenting the NGO Declaration and Programme of Action to the Chair of the WCAR Plenary


    By Myrna Cunningham

    Mister President:

    We are here to present to the delegates of member states, the outcome of the international process, that NGO's, indigenous peoples and other civil society groups from around the World developed during the preparatory process of this WCAR.

    We participated in regional conferences in Strasbourg/France, Santiago/Chile, Dakar/Senegal, Tehran/Iran, and held NGO conference in Warsaw/Poland, Katmandu/Nepal, Cairo/Egypt, and Quito/Ecuador.

    We held the NGO forum of the WCAR between August 28th and 1 September, here in Durban, with more than 6000 participants from 2000 NGO organized in more than 40 caucuses.

    It was the first time, Mr. Chair, that NGO's, Indigenous Peoples, other sectors

    of the civil society came together to address the issues on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance. It has been a complex and difficult process, at times very hurtful. But we bring to you, today, the NGO's outcome, The Declaration and Program of Action on the understanding, that it reflects those regional processes, but the more important fact, is that it reflects the diverse voices of victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

    Mr. President, the NGO's forum adopted this document and request the member States, the UN system to consider including them in your Declaration and Program of Action.

    The NGO's Declaration and Program of Action has been prepared in two parts.

    The first part - is the Declaration, which has an introduction of 62 paragraphs in which, we reaffirm that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent an inalienable, and that all human beings are entitled to all these rights, irrespective of distinction of any kind such as:



    Co lour,






    Sexual orientation,

    Gender Identity,









    Social/Economic status of origin,

    Health including HIV/AIDS status.

    We recognize the richness of the diversity of cultures, languages, religions and people in the World and the potential within this diversity to create a World free of racism, racial discrimination, genocide, slavery, xenophobia and related intolerance.

    We recognize that racism, racial discrimination, genocide, slavery, xenophobia and related intolerance are based on ideological constructions that assigns to certain group of persons, certain peoples a position of political, economic and social power over other through notions of racial superiority, colour, identity, dominance purity and majority status.

    The NGO's Declaration considers that the roots of many contemporary manifestations of racism and racial discrimination can be located in the legacy of the slave trade, slavery, colonialism and foreign occupation which led to forced transplantation of peoples, massive dispossessions of territories and resources and the destructions of political, religious and social systems for which acknowledgement and reparations were never made, and which created historical injustices based on ideologies of superiority, dominance and purity, the consequence of which continues to this day, and we recognize the right of the victims to reparation of all forms.

    The NGO's Declaration also acknowledges the growth of aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism as expressions of racism and xenophobia. This often leads to large scale human rights violations, discrimination, persecution of targeted groups such as Roma, Kurds, Jews, people from the Caucasus, Central Asia, former Yugoslavia, Chechnya.

    The NGO's Declaration affirm that Indigenous Peoples are bearers of both collective and individual human rights which include their right to self determination and to the legitimate exercise of control over their resource and domination of their territories on the basis of their historical and cultural identity and have the rights and responsibility to transmit to future generations their ancestral territories and identities.

    The Declaration affirm the rights to Self Determination of all peoples including Hawaiian, Kurdish, Kashmir, West Sumatran, West Papuan, Sri Lankars, Tamils, Tibetans, Roma and the no independent territories of the Americas such as Puerto Rico, Martinique and Guadalupe, in that sense we call the United Nation to devise mechanism an procedures that enable the affirmation of that right, Resolution 1359/2001 of Un Security Council on Westerns Sahara.

    We affirm that multiple forms of Discrimination Against women limit or negate women's potential for the full enjoyment and exercise of their human rights and fundamental freedom in all spheres of life, the patriarchal social structures reinforce all forms of discrimination Against women particularly those with disabilities, and that racism also creates other forms of patriarchal subordination of women.

    We are concerned that current forms of globalization and policies of international financial and trade institutions as well as the activities of corporations prevent the full realization of rights of all peoples, maintain and deepen social exclusion of most marginalized groups. It increases exploitation and poverty of documented and undocumented migrants groups and peoples with disabilities.

    The NGO's Declaration affirms the right of the Palestinian peoples to self determination, statehood, independence and freedom and the right of the return as stipulated in UN Resolution 194, and recognizes their situation as a new form of apartheid

    It denounce the strategies of international agreements, such as the Andean Iniciative and The Free Trade Area of the Americas Project, as well as the Plan Colombia which promotes large scale internal displacement, accelerates dispossession and aggression Against Indigenous Peoples, Afro Descendant and peasant communities, leading to the denial of human rights including the right to self determination, causing environmental degradation and growth of militarization in the region.

    We are concerns about increasing anti-Semitism which leads to violence and hate crimes.

    We acknowledge that the Roma, who are a non territorial nation, dispersed in a World wide Diaspora are denied their right to a cultural identity are disadvantaged and experience discrimination. This also aplies to the travelers.

    We recognize that the Caste system discriminates against an enables segregation of communities on the basis of work and descent such as Dalits in South Asia, the Baraku People of Japan, the Osie and Oru People of Nigeria and the Gritos of Senegal.

    We are concerned with the increasing number of refugees an asylum seekers, stateless and internally displaced persons most of the whom are women and children and are more vulnerable to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in the receiving countries and regions.

    We are also concerned that Asian and Asian Descendant face deep seated racism and lack of access to political, economic, and social opportunities.

    We condemns the abuse of all forms of power, geed, and exclusions of victims of environmental racism from decision making, unequal enforcement, non existent of ineffective environmental laws and regulations, manipulation of media and language barriers to perpetuate and conceal the environmental harms to human health, displacement of people, depletion of natural resources and degradation of biodiversity.

    In the second part, the NGO Program of Action recommends legal measures that should be addressed buy the UN/Member States, and civil society, the guidelines principles of acknowledge the past and its impact on the present, is forward looking, and required a concerted and sustained effort from members of the global Community in order to succeed.

    We consider the restoration of dignity to those who have suffered the consequences of racism as central to our humanity. We demand the political will on the part of governments and other political, economic and social actors. This indicate the magnitude of the task and the difficulties that lie ahead in eradicating racism. It requires radical transformation of society, re-ordering of global institutions and that the UN initiate engage and redress current imbalances in global structures with a focus on addressing the cover issue of poverty, inequality and social exclusion.

    We recognize that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and have the capacity to contribute constructively to the development and well-being of their societies and, that all human societies ascribed towards shared values of dignity, equality, justice, tolerance, solidarity, pluralism and multiculturalism.

    The Program of Action defines specific measures and recommendations on:

    African and African Descendants

    Slavery and Slave Trade



    Asian and Asian Descendant

    Criminal Justice and Judicial System

    Dalits and other Communities discriminated against on the basis of work and descend.

    People with disabilities


    Public awareness and access to information

    Training and education for public officials

    Environmental racism

    Ethnic and National Minorities



    Hate Crimes

    Health - HIV/AIDS

    Indigenous Peoples


    Documented and undocumented migrants, migrant workers, refugees, asylum seekers, stateless, displaced persons and members of their families.

    Palestinian and Palestine


    Religious Intolerance

    Roma People


    Sexual Orientation


    Young People and the girl child

    Mr. President, Distinguished Delegates, the NGO's Declaration and Program of Action reflect the diversity of voices in this process, each victim faces feels, experiences, visions, hopes, expresses and live racism and racial discrimination, xenophobia in a particular way. Perhaps it's not expressed in the standard UN languages, but it is the legitimate voice, the proposal and recommendations of the victim.

    We strongly recommend member of States to use the NGO's Declaration and Program of Action for the final adoption of the Declaration and Program of Action of this WCAR.

    The NGO's community of the World, demands policies and programs that effectively address the intersectionality of the multiple form of racism and discrimination.

    In the following up of Durban, we strongly recognize the important role played by young people in the preparation for the follow up.

    Inspired by the slogan of the World Conference Against Racism UNITED TO COMBAT RACISM: Equality, Justice, Dignity, that brought us with hope to Durban, should commit you to develop practical action, oriented, measures and strategies that can enable us to begin us to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. We urge you be careful and not to approve set back in the struggle against racism.

    We saw this WCAR as an important occasion for healing, reconciliation and emancipation of the victim of racism.

    We want to go back home encouraged by the growing universal movement driven by civil society, committed for the creation of a World free from racism.

    The International Steering Committee, SANGOCO, the NGO WCAR Secretariat wishes to tank the South African People, the South African Government, the High Commissioner on Human Rights, Mrs. Robinson, the UN Lyasson Office and most of all the NGO's, Indigenous People and Civil Society that through their commitment, hard work at local, regional and international level, made this vision available.

    Now allow me, Mr. President, to hand over officially, the NGO's Forum Declaration and Program of Action to The World Conference.

    Thank You,

    Posted on 2001-10-03
    World Conference Against Racism @ Asian Legal Recources Centre
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