Subject: [fem-women2000 701] FWD: WCAR Update 23 from Isis International-Manila
From: Makoto TERANAKA <>
Date: Tue, 04 Sep 2001 16:51:44 +0900
Seq: 701

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Date: Tue, 04 Sep 2001 13:44:22 +0800
>From: Kathy Clarin <>
Subject: WCAR Update 23 from Isis International-Manila

In closing, NGO Forum proposes stronger, more specific references to 

The final Declaration and Programme of Action from the NGO Forum at the 
World Conference Against Racism, Xenophobia and Related Discrimination is 
still awaited three days after it closed. Much-debated drafts of the output 
documents have been floated, with differences ultimately persisting over 
positions on Palestine and Tibet.

Israeli non-government organizations (NGOs) inserted text stating that 
anti-Zionism is equal to anti-Semitism. Put against the background of the 
Holocaust, which the Israelis repeatedly highlighted, Palestine supporters 
had a hard time of it to have the text changed even as they argued that the 
two cannot be equated.

Almost every thematic and regional caucus at the gathering expressed 
concern with the fact that the Palestine issue had overshadowed all other 
issues. Even organisations of other displaced and violated peoples  most 
fighting for the right to self-determination  had little space to air their 
views. These included Tibetans, Kurds, Berbers and Hawaiians, among others.

While the Draft NGO Declaration highlighted the plight of the Kurds, the 
Tibetans were horrified to find not a single mention of their problems. 
Other smaller organisations, such as the Oromia Support Group, working to 
bring to international attention, the violent repression of the Oromo 
people in Ethiopia, have made independent "contributions" to the official 
Working Group finalising the WCAR Declaration.

The indigenous people's caucus was one of the best organised and coherent 
during the meetings. Led by the indigenous communities from North and Latin 
America, they were able to make clear stances and to lobby in order to gain 
the sympathy of NGOs around the world. The final recommendations emphasised 
indigenous peoples' right to decision-making, self-determination and also 
linked their problems to environmental racism.

Many indigenous peoples' NGO representatives, however, expressed the 
opinion that there is insufficient mention of them in those sections of the 
Draft Declaration not directly focused on indigenous peoples, in paragraphs 
of issues such as reparations and migration.

One of the most positive outcomes of the conference was the establishment 
of linkages between several groups working with migrant workers. Groups in 
Asia, especially  Indonesian NGOs with Arab organisations, Bangladeshi 
groups with Malaysian and Hong Kong-based NGOs with others from south and 
southeast Asia  set out concrete plans of action to deal with problems of 
migrant communities.

Another positive evidence of the conference was that the gender perspective 
has become mainstreamed. 'Intersectionality' was a running theme through 
every debate, the main focus of 'inter-sectional' discrimination being the 
double discrimination faced by women  as women and as ... migrants, 
refugees, black, dalits .... However, it was pointed out by the caucus on 
media that the racial stereotyping of women in mass media continues.

The media caucus also higlighted the use of media and the new information 
and communications technologies in the propagation of hate speech. 
Participants in the caucus agreed that hate speech must be prohibited by 
enforcing codes of conduct with strict anti-racism standards and other 
self-regulatory mechanisms.

The caucus on caste, while it was unhappy about the lack of support from 
the intergovernmental meeting, had the satisfaction of having the Draft NGO 
Declaration clearly spell out that "caste-based" and "work and descent" 
related discrimination are issues requiring UN intervention. Caste-based 
discrimination has been squarely put before the international community for 
the first time by activists. The movement initiated by Indian NGOs expanded 
to a more universal reckoning with NGOs from Nepal, Bangladesh, Japan, 
Nigeria and Senegal joining in with accounts of similar caste- or work- and 
descent-based discrimination in their countries.

Among other groups whose voices were little heard during deliberations  not 
all of who have their points of view expressed even in the NGO 
Declaration  are the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual groups as well 
as groups advocating spirituality. A number of these organizations have, 
however, submitted independent contributions to the working group working 
on finalising the WCAR Declaration.

Among others who have made independent contributions to the Working Group 
are indigenous peoples' organizations from the Americas and Europe, the 
European Women's Lobby group, and the international Human Rights Watch. The 
Human Right Watch has laid particular emphasis on bringing caste-based 
discrimination to the attention of the international community.

As South African Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, President of 
the WCAR, still awaits the NGO recommendations, government deliberations 
over the text of the official Declaration has got well underway. The delay 
in the resolution of the NGO Declaration means that their recommendations 
are less likely to influence the official Declaration.

At the opening of the WCAR, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan 
said that "every country has some form of discrimination" and that all 
delegates to the conference must return to their homelands with concrete 

All at the WCAR must assuredly agree, but sharp differences in the 
interpretations of what are effective and concrete plans are inevitably 
delaying decision-making.

 From the WCAR Media Team of ISIS International-Manila.

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