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The past could defeat UN racism charter
Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2001

Reparation for slavery and colonialism, and the nature of Zionism,
put world conference in jeopardy

(Guardian Unlimited) International negotiators meeting in Geneva have a week to save the UN conference on racism from collapse.
The conference was intended for heads of government but some countries intend to send lesser representatives.

Although many leaders of the developing world are planning to attend, Tony Blair is among the western leaders who will be absent.

The decision whether to send the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, or a junior minister, is being delayed until a judgment can be made on the likely outcome of the meeting.

Diplomats from states planning to attend the conference, due to start in Durban, South Africa, on August 31, have to agree on the wording of a final draft of a declaration on racism for the conference to adopt, and a plan of action. The deadline is Friday.

If they fail some countries are likely to further lower their level of representation, and at at worst the US will withdraw.

Backed by the EU, Washington says it will not endorse a declaration equating Zionism with racism, or containing references to compensation or reparations for slavery and colonialism.

Discrimination, subjugation, and foreign occupation are, in the phrase used by the western camp, "not region specific". India, for example, has fought off an attempt to have its caste system classed as oppressive. [More]

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