UN racism meeting recommits to goals but renews old divides

22 September 2021, 17:44

UN General Assembly
UN General Assembly. Picture: PA

Looking back on the two decades since the conference in Durban, South Africa, the assembly adopted a resolution that acknowledged some progress.

The UN General Assembly has pledged to redouble efforts to combat racism around the world, commemorating a landmark but contentious 2001 anti-racism conference by holding an anniversary meeting once again riven with divisions.

Looking back on the two decades since the conference in Durban, South Africa, the assembly adopted a resolution that acknowledged some progress but deplored what it called a rise in discrimination, violence and intolerance directed at people of African heritage and many other groups — from the Roma to refugees, the young to the old, people with disabilities to people who have been displaced.

Vowing “to accelerate momentum to make the fight against racism… a high priority for our countries,” the measure pointed to the effects of slavery, colonialism and genocide and called for ensuring that people of African descent can seek “adequate reparation or satisfaction” through national institutions.

It also noted ills caused by religious prejudices, specifically including anti-Muslim, antisemitic and anti-Christian bias.

But Israel, the United States and some other countries — at least 19 nations in all, by Israel’s count — boycotted the meeting because of continued grievances about the Durban meeting 20 years ago, where the US and Israel walked out because participants drafted a conference declaration that denounced Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

And Jamaica, while joining Wednesday’s meeting, complained there weren’t sufficient calls for slavery reparations in a new political declaration that was drafted but apparently stalled over disagreements.

Still, the event — coinciding with the assembly’s annual meeting of world leaders — spotlighted the cause of racial equality at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has underscored inequities, and as the 2020 police killing of George Floyd in the US has re-energised racial justice movements around the world.

“As we strive to correct the wrongs of the past, we must combat racism, sexism and national chauvinism of the present,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa told the gathering via video.

“Just as we have united to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Let us recommit ourselves to implement” the promises made in Durban, he added. “Ending racism is a fight in which each of us has a stake.”

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

George W Bush pictured with Colin Powell in 2002

Bush and Blair lead tributes to Colin Powell after death aged 84

Earthshot 2021

Revealed: List of winners awarded £1million by Duke of Cambridge for Earthshot Prize 2021

Millionaire Robert Durst is believed to have killed three people.

Millionaire murderer on ventilator with Covid days after sentencing

Former PM Gordon Brown wants to send over a billion vaccines to low-income countries

Gordon Brown calls for emergency vaccine airlift to poorer nations

The US has "no idea" how the Chinese managed to make such progress on hypersonic missiles

China fires hypersonic missile around globe before striking target

A British Airways plane takes off as the resumption of UK – US flights was confirmed

UK – US flights to resume from 8 November after 19-month ban

Officers arrested the suspect after 30 minutes

Norway bow and arrow attack 'appears to be act of terror' as five killed

Police in Florida arrested the man on Tuesday

Man arrested after toddler found gun and shot mother dead during work Zoom call

Police officers cordon off the scene in Kongsberg

Five people killed after man goes on bow and arrow rampage in Norwegian town

Billy Hood has been jailed for 25 years

London football coach jailed for 25 years in Dubai over cannabis oil found in car

Blue Origin Launch.

Lift off! William Shatner soars into orbit on Blue Origin rocket

William Shatner take part in New Shepard spacecraft crew

Watch: William Shatner blasts off into space

Pen Farthing had staff and animals from his charity Nowzad evacuated from Afghanistan

Pen Farthing talks of 'total relief' as charity staff are flown into UK

Superman comes out as bisexual in DC's latest comic book.

Superman comes out as bisexual in DC's new comic book series

The northern flank of the volcano collapsed over the weekend, triggering new lava flows.

La Palma volcano partially collapses, spewing 'explosive bombs' of molten rock

Fuel stations and power plants in Lebanon have been forced to close.

Energy crisis: Warnings of blackouts in India and China and gas prices soar in Europe