ERRC Dissociates Itself From WCAR NGO Forum


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Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2001 17:26:56 +0300 (EEST)
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Subject: ERRC Dissociates Itself From WCAR NGO Forum

From: MINELRES moderator <minelres@mailbox.riga.lv>

Original sender: European Roma Rights Center <errc@errc.org>

ERRC Dissociates Itself From WCAR NGO Forum


ERRC DISSOCIATES ITSELF FROM WCAR NGO FORUM
PRESS STATEMENT  
SEPTEMBER 5, 2001

The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) is saddened to conclude that it
cannot endorse the 72-page NGO Declaration and Programme of Action
submitted yesterday to the organisers of the World Conference against
Racism in Durban on behalf of the NGO Forum. "These documents contain
inappropriate language fuelling precisely the kind of hatred and
racism the Durban gathering was meant to challenge," said Dimitrina
Petrova, Executive Director of ERRC. "We cannot but deplore the fact
that an event of such importance for Roma and other victims of
discrimination was apparently hijacked by biased activists, forcing
through their own agenda. The aggressive exclusion of Jewish
participants by fellow NGO colleagues and the accompanying, blatantly
intolerant anti-Semitic spirit plaguing the entire process, prompted
us to firmly distance ourselves from this Forum's unfortunate outcome.
Along with numerous other organisations and individuals of goodwill,
we will continue to press for a final conference text which faithfully
reflects the purposes for which so many have come to Durban."

ERRC was among the more than 50 NGOs, predominantly from Central and
Eastern Europe,  who co-signed the September 3, 2001 Statement
protesting the NGO Forum process and its resulting documents. The text
of this Statement follows:


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

_____________________________________________

The European Roma Rights Center is an international public interest
law organisation which monitors the rights of Roma and provides legal
defence in cases of human rights abuse. For more information about the
European Roma Rights Center, visit the ERRC on the web at
http://www.errc.org

European Roma Rights Center
1386 Budapest 62
P.O. Box 906/93
Hungary


Phone: +36 1 4132200
Fax:   +36 1 4132201

_____________________________________________

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