Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Brethren representative attends UN conference on racism.

Church of the Brethren representative Doris Abdullah is attending the United Nations’ Durban Review Conference, an anti-racism event being held in Geneva, Switzerland, April 20-24. Brethren participation has been accredited by the UN Human Rights Council, and Abdullah is attending as an NGO (non-governmental organization) representative. She regularly serves as a member of the UN’s NGO Sub-Committee for the Elimination of Racism.

The Durban Review Conference is an international event to review and evaluate progress towards the goals set by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.

The event has become controversial, with the US and several other countries boycotting it based in part on a document they say singles out Israel for criticism and conflicts with free speech, according to CNN. On the first day, remarks by President Ahmadinejad of Iran sparked the walk-out of several national delegations, "as he accused Israel of having a ‘racist government’ and committing genocide," CNN reported. Ahmadinejad was the first speaker at the conference because he was the only head of state to respond to the invitation, a spokesperson told CNN.

Abdullah said that "many detours have been placed along the way, but the conference will go forward," in an e-mail sent before she left for Geneva. At that time only two countries--Israel and Canada--were nonparticipants, and the United States was still debating its participation.

"The original declaration addressed past manifestations as well as the contemporary forms of racial discrimination and presented a road-map for the international community and civil society to take to put an end to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and to prevent their future occurrence," Abdullah said. "The international community agreed in 2001 for a followup meeting to assess where the 192 states of the United Nations and Civil Society are in the implementation of the 2001 Durban Declaration."

Abdullah reported that interested Brethren may follow the conference via an Internet link, go to to access reports and webcasts.

Source: 4/22/2009 Newsline

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