Major breakthrough achieved at WCAR over slavery issue

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- In a major breakthrough at the World Conference Against Racism, agreement has been reached on how to address the issue of slavery in the final declaration.
The deadlock was broken in the early hours of Saturday when European Union and African negotiators agreed that slavery should be recognised as a crime against humanity, particularly the trans-Atlantic slave trade which impacted on millions of Africans.
The declaration will now state that Africans and people of African descent, Asians and people of Asian descent and indigenous people were the victims, and continued to be the victims of those practices.
In another major development, the two sides agreed that colonialism would not be recognised in the final conference declaration as a crime against humanity.
Speaking to journalists Friday night, European Council president Louis Michel said issues surrounding reparations have not been "entirely resolved.
" "Slavery today is of course a crime against humanity.
Slavery yesterday in the past was of course a very grave thing, very awful, but it's very difficult to compare them - philosophically there is a difference.
" The African bloc had called for an explicit apology from states that practised, benefited or enriched themselves from slavery, the slave trade and colonialism and for reparations to be made.
However, in a bid to ensure a successful conference, African countries compromised on their earlier hard-line position on reparations.
Fears that the Middle East issue would derail the entire conference appear to be unfounded after Muslim countries agreed to tone down their description of Israel which had angered the US and Israeli governments.
UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson had earlier expressed her concern about inflammatory language, which included the description of Israel as an apartheid state.
The Conference, which will now end on Saturday, has set as a goal adopting a Declaration and Programme of Action that can be used as a framework by individual countries, governments and their civil society partners to promote policies of tolerance and further protect citizens from all forms of discrimination.

08 september 2001 11:02:00

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