Poverty, underdevelopment caused by slavery and colonisation

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- A number of government ministers from developing countries have told the World Conference Against Racism in Durban that many of the problems facing their nations, including poverty and underdevelopment, were linked to slavery and colonialism.
They blamed racial prejudice for the diminished economic activity in their countries and said the wrongs could only be rectified by clear acknowledgements of the past by the oppressing countries, and by creating schemes for compensation.
"Let us accept that even as we gather here today, racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance affect our attitudes towards one another and even our attempts to develop a common understanding of how to handle the attendant social, political and economic divisiveness," said Enoch Kavindele, Vice President of Zambia.
"Even as we pledge total commitment to the cause of African people as chair of the African Union, we recognize the daunting task of ensuring peace and harmony on the continent.
"The Union will strive to develop effective conflict-resolution mechanisms, with early warning signals that can prevent future catastrophes.
"Many such conflicts are embedded in old racial and tribal/ethnic discriminatory practices, especially where the discrimination manifests itself in the allocation or deprivation of resources by one ethnic/tribal group over another.
" A number of speakers urged the Conference to recognize that slavery was a crime against humanity.
Other high-ranking government officials touched on several additional issues, such as the situation between Israel and Palestine, rights of migrant workers, the right to decent employment, the importance of education and the role of the Internet.
Tanzania's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Jakaya Kikwete, said the slave trade and colonization of Africa in the 19th century are largely responsible for the poverty, underdevelopment and marginalization that enveloped the continent and people of African descent.
After hundreds of years of living under those systems, he said, the consequences live on and will continue to be felt for many years to come.
Christopher Obure, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kenya, said the Conference provided the ideal opportunity to meaningfully address the damage inflicted upon millions of people by slavery and colonization.
Only in that way, he said, "can this Conference go down in history as a success; one that would change the lives of millions of individuals worldwide for the better".
Ernest Tjriange, Minister of Justice of Namibia, said the establishment of an international compensation scheme for victims of the slave trade and a development reparation fund should be established.
Those mechanisms were outlined in the 1999 African Declaration on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which was adopted in Dakar, Senegal.
He emphasized that the Conference could not work out those details - it could only affirm the principle that such mechanisms were necessary.
Some speakers from European countries expressed regret for past actions.
Baroness Amos of Brondesbury, the Minister for Africa in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, called slavery and the slave trade among the most dishonourable and abhorrent chapters in the history of humanity.
Farouk Al Shara, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Syria, charged Israel with racism, saying the practice of killing Palestinians was the most serious danger facing the peoples of the Middle East.
If such practices continued, the idea of peace with Arabs was unattainable, he maintained.
The Conference, which continues through Friday, has set as a goal, adopting a Declaration and Programme of Action that can be used as a framework by individual countries to promote policies of tolerance and protect citizens from all forms of discrimination.

03 september 2001 09:41:00




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