Racism issues unresolved as WCAR deadline draws near

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- It is still not certain whether a consensus would be reached on a final declaration at the World Conference against Racism, as negotiators scramble to agree on a number of controversies.
Formal drafting committees have been working round the clock on non-controversial sections of the draft leaving negotiators to clear the final hurdles, notably on Zionism and reparations for slavery.
In the last 24 hours negotiators have been tackling the remaining 63 paragraphs of the declaration, most of which are controversial.
The others were adopted at the Geneva preparatory committee meetings and working sessions in Durban.
Despite the 11th-hour deadlock on aspects of the declaration, several important concessions appear to have been made.
In a bid to ensure a successful conference, African countries appear ready to compromise on their earlier hard-line position on reparations.
"The African group is demonstrating the necessary flexibility in accommodating the views of other groups and in adjusting the language of its position paper in a spirit of compromise intended to move the process forward and to ensure the success of the conference," a statement from the African bloc said.
Among the demands were that the WCAR recognise that slavery, the slave trade, colonialism, apartheid and genocide are crimes against humanity.
The group has also 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.
The European Union (EU) has rejected all calls for an apology, but says it is prepared to express remorse or regret.
A compromise could see both camps agreeing to assist Africa with a developmental aid programme.
European and Arab positions over Israel's treatment of the Palestinians were still widely divergent late Thursday.
Among other unresolved issues in the declaration is a paragraph calling on all states to eliminate discrimination based on work and descent.
Members of the Indian Dalit "untouchable" caste announced on Thursday that they were embarking on a hunger strike to ensure that the Indian government does not block the paragraph.

06 september 2001 18:50:00

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