Still no breakthrough as WCAR draws to a close

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- With just hours remaining before the close of the World Conference Against Racism, hopes that delegates would resolve their differences on key issues and secure a consensus, have all but fizzled out.
The Conference, which is expected to end Friday, 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.
Frantic last minute negotiations on the Middle East and slavery issues have failed to find middle ground and negotiators agree that the successes that have been achieved at the weeklong event have been limited.
South African President Thabo Mbeki returned to Durban on Thursday night in a last-ditch attempt to break the deadlock.
He has held talks with key participants, including Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel who is leading the EU group at the conference.
By early Friday, negotiators were dealing respectively with the Middle East question, issues relating to the legacy of the past, the grounds of racism and the list of victims of racism.
Besides the two working groups and the four informal groups, there have been more than 50 informal consultation groups negotiating the difficult issues.
The US and Israel earlier this week recalled their delegations in protest against language in draft conference documents which they viewed as "anti-Semitic".
The Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations said that despite the setbacks at the WCAR, their pleas were being heard and that they were all committed in different ways to form a global alliance against racism.
However difficult the negotiations might be, the Conference of NGOs still believed the WCAR would be a milestone in a process leading to a new era in which racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance would be tossed "into the dustbin of history".
The official closing ceremony of the WCAR will be held Friday afternoon.

07 september 2001 10:42:00

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