Progress in substantial negotiations for a major anti-racism conference in April

Government representatives have completed their first week of substantive negotiations on text that will become the draft outcome document of a major anti-racism conference to be held in Geneva in April.

Diplomats meeting in Geneva negotiate the wording of what will become the draft outcome document for a major anti-racism conference to be held in April. - © OHCHR PhotoThe up-coming conference will review progress and assess implementation – at national, regional and international levels – of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, which was adopted at the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in Durban, South Africa.

A working group, formally known as the intersessional open-ended intergovernmental working group, was set up to negotiate and finalize a draft outcome document for the Durban Review Conference and is open to participation by all UN Member States and observers. It held its first formal negotiating session in Geneva from January 19 to 23.

At the start of the session, members of the working group agreed that a 38-page document submitted to them by the working group Chair would serve as the basis for further negotiations.

The document is based on text that had originally been compiled from proposals put forward by six different regional and other groups. The Chair of the intergovernmental working group, Russian Diplomat Yuri Boychenko, had already completed a “technical review” of the compilation of proposals, streamlining and rationalizing it, and reducing the initial text from more than 130 pages to 38.

In their January session, government representatives completed what the Chair of the working group described as a “solid” first read-through of approximately 40 per cent of the document. “We understand each other’s positions and constraints now and we will continue the process in open-ended informal meetings,” he said.

“Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance exist in all countries. Everyone recognizes this problem. Our discussions have been enlightening and I hope will make it easier for us all to find common ground in the negotiations to follow,” Mr. Boychenko added.

The negotiations will continue in informal meetings until the next formal session of the working group, which will be held 6-10 April. The Preparatory Committee for the Review Conference – also open to all Member States and charged with organization of the Conference and overseeing negotiations towards an outcome document - will hold its final session from 15-17 April. The Review Conference itself will be held from 20-24 April at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

February 2009