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Intro: Institutional Racism
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  Web Editor:
  Vernellia R. Randall
Professor of Law
The University of Dayton
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INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION AGAINST TORTURE (IAAT-AICT)  ASOCIACION INTERNACIONAL CONTRA LA TORTURA (AICT),  P.O. BOX 693  - Lincolnton Station,  New York, NY 10037,  (718) 230-5270 (tel) - (718) 230-5273 (fax),


DECEMBER 12th MOVEMENT INTERNATIONAL SECRETARIAT, 456 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11216, USA, (718) 398-1766 (tel) - (718) 623-1855 (fax), (e-mail)



WCAR Review Conference
Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland
23 April 2009


To the Chair:

            The December 12th Movement International Secretariat and the International Association Against Torture make this joint intervention to provide some critical perspective on the Outcome Document to the Review of the World Conference against Racism.


Organizational Background:

            Both our organizations were involved in the process of requesting and then organizing for the World Conference against Racism (WCAR). At the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, 1993, we called for a WCAR and then lobbied for it over the next four years. After the General Assembly passed the 1997 resolution setting the WCAR in 2001, we began organizing both nationally and internationally around three issues which we believed spoke to the essence of racism and its resolution: i) recognition of the economic bases of racism; ii) a declaration of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Slavery and Colonialism as Crimes against Humanity; iii) a demand that compensation/reparations were due the descendants of the victims of these crimes.

            Our organizations, along with the National Black United Front (NBUF), brought a group of 400 members from across the African Diaspora to Durban. “The Durban 400’s” focus was on lobbying states and regional groupings around the three issues and our efforts played a role in the development of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA)


Outcome Document

            By its simple affirmation of support for the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the Outcome Document represents a victory for African people - the victims until Durban I of internationally denied crimes against humanity. On the other hand, the Outcome Document deals a crushing defeat to the WEO (Western European and Other) Group who fought tenaciously and opportunistically to erase Durban I and its advances from the memory of the international community. These advances included: acknowledgment of the economic basis of racism; declaration of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery as Crimes against Humanity; declaration that the descendants of the victims of these crimes were due reparations (compensation).

            The authority of the 183 countries which approved the Outcome Document far outweigh the impact of the futile attempt to discredit the DDPA and Durban II by the cowardly withdrawal of a handful of countries. It is no coincidence that most of those countries which left were the principal perpetrators and/or beneficiaries of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery. Their furtive retreat was an unsuccessful effort to avoid: i) in the particular, their historical obligation to pay reparations to the descendants of the victims of their criminal activity; and ii) in the general, exposure and criticism of the fact that between 2001-2009 they had taken no actions at all to fulfill their commitments to the DDPA.


A Brief History

            These latest attempts by WEO to avoid international condemnation of and the demand to pay reparations for its racist, white supremacist, colonial history are not new

            * WEO unsuccessfully attempted to remove Racism as a Commission on Human Rights agenda item shortly after the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa.

            * WEO resisted calling for a World Conference against Racism and Racial Discrimination until the rest of the world agreed to dilute the focus on white supremacy by expanding its mandate to include “Xenophobia and All Forms of Related Intolerance.”

            *  WEO applied unrelenting pressure prior to and during the Durban World Conference, trying to force the African Group to drop the language declaring the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery as a Crime Against Humanity” and recognition of the rights to reparations for the victims’ descendants.

            *  WEO took the unprecedented step of trying to reopen the DDPA after the World Conference had ended in an attempt to erase the language cited above

            *  WEO lobbied against a Durban +5 follow-up, the standard procedure for every World Conference held since the 1990s.

            * WEO opposed holding this 5 day WCAR Review.

            *  WEO threatened to boycott this WCAR Review unless the essence of the DDPA was so  diluted as to have no significance.


Reparations, Economics and the Right to Development

     WEO has conducted a massive propaganda campaign to discredit the concept of Reparations for People of African Descent by framing it solely in terms of money. The demand for reparations is, in the first instance, a demand to repair the damage done by criminal activity; to make the victims whole and to implement their human right to development. The demand for reparations is a call to eradicate the economic exploitation and inequality which are the roots of racism. It is a demand for the provision of and direction of sufficient resources to allow the unhindered development of the African-descendant collectivities of underdevelopment created by racism.



            The Outcome Document is an important step in the process of the international community breaking with the old, colonial, 20th century way of doings things. The UN’s largest donors, i.e. WEO can no longer hold the majority of humanity hostage because it refuses to be accountable to the same human rights standards it demands the rest of the world adhere to.

We propose the following immediatesteps:

* Preparation to begin now for the convening of Durban +10;

* Establishment of a Permanent UN Forum on People of African Descent;

* Provision of Reparations to the descendants of the victims of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery.

            We have not fallen for the diversions, i.e. baseless allegations that criticism of Zionism = Anti-Semitism; that withdrawal by some countries will discredit the Review Process. We salute those countries, e.g. Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Barbados, Cuba which have expressed support for reparations during this week. We emerge  re-energized and even more committed to rekindling the spirit of the Durban 400 and achieving our demand for reparations. Thank you.


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