Czechs respond to World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia

Following WW II, the United Nations drafted guidelines and principles of action for its members on such topics as racism and racial discrimination. Despite continuing efforts by the international community, racial discrimination, ethnic conflicts and widespread violence persist in various parts of the world. Nicole Klement and Vladimir Tax have the story.

In the hope of tackling the international issues of racial discrimination UN delegates from all over the world recently gathered in Durban, South Africa for The World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia. Despite heated disputes over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the legacy of slavery in the 19th century, the conference eventually adopted a framework for preventing the growth of ethnic hatred and violent conflicts.

Radio Prague's Ita Dungan talked to Alexandr Svoboda, a member of the Czech Foreign Ministry's delegation to Durban, about the Czech Republic's role in the conference.

"The Czech Republic and its experts were members of so called G-21, that means a group of 21 nations, 21 states, which formulated the text for both final documents, that means declarations and programs of actions during meetings of preparatory committees and also in between of them."

And were there any concrete proposals that the Czech delegation brought home with them that they could put into action, in the Czech Republic to fight the problems of neo-Nazis and general racism and intolerance in the Czech Republic.

"It's difficult to specify, one or two, or even several aspects or measures which are more important for the Czech Republic than others. Let me quote one paragraph concerning the Roma population- "The Final declaration is recognising, with deep concern, the ongoing manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Including violence against Roma, Gypsies, Sinti or travellers and recognise the need to develop effective policies and implement mechanisms for their full achievement of equality."

You said that the Durban conference was successful, despite all the problems and all the uphill battles. Do you see this kind of conference, in general, as being a way forward to try and get nations to discuss problems within a larger group of nations.

"Definitely yes, of course a conference like this. So called major united nations conference are being taken as a milestone in their respective area. I believe that the responsibility should be - and this also can be seen in the final documents of Durban - primarily directed at the future. In this case much greater attention is to be devoted to the prevention of racism, xenophobia and intolerance and practical measures in preventing those phenomena."

Author: Ita Dungan
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