NLG Report on UN World Conference Against Racism Part I
Southern Regional Vice President, David Gespass is currently in Durban South Africa, representing the National Lawyers Guild at the UN World Conference Against Racism. He is reporting on the events as they happen:
Brothers and Sisters,
Today was the opening day of the NGO Forum that precedes the UN World Conference Against Racism. This will be a pretty brief report of what I saw, as they will close the room at the site where I got on the 'Net pretty soon and the computers are pretty slow.
The day, for me, was composed of attending the opening ceremony and then registering. I had very little time for workshops and roundtables because the registration process was so long. I woke up to the news that Colin Powell will not attend, the US may not attend at all and Israel will not attend. A press conference was held with members of the Leadership Council on Civil Rights condemning the US government and plans are afoot to create a shadow delegation if the government doesn't send anyone. I recall the slogan of 30 or so years ago, "If the government won't stop the war, we'll stop the government." So, today in Durban, perhaps we will take the stand that if the government won't represent us, we'll represent the government.
The opening ceremonies started with a chorus singing "Smile Africa, there is a new day dawning." Other cultural events were interspersed with speeches (or is it the other way around?), highlights of which were:
A representative of the Youth Summit, which closed yesterday, announced the beginning of an international youth network to take the lessons of Durban around the world, beginning at the local level and building internaitonally;
The president of Sangoko (not sure of the spelling but it's the South African NGO that has organized the forum), Mercia Andrews, promised that the forum would speak about things excluded at the "official" conference - the Dalits and the caste system, Palestine, poverty, globalization, debts, free trade and reparations;
Thabo Mbeke promised that South Africa is a "liberated area" that "shall forever remain a reliable base" in the struggle for a non-racist, non-sexist world. He warned that just because racism and sexism are not proclaimed from the rooftops does not
International Committee home page
NLG Report from Durban South Africa - Part II
NLG Report from Durban South Africa - Part III
NLG Report from Durban South Africa - Part IV
NLG Report from Durban South Africa - Part V