Gujral in U.N. group against racism
By K.K. Katyal
NEW DELHI, JUNE 21. The former Prime Minister, Mr. I.K. Gujral, has been included in the Eminent Persons Group, set up by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights for a major global initiative, the World Conference against Racism. It is scheduled to be held in Durban from August 31 to September 7.
As explained by the High Commissioner, Ms. Mary Robinson, in a letter to Mr. Gujral, the key role of the group is to lift the whole debate on racism to a higher political level of awareness.
``The scourges of racism, xenophobia and intolerance,'' she says, ``are difficult problems for both developed and developing countries, and there are particular issues in each region which were identified by a series of inter- governmental regional conferences and expert seminars.
In addition, there have been meetings of NGOs and youth groups in each region which have resulted in a very positive process. For the first time a worldwide civil society alliance against racism is emerging, which can be built on during and after the Durban Conference.''
The Durban Conference, according to her, ``is much more than an event. It is a new stage of an important process.''
Many vulnerable groups such as the Roma in Europe, those of African descent in North America, the Caribbean and Latin America and indigenous people look to the conference with keen expectations.
The High Commissioner is conscious of the delay in the preparation process of negotiating a declaration and a programme of action.
This is ascribed to the complexity and seriousness of the matter, especially different perceptions on whether and how to deal with issues of past slavery and the question of possible compensation or broad measures of reparation.
Under the patronage of Mr. Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, over 75 heads of State and government and Speakers of Parliament had signed a ``visionary declaration'' on the aims to be achieved.
``It is time for moral leadership and inspiration,'' she says.