Thursday, March 26, 2009

PANW Editor Signs Appeal For Obama Administration to Support and Participate in the United Nations Durban Review Against Racism

Urgent Appeal for the Obama Administration to Fully Support and Participate in the U.N. Durban Review Conference Against Racism in April in Geneva

To Sign the Petition Just Click on the Website Below:

To: President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, Congressional leaders, Durban Review Conference Preparations Committee Chair Ms. Janat Al-Hajjaji, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Navanethem Pillay, U.N. General Assembly President d'Escoto-Brockmann, U.N. Secretary General Ban, members of the U.N. Security Council and U.N. member states including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Syria Venezuela, Sudan, Nepal, Pakistan, Oman, Mozambique, Libya, Miyanmar, Lebanon and others, and Major media representatives including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, Reuters, Al Jazeera, the North Africa Journal, Egypt Today, the Beirut Times, the Jakarta Post, and the Sudan Mail.

I strongly support the participation of the United States in the Global UN Conference Against Racism scheduled to be held in Geneva, Switzerland from 20 - 24 April of this year.

It is an embarrassment for the Obama Administration to continue the Bush Administration's practice of refusing dialogue with others. Moreover, given the painful history of racism in the U.S. it is shameful for America to refuse to participate in a conference against racism.

All those who oppose racism and other similar forms of discrimination had hoped and expected that the Obama Administration, a source of great hope for change with a new agenda, would embrace the historic significance of this international gathering against racism.

The 2001 UN Conference on Racism held eight years ago in Durban, South Africa had the overwhelming support of people of the world - both through their governments and through thousands of delegates representing many hundreds of NGOs and organs of civil society.

Midway through that historic gathering the U.S. and Israel walked out because the latter was criticized for its apartheid practices against Palestinians. The Bush Administration also opposed concrete action to redress the history of hundreds of years of slavery and racism. How can we ever resolve these issues without participative dialogue?

In preparing for the April Conference against Racism the majority of countries from Latin America, Asia, and Africa, have shown an extraordinary willingness to operate on principles of open-minded compromise and dialogue with the United States. Rejection of this offer by refusing to even come to the table will be seen as an arrogant assault on the processes of diplomacy and will encourage the international community to brand the United States administration as one obstructing the struggle against racism.

I am shocked that the U.S. has also supported the marginalization of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the Durban Review Conference, seeking to ensure that they are not able to participate or that their freedom of speech is strictly limited, for example, by failing to support an NGO Forum.

NGO participation, often through NGO Forums, has been an indispensable part of every major UN human rights conference. It is therefore essential that the Preparatory Committee and the High Commissioner for Human Rights make every effort possible to provide the resources and logistics for a vigorous public mobilization for the UN Durban Review Conference.

I urge the Preparatory Committee to take immediate steps to carry out their responsibility to facilitate NGO participation, especially the participation of NGOs from developing countries who have suffered the most from racism and other similar forms of discrimination.

I urge the Obama Administration to participate in this international gathering without threats or preconditions and in a spirit of mutual respect for all other nations, especially those whose people have suffered so grievously from racism.

Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire

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