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Texts adopted
Wednesday, 3 October 2001 - Strasbourg Final edition
Conclusions of the UN Conference on racism ***I
B5-0605, 0606, 0607, 0609 and 0610/2001

European Parliament resolution on the World Conference against Racism in Durban

The European Parliament,

-  having regard to Articles 6, 7 and 29 of the Treaty on European Union and Article 13 of the EC Treaty, which commit the European Union and its Member States to observe high standards of human rights and non-discrimination, and to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

-  having regard to the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the 1995 Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,

-  having regard to Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin(1) ,

-  having regard to the EU's preparations for the World Conference, in particular the European Parliament resolution of 5 July 2001 on human rights in the world(2) containing its recommendation on the European Union's position at the World Conference,

-  having regard to the declaration adopted by the European Preparatory Conference "All Different-All Equal" in Strasbourg on 13 October 2000,

-  having regard to the framework agreement of 5 July 2000 on relations between the European Parliament and the Commission(3) ,

-  having regard to the Commission's Communication on the European Union's role in promoting human rights and democratisation in third countries (COM(2001) 252 ) and to the Conclusions of the Council of 16 June 2001 on the same Communication,

A.  whereas the European Union, in developing an area of freedom, security and justice, not only has a major role alongside Member States in efforts to root out racism and racial discrimination within the EU but also has the opportunity to play a constructive role on the international scene, as racism and discrimination based on race and ethnic origin are fundamentally against the objectives of the EU externally as well as internally,

B.  whereas in reaching political agreement on a final declaration and on an Action Programme on 8 September 2001, the Conference sent a message to the world and represented a step forward towards the elimination of all forms of contemporary racism and xenophobia, even if it did not succeed in meeting all expectations,

C.  whereas those negotiations were particularly difficult because the questions of reparation for victims of slavery and the Middle East conflict dominated and overshadowed the planned proceedings,

D.  recognising the long-term suffering caused by Europe's historical experiences, and welcoming the recognition that Zionism is not racism and that the Holocaust was a unique event in world history,

E.  whereas the European Union through the Presidency, represented by Louis Michel, President-in-Office of the Council, played a pivotal role in securing the final agreement,

F.  whereas the role which the European Parliament delegation in particular but also the Commission was able to play in the Conference failed to properly or fully reflect the growing EU responsibilities in this field; regretting moreover that the Commission was only represented at the level of officials and that not all Member States were represented at the level of senior ministers,

G.  whereas a large amount of EU funds (EUR 3.7 million) was allocated to support the participation of NGOs and low income countries in four regional preparatory conferences and the World Conference itself,

1.  Welcomes the fact that the Conference managed to reach agreement on a final declaration, which will serve as a basis for the worldwide fight against racism and discrimination based on race and ethnic origin;

2.  Congratulates the European Union on managing to steer the Conference to a compromise on the final declaration, in particular through the efforts of the President-in-Office of the Council, thus preventing a complete collapse and securing an acceptable outcome, but urges the European Union to continue to develop its international capacity and its preparedness for the expectations held of it;

3.  Regrets the fact that the NGO Forum prior to the World Conference produced a "shadow" declaration which was on some points so extreme in its language and demands that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was unable to recommend it to the World Conference, and some NGOs disassociated themselves from the decision, thus weakening the reputation and influence of civil society;

4.  Considers that in the light of the scope of the Durban Conference on Racism and in view of the very public and regrettable difficulties that arose at different levels during the lengthy negotiating process it would have been preferable if more preparatory work had been carried out to secure unanimous agreement on the final conclusions and calls upon the UN to look at the organisation of future forums, to provide for a new Conference in ten years" time and to look at how future NGO Forums will be organised so as to prevent single-interest groups from hijacking the events;

5.  Takes note that the European Union agreed to wordings in the final declaration on slavery, the slave trade and colonialism that went further than initially foreseen in the EU common position, while avoiding the question of reparation for victims of these practices;

6.  Welcomes the recognition of the evil of slavery and slave-trade practices, which would, if committed today, be considered crimes against humanity; especially welcomes the fact that discrimination against Roma and Sinti people has been recognised for the first time at international level, but regrets that the final declaration failed to mention the discrimination against the Dahlit people;

7.  Welcomes the support in the declaration for the "New Africa Initiative" and calls for the further assistance promised for promoting democracy and political governance in Africa;

8.  Underlines the need to focus on the concrete measures agreed upon in Durban to fight racism, xenophobia and discrimination, and for the European Union to support and facilitate the implementation of the measures through National Action Plans in the European Union and to take a leading international role in strengthening other countries" ability to fight racism, xenophobia and discrimination;

9.  Calls for further examination of the way in which the EU can deploy the full weight of its potential influence on international human rights and anti-discrimination work, including levels of political representation and a revision of the interinstitutional framework agreement of 5 July 2000, which should better respond to the increasing responsibilities of the European Union and its institutions in international forums, notably the United Nations;

10.  Urges the EU to encourage actions to combat intolerance, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism;

11.  Calls on the Commission to examine how the EU funds for the Conference were allocated and spent;

12.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission and to the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 180, 19.7.2000, p. 22.
(2) Texts Adopted, Item 13.
(3) OJ C 121, 24.4.2001, p. 122.

Last updated: 14 April 2004Legal notice