Africa: Racism Declaration, 02/01/01

Africa: Racism Declaration, 02/01/01

Africa: Racism Declaration Date distributed (ymd): 010202 Document reposted by APIC

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Region: Continent-Wide Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+
+security/peace+ Summary Contents: This posting contains the declaration of the official African Regional Preparatory Conference for the World Conference against Racism. According to a UN press release dated Jan. 25, 2001, the draft declaration below was approved by the ministers. The conference also adopted a set of recommendations for a programme of action ( An African NGO Forum met on January 20-21, preceding the official conference. For the NGO declaration see

Additional websites with conference information and further links include:

For a previous posting with additional background and links see

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24 JANUARY 2001



We, African Ministers, meeting at Dakar from 22 to 24 January 2001, within the framework of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, in accordance with the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 52/111,

1. Recalling the values and principles of human dignity and equality enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Charter of the United Nations, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, the international Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and all other related international instruments,

2. Recalling also the great importance African peoples attach to the values of solidarity, tolerance and multiculturalism, which constitute the moral ground and the inspiring source for our struggle against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, an inhuman tragedy for which Africa has been suffering exceptionally for too long;

3. Realising the urgent need to resuscitate and to reinvigorate those cherished values, and that the World Conference against Racism is a historical opportunity to achieve these objectives, its outcome should therefore be result-oriented and contain added value in relation to existing mechanisms;

4. Recalling also the principles established by positive international law including the imprescriptibility of crimes against humanity;

5. Stressing that the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance is a mammoth task, the proof from the most recent African experience being the enormous African sacrifices and unabated struggle for decades before Africa could convince the rest of the world of the imperative and urgent necessity to dismantle an abhorrent institutionalized racist system of apartheid;

6. Recognising that racism, racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance affect women differently, aggravate their living conditions, generate multiple forms of violence, thus limiting or denying enjoyment of their human rights;

7. Bearing in mind that availing ourselves of this historical opportunity requires political will, intellectual integrity, and analytical capacity to draw lessons from past experiences with the view to avoiding their recurrence in the future;

8. Expressing in this regard our sincere appreciation and paying tribute to countries and personalities, all over the world, who lent their valuable support to Africa during its struggle against institutionalised racism, colonialism and apartheid;

9. Also acknowledging the important role of African and international non-governmental organisations, the media, national institutions and civil society in the fight against racism and encouraging them to intensify their endeavours in this respect;


10. Salute the memory of all victims of racism and racial discrimination, colonialism and apartheid all over the world.

11. Note with grave concern that, despite the efforts of the international community, the principal objectives of the two Decades for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination have not been attained and that millions of human beings continue to this day to be victims of varied, evolving and sophisticated contemporary forms of racism and racial discrimination, in particular nationals of different origin, migrant workers, asylum seekers, refugees and foreigners.

12. Express concern that beyond the material progression of racism is the disturbing fact that contemporary forms and manifestations of racism are striving to regain political, moral and even legal recognition in many ways, including through some legislative prescriptions such as those related to the freedom of expression, platforms of some political parties and organisations as well as dissemination through modern communication technologies of ideas based on racial superiority.

13. Regret the flagrant contradiction that in an era where globalization and technology have contributed considerably to moving people close together, the international community is evidently receding from the notion of "human family" based on equality, dignity and human solidarity.

14. Bear in mind that although the African continent has regrettably suffered ethnic violence including instances of genocidal acts, this is not exclusively a racial phenomenon but has so many deeply rooted national and international dimensions.

15. Express deep concern that the socio-economic development of our continent is being hampered by widespread internal conflicts which are due, among other causes, to violations of human rights, including discrimination based on ethnic or national origin, lack of democratic, inclusive and participatory governance.

16. Also express concern in this regard that external interference mainly linked to the exploitation of mineral and arms trade, unfavourable international economic environment and foreign debt, is the main contributing factor to the spread of conflicts and instability in Africa.

17. Further express our full conviction that the development of democratic systems of government in Africa, guaranteeing full access to and representation of all sectors of our societies, respect for and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, equitable distribution of wealth and access to economic advancement, active promotion of peace, preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution and equitable international economic environment, are essential prerequisites to prevent conflicts and instability in Africa.

18. Recall the historical fact that among the most hideous manifestations of racial discrimination the African continent and Diaspora has suffered, namely slave trade, all forms of exploitation, colonialism and apartheid were essentially motivated by economic objectives and competition between colonial powers for strategic territorial gains, appropriation, control over and pillage of natural and cultural resources.

19. Affirm that slave trade is a unique tragedy in the history of humanity, particularly against Africans - a crime against humanity which is unparalleled, not only in its abhorrent barbaric feature but also in terms of its enormous magnitude, its institutionalized nature, its transnational dimension and especially its negation of the essence of the human nature of the victims.

20. Further affirm that the consequences of this tragedy accentuated by those of colonialism and apartheid have resulted in substantial and lasting economic, political and cultural damage to African peoples and are still present in the form of damage caused to the descendants of the victims, the perpetuation of the prejudice against Africans in the Continent and people of African descent in the Diaspora.

21. Stress the negative economic consequences of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, conscious that the economic difficulties of Africa cannot be exclusively explained by foreign factors and historical events. It is, nevertheless a reality that those factors and events have had profound effects on the crippling economic development of Africa and that justice now requires that substantial national and international efforts be made to repair such damage.

22. Reaffirm that the discriminatory treatment against foreigners and migrant workers, inter-alia, in granting visas, working permits, family conditions, housing, access to justice, either established or practiced in certain countries, based on race, color, descent or national or ethnic origin are human rights violations which gravely contradict the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

23. Reaffirm also that the stigmatization of people of different origins by acts or omissions of public authorities, institutions, media, political parties, organisations, national or local, are not only acts of racial discrimination but also an incitement to further recurrence of such acts - thereby resulting in the creation of a vicious circle which reinforces racist attitudes and prejudices and should be declared offences and crimes punishable by law.

24. Express concern that the complicating dimension of this vicious circle is that it contributes and intensifies racially discriminatory social attitudes which can hardly be criminalized by law.

25. Recall that without the necessary political will to recognise and assume responsibility for historical injustices and their contemporary forms and repercussions, programs of action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, as well as the anti-racist slogans and measures taken at the world conference and at the regional and national levels will remain without effect in changing deeply ingrained prejudices and reaching the noble goal of a genuine human family based on equal dignity and equal opportunities.

26. Affirm that the first logical and credible step to be taken at this juncture of our collective struggle is for the World Conference against Racism to declare solemnly that the international community as a whole fully recognizes the historical injustices of slave trade, that colonialism and apartheid are among the most serious and massive institutionalised forms of human rights violations.

27. Further affirm that this recognition would be meaningless without the explicit apology by ex-colonial powers or their successors for those human rights violations, and that this apology should be duly reflected in the final Declaration of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

28. Recall that Article 6 of CERD already contains the obligation to provide effective protection and remedies for everyone against any acts of racial discrimination which violate human rights and fundamental freedoms, a principle reaffirmed by numerous subsequent human rights instruments including the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the right to a remedy and reparation for victims of violations of international Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.

29. Strongly reaffirm that States which pursued racist policies or acts of racial discrimination, such as slavery, colonialism and apartheid, should assume their full responsibilities and provide adequate reparation to those States, communities and individuals who were victims of such racist policies or acts, regardless of when or by whom they were committed.

30. Strongly reaffirm that States which pursued racist policies or acts of racial discrimination such as slavery and colonialism should assume their moral, economic, political and legal responsibilities within their national jurisdiction and before other appropriate international mechanisms or jurisdictions and provide adequate reparation to those communities or individuals, individually or collectively, who are victims of such racist policies or acts, regardless of when or by whom they were committed.

31. Express the deep conviction that everyone's right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating fundamental human rights stipulated by article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 6 of Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as well as article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, undoubtedly applies to victims of racial discrimination.

32. Commend the work of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa established in compliance with the Paris Principles, especially their role in raising awareness in human rights education and training at the national level and in facilitating the promotion and protection of human rights violations, especially racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and all forms of racially motivated violence.

33. Encourage the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue support for those African states that are in the process of establishing national institutions through training and resources and strongly advise African States that have not yet done so to consider establishing effective and independent national institutions.

34. Reaffirm that all individual human rights violations are condemnable, and that collective types of violations such as racial discrimination, deserve similar indignation, which in both cases is not sufficient unless it is complemented by the appropriate remedies.

35. Express conviction that applying a victim-oriented approach to victims of racial discrimination on both national and international levels reaffirms the human values of tolerance and solidarity and thus enhances the foundations of human rights law.

36. Affirm that enhancing the victims' rights to benefit from an international recognition and protection of their right to benefit from remedies and reparation, the international community strengthens its credibility in the cause of human rights and shows faith and human solidarity with victims, survivors and future human generations, and reaffirms the principles of the equality, dignity of all human beings, accountability, justice and the rule of law.

37. Further affirm in particular that the victims' rights to access to justice is of special importance to victims of racial discrimination, in the light of their vulnerable situation, socially, culturally and economically, and that the principle of equality of victims in the legal systems is meaningless unless it is accompanied by affirmative action.

38. Note that other groups which were subjected to other scourges and injustices have received repeated apologies from different countries as well as ample reparations, on a bilateral basis, from both public and private sources and lately through certain international organisations.

39. Affirm in that spirit that all human beings are equal and that all scourges and injustices should, therefore, be addressed with the same emphasis and that such fairness is a fundamental prerequisite to create a positive state of mind and peace of consciousness for all parties involved, which gives future efforts better chances of success.

40. Affirm the commitment by States to comply with their obligations relating to the protection and promotion of human rights of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons.

41. Bearing in mind the situation of vulnerability in which migrants frequently find themselves, owing, inter alia, to the absence from their state of origin and to the difficulties they encounter due to differences in language, customs and culture, as well as the economic and social difficulties and obstacles for the return of migrants who are undocumented or in an irregular situation.

42. Recognise that the number of recent and on-going conflicts around the world reveal that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance of peoples, groups and individuals are one of the root causes of conflict and are very often one of its consequences. In this regard, recall that non-discrimination is a fundamental principle of international humanitarian law.

43. Note with grave concern the negative effects on health and the environment of environmental racism suffered in particular, by countries in Africa, including the illicit dumping of toxic wastes and substances, hazardous working and living conditions and dangerous methods of extracting natural resources.


Message-Id: <> From: "APIC" <> Date: Fri, 2 Feb 2001 13:53:41 -0500 Subject: Africa: Racism Declaration

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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