Press Releases

    30 August 2001


    Theme Is "Discrimination is Everybody’s Business"

    (Reissued as received.)

    GENEVA, 29 August (UN Information Service) -- Business and trade union leaders will meet in Durban on 31 August to discuss the impact of racism and discrimination in the workplace and wider community.

    United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan will open the meeting, in which Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Secretary-General of the World Conference against Racism, will also take part. The meeting is one of a wide range of special events taking place in conjunction with the World Conference.

    The dialogue will highlight private-sector initiatives to promote equality and inclusion in and out of the workplace, and look at obstacles faced in fighting discrimination. Participants will also explore opportunities for new cross-sectoral partnerships post-Durban as part of their commitment to the Secretary-General’s Global Compact.

    The high-level dialogue is the first of three events planned during the World Conference to address the role of the private sector in combating discrimination and fostering diversity. On 1 September, a workshop with representatives of companies, trade unions, civil society groups and governments will identify ways of working together to make real progress on these issues. On 4 September, a joint International Labour Organization-Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights panel on "Implementing Equality and Diversity Policies: Private Sector Action" will allow people involved in the development and implementation of equality and diversity policies or projects in the private sector to interact.

    As the Secretary-General has noted: "The Global Compact aims to embed the global market in shared values. It is also a learning forum so that participating companies can show the way for others through enlightened leadership and creative partnerships. I am encouraged by the commitment of Compact participants who have agreed to throw their considerable weight behind the cause of diversity and non-discrimination."

    The 31 August panel is scheduled from 16:30 to 18:00 in Conference Room 7 of the Durban Exhibition Centre. In addition to Kofi Annan and Mary Robinson, the participants will be:

    • Sven Eckerstein, Deputy CEO, Volvo Car Corporation (Sweden)
    • Bill Jordan, General Secretary, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
    • Mpho Letlape, Executive Director – Human Resources, Eskom (South Africa)
    • Ramalinga Raju, Chairman, Satyam Computer Services (India)
    • Ashraf Tabani, Immediate Past President, International Organisation of Employers
    • Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme
    • Alain Ludovic Tou, Minister of Employment, Labour and Social Security, Burkina Faso, and Chairman, International Labour Organization Governing Body
    • Vic Van Vuuren, Chief Executive, The Sanlam Group (South Africa)

    For more information about the Global Compact, contact:


    Scott Jerbi, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights:

    Telephone at International Convention Centre:
    +27 31 360 1078; or Jose Luis Diaz, +27 31 360 1094.

    * *** *