22 February 2001



GENEVA, 21 February (UN Information Service) -- The regional preparatory meeting for Asia of the World Conference against Racism wound up its deliberations in Tehran today by adopting a declaration and a programme of action to be submitted to the second Preparatory Committee, scheduled to take place in May in Geneva.

In her closing statement, Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Secretary-General of the World Conference, said that the recommendations adopted by the various preparatory meetings already showed a high degree of consensus. This was reflected in the agreement on the need for legislative and regulatory measures to prevent racism and protect victims, for the promotion and strengthening of national institutions devoted to the elimination of racism, for training and education and for special attention to women and youth, as well as various vulnerable groups such as migrants and minorities. A number of issues still remained on the agenda, that would require political leadership. She was confident solutions would be found in the forthcoming negotiating and consultative process.

The declaration and plan of action adopted by the Asia regional preparatory meeting in Tehran expressed solidarity with the peoples of Africa in their struggle against racism. In the context of globalization, the meeting also drew attention to the growing plight of migrants, particularly women, and trafficking in persons.

As in the previous regional meetings held in Strasbourg, Santiago de Chile and Dakar, the Tehran meeting also called upon States to address the root causes, such as inter-ethnic strife, poverty and armed conflict which gave rise to or exacerbated racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

Member States, observers from other regions, representatives of 150 non-governmental organizations, civil society, international agencies and institutions attended the Tehran meeting. During the course of the proceedings, the High Commissioner, while appreciating the efficient arrangements of the Tehran meeting and the decision to facilitate World View International's participation, expressed her dismay at the "procedural and technical" difficulties that did not allow the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the Baha'i International Community, both accredited non-governmental organizations to the Economic and Social Council, to attend the regional meeting. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre was granted an entry visa only in the last hours before the meeting and the application by the Baha'i International Community was not considered. The High Commissioner reiterated her full and unequivocal support for the participation of all accredited non-governmental organizations in the preparatory process and in the World Conference itself.

More information on the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance can be found on the Internet at: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/racism/index.htm or Fax: +4122 917 9050, E-mail: tshiawlk.hchr@unog.ch.

* *** *