Obama Administration’s decision not to participate in the Durban
Review Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, April 20-29,
2009 is consistent with the role the United States Government
has played through the previous Bush Administration that threatened
not to attend the Conference in August of 2001. However,
the difference between the Obama Administration and the Bush Administration
is that the Bush Administration finally attended and sent an official
delegation. It was only when they could not get their way that
a few days before the conference ended, the United
States withdrew. It is shameful and unfortunate
that the Obama Administration has chosen this path of being out
of touch with most of the Nations of the World who will be participating
in the Durban Review Conference, aimed at addressing the continuing
impact of racism and discrimination worldwide. The following is
an article that I wrote in 2001 leading up to the Durban Conference.
What I wrote then applies to the behavior of the United States today.
news reports have revealed that, “The
United States will not attend next month’s World Conference Against
Racism if two contentious issues are included in the conference
agenda, a senior State Department official
said yesterday.” Further, these news
reports cited that, “Top State Department
officials plan to inform three dozen foreign diplomats today of
the Bush’s administration position on the issues of Zionism as
racism and reparations for slavery and colonialism,
the official said.”
news reports pointed out, “The Washington-based ambassadors,
representing several continents, are
expected to meet in Foggy Bottom with Marc Grossman,
Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs,
and Undersecretary of State Paula J. Dobriansky. They intend to
tell the ambassadors that the United
States needs their help to build support
for striking the two topics.”
turn of events is not surprising for those of us in the African
Liberation Movement who have been organizing to attend and participate
in the historic United Nations World Conference Against Racism
that will be held in Durban, South Africa from August 31st through September
7, 2001. More
than four hundred African people from the United States will be delegates to the conference
representing the December 12th Movement International Secretariat,
the International Association Against Torture,
the North South XXI, and the National
Black United Front.
Atty. Roger Wareham of the December 12th Movement recently revealed
in an article circulated on the Internet earlier this year,
“Since 1997, when the UN agreed to hold
this World Conference, the United States,
Canada, and western Europe (the WEO
Group of countries) have done all they can to prevent it from
the spring of 1998, at the Africa Group meeting during the Commission on Human Rights
in Geneva, Switzerland, a resolution was drafted identifying the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade
as a Crime Against Humanity. The United States, using
all of its influence, succeeded in blocking
the resolution. However, this did not
stop the momentum throughout the African world to push for this
resolution to become an official position of the United Nations
World Conference Against Racism.
the African Regional Preparatory Conference for the World Conference
Against Racism (WCAR) held in Dakar, Senegal (January 22-24, 2001), the African Ministers developed what
is called the “Dakar Declaration.” In their deliberations,
they affirmed, in part, the following:
that the 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
dimensions and especially its negation of the human nature of
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 caused to the descendants of the
victims, the perpetuation of the prejudice against Africans on the continent
and people of African descent in the Diaspora.
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 reparations to those States,
communities and individuals who were victims of such racist policies
regardless of when or by whom they were committed.
news reports are suggesting, “The absence
of the United States [at
the WCAR] would be a severe blow to the convention which is being
billed as the most important international meeting on racism.”
This view of the United States threatening
not to attend the WCAR if Zionism is equated with racism and reparations
for slavery, colonialism, and apartheid are on the agenda fundamentally seeps of arrogance and
white supremacy. We take the position that if the United States refuses to participate
in the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, it is an
admission of guilt!
the past two years, NBUF and the December 12th Movement,
along with African governments, Non
Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and
the African and African Descendants Caucus,
have fought for the inclusion of the Africa Group Resolution in
the WCAR Durban Declaration. This resolution takes the position
that both the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery were Crimes
Against Humanity and that adjudication of these crimes requires
an examination of the economic roots of racism.
position is the basis for the Movements stance regarding reparations
for people of African descent. The European Union,
led by its ally, the United States, is opposed
to the inclusion of this resolution in the Durban Declaration.
do not want to admit that the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery
were Crimes Against Humanity; they do not want to be found culpable;
they do not want to be declared liable for reparations.
United States must recognize that international
law supports the position that the enslavement of Africans was
a crime against humanity. The Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal
defined crimes against humanity as: “Murder,
extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population…whether
or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetuated.”
people and all freedom loving people are clear that the Trans
Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery were Crimes Against Humanity.
There is no debate on this issue! If the United States attends
or does not attend the United Nations World Conference Against
Racism, it does not make a difference. They have been exposed to the world
and they know it!
BlackCommentator.com Columnist, Conrad W. Worrill, PhD, is the National
Chairman of the National Black United Front (NBUF). Click here
to contact Dr. Worrill.
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