The first Preparatory Committee for next year’s World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance has just concluded at the UN in Geneva. Debate was plentiful during this session of limited results.
Analysis: Much remains to be done in the 15 months leading up to the World Conference in South Africa. Although dates have been set, and some regional preparations are underway, the all important agenda is yet to be set, and not all budgeting issues have been resolved.
During the five-day preparatory session, decisions were taken concerning the rules of procedure for the World Conference, and on the participation of NGOs and indigenous groups. Although five general themes for the Conference were adopted, there was heated disagreement regarding the appropriateness of including the right to compensation among these themes. Broadly, the five themes are: sources of racism, victims of racism, measures of prevention, provision of remedies, and strategies for the future.
To ensure the continuation of preparations, an intersessional working group will meet next January to develop a draft agenda, and a draft declaration and programme of action for the World Conference. Conference detractors have suggested that drafting programmes of action eight months prior to the event reflects poor preparation for an event whose convocation dates to 1997.
The International Red Cross Movement has convened an International Conference to take place six months from now.
Analysis: The purpose of the Conference will be to introduce a third emblem (a red diamond) for optional use by Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. The introduction of a neutral emblem would facilitate the admission to the International Movement of National Societies unable to use either the Cross or the Crescent as their emblem.
Most immediately, the National Societies of Kazakhstan and Israel could be admitted to the Movement if they decided to adopt the new emblem for use in conjunction with their existing emblem.
The new emblem may be used by any National Society or by the International Movement, especially in war-torn areas where use of the Cross or the Crescent may provoke hostility rather than assure protection. Adopting a new emblem will help ensure both the universality and centrality of the Red Cross Movement, and allow for its future development.