Disappointment as U.S. Bolts Race Conference

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Human Rights Watch

Disappointment as U.S. Bolts Race Conference

(Durban, South Africa, September 3, 2001) -- Human Rights Watch today
decried the decision of the United States delegation to withdraw from
the United Nations World Conference against Racism.

"This Conference presents a unique opportunity for the nations of the
world to define, condemn, and remedy racism and racial discrimination,"
said Reed Brody, Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch. "The U.S.
should be part of that process, and its departure is a deep
disappointment to the victims of racism who have placed their hopes in
this meeting."

Secretary of State Colin Powell announced today that the U.S.
                                   delegation was going home, saying
that the conference was bound to
     contain hateful language against Israel, and that negotiations
would be futile.

Human Rights Watch said that the U.S. should have stayed at the
conference and worked to ensure that objectionable language on Israel
that was proposed in the draft be removed. The group also emphasized
that the question of Israel's treatment of Palestinians is only one of
many before the conference.

"The U.S. is squandering a unique opportunity to stand against
intolerance, take pride in its own successes, and face up to the
challenges in the long fight for equality at home and abroad," said
Brody. "This meeting is about the millions of refugees who are fleeing
racism but who find intolerance, about the so-called untouchables of
South Asia, about how HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects people of
color, about the unique ways racism and sexism interact, and about
racism in the application of the death penalty. These are issues that
the United States wanted to avoid, but clearly it cannot."

For more information on the World Conference Against Racism, Racial
                                         Discrimination, Xenophobia and
Related Intolerance, please see:

Anti-Racism Summit Needs Concrete Results (HRW Press Release, August 27,
2001) at http://www.hrw.org/press/2001/08/durban0827.htm

World Conference Against Racism Backgrounder (HRW Background Briefing,
July 28, 2001) at http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/race/background0727.htm

Racism & Human Rights (HRW Campaign Page) at

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