From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
WCC - Statement by the WCC delegation at the UN WCAR
"Sheila Mesa" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Fri, 07 Sep 2001 15:22:50 +0200
World Council of Churches
For Immediate Use
7 September 2001
Statement by the World Council of Churches delegation at the UN
World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination,
Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Durban, South Africa
cf. WCC Press Update, Up-01-30, of 5 September 2001
"The sin of racism has been a central concern for the ecumenical
movement since the beginning of the last century, and at the
heart of the life of the World Council of Churches (WCC) since
1948. Out of this commitment, the WCC offered strong support to
the UN Conference from its early planning stages onwards and
itself contributed to the process by convening a number of
regional ecumenical consultations. In August 2000, the WCC
submitted a detailed submission to the High Commissioner for
Human Rights, which was subsequently revised after the regional
meetings. The final submission was delivered to the Durban
The NGO Forum was perhaps the largest civil society gathering
devoted to racism that has ever assembled and certainly the most
representative of those victimized by racism and racial
discrimination. It provided the victims of racism with a place to
speak of their experience and their pain and to make proposals
for change. The WCC delegation celebrates that such a forum was
held, because it falls within the WCC's long-cherished tradition
of giving space, and supporting victims to speak publicly.
The WCC delegation considered the process adopted by the NGO
Forum to be vitally important, worthy of affirmation and respect,
and recognized that the NGO Forum document contains the
aspirations and recommendations of many communities of
Many ideas and recommendations from the NGO Forum were
incorporated into the document. The debate on that text was long
and, at times, complex because of the huge numbers of people
involved. The methodology used was to ask specific caucuses
within the Forum to react, provide amendments and then vote.
Members of the WCC delegation were part of the Ecumenical and
other caucuses and did not vote as the WCC itself.
The focus of the NGO Forum and the World Conference was
profoundly affected by current world affairs. The Durban meetings
convened at a time when the situation in the Middle East was in
the forefront of people's minds, and the issues this highlighted
quickly gained prominence in the NGO Forum. The WCC delegation
was greatly helped by the sensitive explanations and support of
its Palestinian members.
During the NGO Forum, in keeping with WCC policy, the WCC
delegation supported the right of self-determination for
Palestinians, the right of return and the establishment of a
Palestinian state. It also affirmed the right of the State of
Israel to exist, and condemned anti-Semitism. There are some
statements in the NGO Forum document which are outside the WCC's
policy framework, and which the WCC cannot support, such as:
equating Zionism with racism, describing Israel as an apartheid
state, and the call for a general boycott of Israeli goods.
This does not detract from the WCC's support for the document as
The WCC delegation believes that to focus only on some sections
of the NGO Forum document is disrespectful to all other sections,
which cover a vast number of issues significant to the victims of
racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia. Those wide concerns
are represented within the membership of the WCC delegation and
cannot be ignored.
Durban, 7 September 2001"
The WCC submission to the WCAR is available on both the WCAR and
WCC websites (www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/jpc/wcar-index-e.html)
Photos of the Conference are available on the WCC website:
For further information, please contact Ms Marilia Schuller, WCC
staff member for Racism issues. Telephone in Durban: ++27 82 427
6225; in Geneva next week: ++41 22 791 6027
The World Council of Churches (WCC) is a fellowship of churches,
now 342, in more than 100 countries in all continents from
virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is
not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The
highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately
every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in
Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general
secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.
World Council of Churches
Media Relations Office
Tel: (41 22) 791 6153 / 791 6421
Fax: (41 22) 798 1346
PO Box 2100
1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
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