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Charlotte Bunch Reports On the World Conference Against Racism in Durban South Africa Andsets the Record Straight

December 26, 2001

It has been almost four months to the day since the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination,Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance was launched in Durban South Africa. For eleven days, from the end of Augustthrough the beginning of September, the news wires crackled with the controversies of the conference: the disputeover reparations for slavery, the uproar over language equating Zionism with racism, and, of course, the Americandelegation’s threatened non-participation.

But then, just days after the Conference ended and a true discussion might have begun, two planes crashed into theWorld Trade Center, a third drove into the Pentagon, and the news wires that had been broadcasting from Durban wentdead. The controversies ­ as well as the gains and many lessons ­ were largely forgotten.

But as feminist scholar and longtime activist, Charlotte Bunch, insisted at a gathering of the Durban Women’s Groupin early December, the lessons of Durban should not be allowed to disappear. Now more than ever, the conference’sspirit, record, and even controversy have much to teach us.

Charlotte Bunch is a professor of Women’s Studies at Rutgers University and the founding Director of the Center forWomen’s Global Leadership, also at Rutgers. In the year leading up to the Durban conference, she met regularly witha group of dozens of other rights activists to prepare for the conference… We go now to a speech she gave earlier inthe month "setting the record straight" on the World Conference Against Racism.


  • Charlotte Bunch, Executive Director, Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Douglass College, RutgersUniversity.

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