UN World Conference Against Racism Ends with Contentious Political Declaration On Slavery and the Middle East

September 10, 2001


After nine days of often bitter debate, the historic U.N. World Conference Against Racism ended on Saturday.Delegates from more than 160 countries, many with competing agendas, managed to unanimously support a statement andaction plan for combating racism and related discrimination.

But the conference declaration on slavery ­ a statement that condemned modern slavery as a "crime against humanity,"expressed "profound regret" for past slavery and suggested ways to assist countries damaged by its legacy ­ wasviewed by many African nations as painfully inadequate. Bitter divisions over how–or whether–to call attentionto the treatment of Palestinians under Israeli military occupation nearly derailed the conference in its finalmoments.

And the thousands of grassroots activists who attended the conference left wondering if the political declaration andplan of action agreed to by the delegates will have a meaningful impact on grassroots struggles against racism anddiscrimination.


  • Chris McGreal, reporter with the British newspaper the Guardian.