Tags: U.N. | Race | Conference | Fizzles | Out

U.N. Race Conference Fizzles Out

Friday, 07 September 2001 12:00 AM

South African President Thabo Mbeki returned to the conference to lobby for an agreement on the slavery declaration, according to conference participants.

European Union delegates refused to support the wording of the document on the issue of an apology and reparations for slavery and colonialism, and the declaration on Zionism. Both declarations had been sent back to the conference chairman, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the South African foreign minister, to try to create a consensus among the delegates.

On the eve of the closing session, South Africa believed that it had won agreement from other African delegations to settle for no Western apology in return for large-scale development aid, according to the participants and press reports of the conference. But the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus persuaded Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo to force through a draft resolution demanding an apology.

South Africa switched signals and supported the apology motion. But the EU - and particularly Britain, Spain, Portugal and Holland, which the conference termed slaveholder states, while ignoring such present-day African slaveholder nations as Sudan and Mauritania - rejected it.

Conference sources said Friday that a watered-down resolution was being prepared in which the EU agrees to debt relief (not debt cancellation), remedial measures (not reparations) and agrees that slavery is a crime against humanity. The question of an apology remains moot.

But despite Mbeki's persistence, the conference remained deadlocked on the Middle East issue, which had earlier resulted in U.S. and Israeli withdrawal.

The South Africans hosts came up with two drafts that were acceptable to the EU, but the Arab group rejected both out of hand.

Negotiations were still going on despite the fact that the conference was scheduled to be over. Delegates said they might be summoned into session again today.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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South African President Thabo Mbeki returned to the conference to lobby for an agreement on the slavery declaration, according to conference participants. European Union delegates refused to support the wording of the document on the issue of an apology and reparations for...
U.N.,Race,Conference,Fizzles,Out
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2001-00-07
Friday, 07 September 2001 12:00 AM
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