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Oral statement of the Ecumenical Caucus to the plenary session

World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Durban, South Africa, 26 August - 7 September 2001

05 September 2001

World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Durban, South Africa, 26 August - 7 September 2001

Madame chairperson, distinguished delegates, people of faith and goodwill, sisters and brothers. Racism is a sin. It is contrary to God's will and an affront to human dignity and human rights.

We believe that the churches must acknowledge their complicity with, and participation in, the perpetuation of racism, slavery and colonialism. This acknowledgement is critical because it can lead to the necessary acts of apology, confession and repentance. These elements form part of redress and reparations that are due to the victims of racism past and present.

On the issues of slavery, colonialism, apartheid and reparations, we believe that it is essential for our churches and governments to acknowledge that they have benefited from the exploitation of Africans and African descendants, Asians and Asian descendants and Indigenous Peoples through slavery and colonialism. We are clear that the trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific and trans-Saharan slave trades, and all forms of slavery, constitute crimes against humanity.

On the issue of Palestine, we are calling for the end of Israeli occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the achievement of the right of self-determination by the Palestinian people, including the right of return, and for the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian State. We encourage dialogue between Jews, Muslims and Christians to promote peace, tolerance and harmonious relationships.

On the issue of Dalits and caste-based discrimination, we call for the recognition of Dalits among the victims of racial discrimination and for caste-based discrimination to be included in the list of sources of racism. Further mechanisms must be evolved by the United Nations, governments and civil society to prohibit and redress discrimination on the basis of work and descent.

Finally, with regard to Indigenous Peoples, we are calling for joint efforts among all entities to stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples in their struggles for self-determination and in their efforts to build peaceful and sustainable communities; and to safeguard their Indigenous knowledge and resources, free from discrimination and based on respect, freedom and equality.