ROC group makes positive impact at world anti-racism forum
Stabroek News
September 4, 2001

Despite the disarray at the end of the NGO Forum at the World Conference against Racism (WCAR) in Durban, South Africa, Rights of Children (ROC) made a positive impact on the event, the anti-racism activists said yesterday.

In the days preceding the final declaration, ROC organised a booth in the exhibition area where hundreds of visitors were able to learn about the group's work, while purchasing its materials and sharing experiences with its six?person delegation, a press release from the group stated. Several radio and television stations also interviewed ROC members at the stall.

The final day of the NGO Conference culminated in a 'Global March Against Racism' in which hundreds of South Africans wearing the ROC -I Am A Race-Free Zone' headbands marched through the streets of Durban.

The release said that ROC also conducted a workshop on its campaign methods in the international NGO tent, which was enjoyed by participants. During the workshop ROC also distributed literature, bookmarks, headbands and explained its 'Race-Free Zone' campaign. In addition, the group's members attended fringe meetings and workshops on a variety of issues related to the theme of racism, human rights education and minorities.

According to the release, poor organization together with intense -politicking- around the Palestinian-Israeli issue ultimately disrupted the NGO Forum. A hotly-contested decision to allow only caucuses to vote eventually led to almost half of the 39 caucuses handing in their voting cards and refusing to associate with the final declaration.

Unfortunately, the NGO Forum finally ended in great confusion with the Palestinian issue overwhelming all other concerns, the release said further. Following allegations of an element of hate speech, anti-Semitism and intolerance, a large number of NGOs walked out robbing the final document of any legitimacy, the release stated.

The latest blow to the conference was the withdrawal of the Canadian delegation yesterday evening, a development of great significance, since Canada played a leading role in the preparations of the WCAR.

ROC members are said to be focusing now on the official conference in which one ROC member is participating as a member of the official Guyana delegation.