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Manning Marable to Address U.N. World Conference against Racism

By James Devitt

Manning Marable

Columbia University political scientist and historian Manning Marable will address the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa. The conference, to be held August 31 through September 7, will include U.N. member states, selected non-governmental organizations and U.N. specialized agencies.

Marable will present a paper, "Structural Racism and American Democracy," at the official U.N. conference seminar hosted by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) on September 3.

"One immediate objective is to strengthen networks involved in anti-racist activities, both within individual countries and globally, and to bring human rights activists in closer contact and coordination with each other," said Marable, who briefed the White House interagency task force on the conference during the Clinton Administration. "The most controversial issue to be debated is that of 'reparations.' In Africa, impoverished countries are calling for debt relief and for massive Western investment to compensate for years of underdevelopment due to colonialism."

The U.N. General Assembly voted in 1997 to hold the conference in order to address issues pertaining to racism. While acknowledging some progress on racial issues, the U.N. noted that the emergence of ethnic cleansing, the use of the Internet to spread messages of racial superiority and the growing complexity of racial discrimination have created the need for an international forum on racism.

"This World Conference has the potential to be among the most significant gatherings at the start of this century," the Secretary-General of the Conference and High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson said in a statement. "It can be more: it can shape and embody the spirit of the new century, based on the shared conviction that we are all members of one human family."

The conference will explore the following themes:

Sources, cause, forms and contemporary manifestations of racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance; victims of racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance; measures of prevention, education and protection aimed at the eradication of racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance at the national, regional and international levels; provision for effective remedies, recourses, redress and other measures at the national, regional and international levels, and, strategies to achieve full and effective equality, including international cooperation and enhancement of the United Nations and other international mechanisms in combating racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia.

Marable is the director of Columbia's Institute for Research in African-American Studies, which is currently engaged in a comprehensive research project on the life of Malcolm X. The project includes the compiling of his papers, a multimedia version of The Autobiography of Malcolm X and the Malcolm X–Dr. Betty Shabazz Oral History Project.

Click for a link to the web video "Okihiro and Marable Discuss Dynamic Between Blacks and Asians".

Published: Aug 15, 2001
Last modified: Sep 18, 2002


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