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Monday, 3 September, 2001, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
Durban hosts UN race conference
The bitter arguments plaguing this week's UN World Conference against Racism began long before the delegates arrived in the South African city of Durban. The event was designed to address the problems of prejudice and resentment but seems rather to have exacerbated them...

Europe 'to apologise for slavery'

A woman holds a poster against slavery at the UN Racism Conference
A woman holds a poster against slavery at the UN Racism Conference

European delegates at the United Nations anti-racism conference in Durban have agreed to apologise for the slave trade. In another sign of progress at the conference, Muslim states say they are prepared, reluctantly, to adopt a compromise text on racism in the Middle East.

 The BBC's David Loyn reports

Fresh move to end racism row

Anti-Israel protesters
Anti-Israel protesters

Arab states at a global racism conference in South Africa have rejected a compromise text on the Middle East aimed at preventing a walk-out by the European Union. The proposed draft called for recognition of the Palestinian people's plight, but had removed language that branded Israel a racist state.

 The BBC's David Loyn reports

USA and Israel walk out

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said the convention was a source of hatred and unfounded accusation.
The United States and Israeli delegations withdraw from the conference because of what they see as the gathering's "anti-Israel bias". The American Secretary of State, Colin Powell who had stayed away from the conference said the draft declaration contained "hateful language".

The BBC's David Loyn reports

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres

Demands for slave trade apology

The Reverend Jesse Jackson at a rally in Durban
The Revd Jesse Jackson at a rally
Former colonial powers such as Britain and Spain face growing demands to apologise for the slave trade. Some African and black American representatives are also demanding reparations. For their part, European nations were split on issuing an apology for their role in slavery.

The BBC's David Loyn reports

The Revd Jesse Jackson calls for the UK to apologise for slavery

Background to the row over the slave trade

Conference opens with call for unity

Thousands take part in anti-racism protests in Durban
Israel was one of the main targets of protests at the start of the conference
After the pre-conference wrangling, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan sought to bring delegates together, saying they should look beyond their individual disputes and develop an international plan to combat prejudice. Outside on the streets of Durban, 10,000 people were demonstrating for a better world.

The BBC's Rageh Omaar reports

Kofi Annan's opening speech in full

The BBC's Rageh Omaar asks Kofi Annan what the conference can really achieve

Attacks on Zionism prompt US boycott

Mr Powell is boycotting the conference
The US did not attend two previous conferences in 1978 and 1983
The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell pulled out of the conference, protesting at language deemed to be critical of Israel. Despite assurances that moves to equate zionism with racism will not be on the official agenda, the US remains unsatisfied and is represented at the conference only at junior level.

The BBC's Emma Jones reports

The BBC's Roger Hearing asked the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson if it was her impression that after such a long gestation period and with so many contentious problems, the run up to the conference seemed to have been a bit of a mess.

Click here to listen.

BBC News Online looks at some of the issues on the conference agenda.


Indigenous People

Post-apartheid South Africa

India's caste system

Slave trade
Some black Americans want to fight for reparations
Many feel the US has problems with apologising for slavery and colonialism

Everyone is happy to condemn slavery but African governments and human rights campaigners want to go further. Along with black Americans they want to see reparations for past exploitation.

The BBC's Rob Watson reports

Black Brazilians are fighting for equal rights
The shadow of slavery hangs across Brazil
Brazil is often seen as a country which manages racial harmony. But there is a growing movement among Brazilians of black descent which argues that they are barred from many priviliges enjoyed by those of European descent. At the centre of the movement are communities originally founded by former slaves.

The BBC's Tom Gibb reports

Indigenous people

Canada has a poor record
In some places seven out of 10 prisoners are natives
Canada, which has the reputation of being a liberal country, has a poor record in its treatment of indigenous people who complain of discrimination and racism. Native people there make up a disproportionately large part of the prison population. In some parts of the country seven out of 10 prisoners are native, with special jails built to house them near their reserves.

The BBC's Mike Fox reports

Post apartheid South Africa

South Africa is still struggling with racial issues
Many feel there is still separation and inequality
The end of apartheid saw an end to white rule in South Africa and its system of racist laws. But in many parts of the country, society is still struggling to adapt to the political changes. Many feel that separation, inequality and prejudice still exist and need attention.

The BBC's Barnaby Phillips reports

India's caste system

The caste system may be discussed
Much of India sticks religiously to the caste system
A young Hindu boy and his girlfriend were hanged by relatives, Their offence, as members of different castes, was to fall in love. Such tragic cases are rare, but the caste system is still rigidly observed in some parts of India. There are calls for the issue to be discussed at the conference.

The BBC's Jill McGivering reports

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