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Back | Programme Area: Identities, Conflict and Cohesion (2000 - 2009) | Event: Racism and Public Policy Conference


Racism and Public Policy Conference

  • Date: 3 - 5 Sep 2001
  • Location: Durban, South Africa
  • Speakers: Alexandra Pero, Amina Mama, Angela King, Antonio Guimaraes, Benjamin Bowling, Bernard Magubane, Boo Teik Khoo, Diego Iturralde, Frene Ginwala, George Fredrickson, Glenn Loury, Guy Mhone, Hajo Funke, Hans-Georg Betz, Jane Bennett, Jeroen Doomernik, Jomo Sundaram, Kum Kum Bhavnani, Kwesi Prah, Lee Swepston, Lily Rahim, Manning Marable, Marcia Langton, Marisol de la Cadena, Mark Suzman, Mary Robinson, Neville Alexander, Njabulo Ndebele, Peter Schatzer, Pierre Sané, Ralph Premdas, Ray Jureidini, Renosi Mokate, Robert Bullard, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Sam Moyo, Sheldon Danziger, Thandika Mkandawire, Tom Lodge, Tracey Mcintosh, Vernellia Randall, Vijay Prashad
  • Project Title: Racism and Public Policy

About this Conference


The United Nations' third "World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance" will be held in South Africa from 31 August to 7 September 2001. The conference has seven key objectives. It will examine progress made in the fight against racism since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; discuss ways of improving the application of existing standards and instruments to combat racism; increase public awareness about the scourge of racism, xenophobia and related intolerance; recommend policies that will enhance the United Nations' work against racism; review the social, economic, political, cultural and historical factors that drive racism and racial discrimination; suggest measures that will help in the formulation of national, regional and international strategies to combat racism and xenophobia; and make concrete proposals about ways of improving the resources of the United Nations in its efforts to eliminate racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance.

As an institution concerned with the study of social development, UNRISD will contribute to the World Conference by organizing a three-day conference on Racism and Public Policy. During the 1990s, the Institute carried out extensive research on ethnic conflict, public policy and development, and in 1994 it organized a major international conference at United Nations Headquarters on Ethnic Violence, Conflict Resolution and Cultural Pluralism as a contribution to preparations for the World Summit for Social Development. UNRISD thus has considerable experience in work related to identities, social cohesion and social development, and has established an impressive network of scholars that it is drawing upon for its conference on Racism and Public Policy.

Racism exists in varying degrees in all regions of the world. Slavery, colonialism, genocide, the holocaust and apartheid represent its most extreme form in world history; but other overt and subtle forms of racism persist in countries around the world. Racism and xenophobia may affect social relations, influence structures of opportunities and life chances of individuals, and provoke violence, civil strife and wars. Besides, the legacy of institutionalized racism and discrimination continues to weigh heavily on the development prospects of affected groups and countries, influence prospects for "racial" accommodation or integration, and affect the efficacy of public policies for promoting equality, justice and social development.

UNRISD is inviting top social scientists, historians and legal scholars from various regions of the world who have studied racism, xenophobia and public policy to present papers and lead discussions at the meeting. The UNRISD conference will thus complement efforts by the World Conference Against Racism, by providing participants with knowledge about the current state of academic research and debate on some of the core issues of racism, xenophobia and intolerance as they affect different groups, countries and regions. It will also examine the opportunities, problems and challenges of public policies devised for overcoming racist and xenophobic practices in different social settings.

UNRISD is focusing its work on four broad themes:

The social construction of race and citizenship;

The social dynamics of racism and inequalities;

Organized responses to cultural diversity; and

The impact of public policies on race relations.