1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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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

Background document: Introduction


The third World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance was held in Durban, South Africa, from 31 August to 7 September 2001.As an institution concerned with the study of social development, UNRISD contributed to this event by organizing a conference on Racism and Public Policy from 3 to 5 September. The UNRISD conference complemented the efforts of the World Conference, by providing participants and the wider public with research-based information on some of the core issues of racism, xenophobia and intolerance as they affect different groups, countries and regions around the world. It examined the opportunities, problems and challenges of public policies devised for combating racist and xenophobic practices in different settings. The Institute established a network of about 30 high-level social scientists, historians and legal scholars from various regions of the world to prepare papers and lead discussions at this event.

Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance are worldwide problems. They often affect social relations, influence structures of opportunities and life chances of individuals, and provoke violence and wars. Slavery, colonialism, genocide, the Holocaust and apartheid represent the most extreme forms of racism in world history; but other overt and subtle forms of racism persist in countries around the world. Besides, the legacy of institutionalized racism continues to weigh heavily on the development prospects of affected groups and countries, influence prospects for social integration or accommodation, and affect the efficacy of public policies for promoting equality, justice and social development.

The UNRISD Conference focused on four broad themes. First, it examined how the construction of race and racism in various regions affect social solidarity and citizenship. Second, it probed the socio-economic and political forces that drive racism and inequalities. Third, it examined the responses of organized groups, social movements and political parties to cultural or racial diversity. And fourth, it discussed the impact of public policies on race relations.