World Council of Churches Office of Communication
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E-mail: media

27 August 2001

"Racism no more" is motto of ecumenical delegation at World Conference against Racism

When the United Nations (UN) World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance opens in Durban, South Africa, a large ecumenical delegation sponsored by the World Council of Churches (WCC) will be among the many thousands of non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives attending this long-awaited event.

NGO Forum activities began on 26 August with a youth forum and continue through 1 September. The governmental conference runs from 31 August to 7 September. As NGO access to the latter is restricted, a smaller ecumenical delegation will remain in Durban after 1 September to follow the conference and lobby government representatives on the conference "Declaration and Plan of Action".

According to Marilia Schüller, WCC programme executive for combatting racism, the main issues being addressed by the ecumenical delegation relate to ongoing WCC work on the situations of Indigenous Peoples and Dalits, and the triple discrimination of women due to gender, race and class.

White racism as it relates to Africans and African descendants is also an issue to which the delegation is paying careful attention. Schüller notes that in preparing for the conference, a number of NGOs have been seeking recognition by WCAR that slavery, the slave trade and enslavement were crimes against humanity. According to Schüller, "Governments have been reluctant to allow these issues to be tabled for discussion because of concern about reparations and compensation". "As the WCC, we recognize the call for justice and for the redress of inequality by Africans and people of African descent in matters related to slavery," Schüller states. "The situations of racism that affect people today are connected to the issues of the past. At the same time, we don't want the WCAR to lose its focus on issues related to, for instance, the legal aspects of preventing discrimination and racism, or the question of education, history books and school curricula, which should be inclusive of the perspectives of all peoples who have contributed to the life and development of a country."

Another issue the WCC will follow is discrimination of Palestinians based on descent and national origin. Schüller notes that the WCC, through the team on International Relations, has long followed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but that this is the first time it is addressing the cause of the Palestinian people from a racial discrimination point of view.

In preparation for the WCAR, the WCC has held regional meetings in Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, North America, Asia and Pacific, and two meetings in Africa. An international meeting on gender and racism was also held in Africa. Ecumenical delegations have participated in the majority of the experts' meetings and all of the preparatory meetings for the WCAR.

Schüller hopes the conference "will renew the commitment of governments to implement the best possible programme of action endorsed in Durban", and that this commitment "is not bureaucratic but ethical, a position taken in relation to the quality of people's lives".

The WCC at the WCAR website
WCC written submission for the conference

A team of journalists will accompany the ecumenical delegation and follow issues and events at the conference. WCC Updates will be sent to our media list. In addition, there will be a series of Features in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Zulu. If you would like to receive these Features, please send an e-mail message or fax to WCC Contact at +41.22.798.13.46, also indicating which language(s) you wish to receive.

Members of the delegation:
(those with an * are part of the delegation to the governmental conference)

Sra Ofelia Alvarez de McDavis, CLAI Nicaragua
Rev. Dr. Masilamani Azariah, Church of South India
*Mr. Marwan Bishara, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA), Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem
Ms Omega Bula, United Church of Canada
*Ms Laura Mariko Cheifetz, Presbyterian United Nations Office, USA
*Bishop Mvumelwano Dandala, Methodist Church of Southern Africa
*Rev. Antonio Olimpio de Sant'Ana, CENACORA (National Ecumenical Commission to Combat Racism), Brazil
Dr Comlan Prosper Deh, All Africa Conference of Churches, Togo/Kenya
Mr Ellan Edwards, Baptist Church, Jamaica
Rev. Priscilla Everson, South African Council of Churches
Mr. Walter Hahn, Bread for the World, Germany
Ms Adele Halliday, United Church of Canada
*Ms Evelyn Headley-Moore, Episcopal Church, USA
Mrs Nxisa Kaoga, Reformed Church in Botswana
Pasteur Jean-Blaise Kenmogne, CIPCRE (Cercle international pour la promotion de la création), Cameroun
Mrs Aparna Lanjewar, Dalit Solidarity Peoples, India
Sra Betty Ruth Lozano Lerma, Baptist tradition, Colombia
Prof. Samuel Tinyiko Maluleke, University of South Africa
Rev. Dr James Massey, Dalit Solidarity Peoples, India
Dr Patrick Matolengwe, South African Council of Churches
*Mr Yesudoss Moses, National Council of Churches in India
Mrs Lucy Mulenkei, Indigenous Information Network, Kenya
*Rev. Marco Murillo Ilbay, FEINE (Consejo de Pueblos y Organizaciones Indígenas Evangélicas del Ecuador), Ecuador
Lt. Colonel Vijayalakshmi Narayana Jaya, The Salvation Army, India
Dr Khalil Nijimm, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jerusalem
Mr Chabo "Freddy" Pilusa, South African Council of Churches, South Africa
*Mr Cristian Popescu, Pravolavny Duchovni, Romania
*Rev. Dr Sirirat Pusurinkham, Church of Christ in Thailand
Ms Danielle Rahaingonjatovo, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Madagascar
Mrs Marie Ropeti-Iupeli, Pacific Conference of Churches, Samoa, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Padre Daniel Samuel, Anglican Church, Haiti/Dominican Republic
Ms Suhaila Tarazi, Ahli Arab Hospital, Palestine
Ms Sheara Elsie Monica Vincent Manoharan, India
Mrs Esther N. Wesley, Indigenous Healing Fund, Canada
Mr David Widihandojo, Indonesian Council of Churches, Indonesia
Mr Josef Purnama Widyatmadja, Christian Conference of Asia

For more information contact:
the Media Relations Office
tel.: (+41 22) 791 6153 (office);
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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 342, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.