|CARAM Asia Statement: Durban Review Conference Must Stick to The Issues|
Kuala Lumpur, April 22nd 2009: As the financial crisis continues to have a detrimental effect on the global economy and communities around the world, CARAM Asia urges all of the participating nations at this week's Durban Review Conference to remain committed to the principles of eliminating racist and xenophobic attitudes against all people. 8 years on from the 1st World Conference, we face a world more disparate and divided, and at odds with each other.
Under such financial duress it remains well documented by such prominent organisation as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) that xenophobia and possible violent attacks against mobile populations is set to rise. As such we carefully remind all delegates of their existing pledge to protect migrant communities within their border under the existing Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA).
It remains the most basic human right that no man or woman, irrespective or race, religion or nationality is greater or less than any other and it therefore remains a global responsibility for all governments and nations to remove any xenophobic or racist tendencies that hamper this consensus. It is therefore very disappointing that the United States has decided, along with many leading nations, to boycott this conference and has chosen separation over constructive discourse. Despite continued calls for the Obama administration to reverse his predecessor’s stance from 2001, Obama has clearly failed to enforce any real change in this regard. Such statements as those made by the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad must be countered by the world’s nations who seek to stand against those who use this platform as a means of using race as a political tool. It is unfortunate that the United States has chosen not to lead others in this direction.
To date, neither the United States nor any other western nation has signed nor ratified existing legislation such as the International Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers to protect migrant workers within their own borders and many, including the US and especially the Gulf Coordinating Council (GCC) states have come under attack for their continued mistreatment of migrant workers. Such abuse frequently consists of exploitatory practises which deny migrants access to proper medical services as well as a lack of legal protection for any abuse they face.
Migrant workers contribute a great deal both economically, socially and culturally and CARAM Asia reminds all states that it remains the responsibility of all nations to abide by the terms laid out under both the DDPA and the United Nations Charter.
Part of this responsibility also includes the terms laid out under section 5 points 93 and 94 of the second draft document which relates to the removal of xenophobic practises against people living with the HIV virus. Migrant workers and mobile populations remain one of the Most at Risk Populations (MARP) susceptible to contracting the HIV virus and continue to face further discriminatory practises if found to be positive. This frequently includes deportation, victimisation while at the same time denied the most basic treatments which could assist in extending the person’s life.
To date over seventy countries worldwide enforce exclusionary HIV travel restriction which include the use of mandatory testing for both short term and long term stay. Such practises have been publicly rejected by the World Health Organisation and the Red Cross as they have been shown to rarely limit the spread of the virus amongst the host populations.
Since its inception eight years ago, very little practical change has been made in the betterment of migrant’s lives who continue to face both racist and xenophobic practises by host countries. At the same time, people living with the HIV virus continue to face exclusionary practises already rejected by such groups as the World Health Organisation.
As such CARAM Asia calls on all participating nations to reaffirm their commitment to the Durban process and demonstrate to the world at large the purpose of the conference by immediately;
• That key nations especially the United States and the European Union provide the necessary backing to the United Nations in fostering greater dialogue and engagement amongst nations to help lift the issue of racism and xenophobia to the top of the global policy agenda.
• Ratifying the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial discrimination
• Ratifying the international convention on the protection of migrant workers and their families.
• Work to meet the conditions laid out in the Universal access plan 2010 including the removal of all HIV mandatory testing and travel restriction for both long and short term travel
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