Friday, April 24, 2009
Joint statement of the Canadian Civil Society
JOINT STATEMENT OF
THE AFRICAN CANADIAN LEGAL CLINIC
THE CANADIAN ARAB FEDERATION
THE CANADIAN LABOUR CONGRESS
THE CHARTER OF HUMAN RESPONSIBILITIES
THE COUNCIL OF AGENGIES SERVING SOUTH ASIANS AND
INDEPENDENT JEWISH VOICES
Durban Review Conference
April 20-24 2009, Geneva
This is a joint statement on behalf of African Canadian Legal Clinic, Canadian Arab Federation, Canadian Labour Congress, Charter of Human Responsibilities (Canada), Council of Agencies Serving South Asians, and Independent Jewish Voices (Canada).
We represent a broad and diverse cross section of racialized and ethnic communities from Canadian civil society, committed to combating racism.
We denounce the failure of our government to participate in the Durban Review Conference, a process of critical importance to victims of racism the world over. As civil society organizations, we are here to affirm our commitment to this Review Conference, which is intended to assess the progress UN member nations have made to implement the DDPA.
As Canadian civil society organizations we are deeply dismayed with our government’s decision to withdraw from the conference, long before even a single substantive paragraph had been written. Canada’s refusal to participate in the UN process is a demonstration of its failure to acknowledge the persistence of racism and state responsibility to address it.
The governments which have chosen not to participate have maligned the Durban process itself by describing it as anti-Semitic. While the struggle against anti-Semitism is important, in this instance it is being used as a pretext for ignoring all other issues before this critical conference. We are witnessing a cynical alliance among Western nations to avoid addressing the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the human rights of Palestinian people, and the expropriation of the land and resources of indigenous peoples across the world.
As Canadian civil society, we know that racism is a pernicious reality faced in our workplaces and communities on a daily basis by Aboriginal peoples, African Canadians, Arabs and Muslims and racialized communities as well as racialized immigrants, refugees and migrants.
What binds these communities are disproportionate levels of poverty, lack of access to decent work, education, housing and healthcare -- all colour-coded inequalities that are on the rise in Canada. With economic conditions continuing to deteriorate, these marginalized communities will continue to suffer disproportionately.
Governments have withdrawn from this Conference in order to avoid addressing these fundamental human rights issues. We are here to demand these rights be actively respected and promoted. Their withdrawal clearly indicates lack of commitment and refusal to address the growing problem in their countries and around the world.
The situation of racialized and indigenous populations in Canada has worsened since 2001, with no little or no comprehensive government remedial action. Our Canadian government would have received a failing grade, had it chosen to participate.
We join in solidarity with other racialized and colonized communities all over the world. With or without our government, Canadian civil society will continue to fight to eliminate racism everywhere.