Claude Moraes: Positive agenda needed to achieve race conference goals
Claude Moraes is a British Labour Party Member of the European Parliament, and is currently the party's spokesman for the Employment and Social Affairs Committee and the first vice president of the European Union's delegation to the UN World Conference Against Racism. Shortly after being elected, Moraes established the Parliament's first all party anti-racist group. Moraes joined the CNN.com chat room from Durban, South Africa.
CNN: Good afternoon Claude Moraes and welcome to CNN.com. U.S. and Israel have now withdrawn from the conference. What's the reaction in Durban over this development?
CLAUDE MORAES: There is sadness, clearly, after this development, because many of us at this conference are from across the world, and this is a major setback. But I'm happy that Mary Robinson, the UN head of the conference -- and I agree very much with her statement -- said that the show must go on. We must achieve a positive outcome. A positive outcome would include action plans to tackle discrimination around the world.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: Will the UK follow suit in solidarity with Israel?
MORAES: I very much hope that the European Union countries will continue attending the conference in the spirit that Mary Robinson had laid out, and I passionately hope that as a member of the European Union delegation, that I will stay until the end of the conference.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: Mr. Moraes, please explain why the UN convention decided not to condemn the daily terrorist attacks by the Palestinians?
MORAES: As a member of the European Union delegation, I have not been involved in any of the discussions about that dispute. I have very much concentrated on central issues of tackling race discrimination, for example, I have been promoting the recent success of the European Union in passing the first transnational law against racism, Article 13. This is the kind of progress that I hope we will continue to discuss at the World Conference.
CNN: Can you highlight some of the immigration issues that are being discussed at the racism conference?
MORAES: The UN Conference on Racism is mainly discussing racism in relation to citizens of countries around the world. In this respect, asylum-seekers and migrants very often lose out in discussions relating to racism. However, the issues of asylum-seekers and migrants are treated as very much an issue for the conference.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: How difficult will it be for individual European nations to combat the rising racism against immigrant refugees by the Right Wing that is happening all across Europe?
MORAES: It is very important that governments in Europe and around the world take seriously the threat of extremism, which often uses the difficult emotive issue of asylum as a scapegoat for other problems which exist in societies.
CHAT PARTICIPANT: What can be done in the future to prevent the conference from degenerating into a "you do it too" slugfest?
MORAES: Many delegates at the conference have tried very hard to move away from blaming each other, to trying to construct a positive agenda from this conference. A positive agenda means concentrating on issues like the creation, and more importantly the implementation, of good laws to tackle race discrimination and intolerance in all its forms. That is an achievable outcome which the European Union recently showed with its adoption of a race equality Directive (law) which covers all European Union countries and those countries in eastern Europe that have applied to join the European Union.
CNN: Do you have any final thoughts for us today?
MORAES: I very much hope that there will still possibly be a positive agenda emerging from this conference, and that people around the world look at the example of South Africa and see that racism can be tackled, and nations like South Africa can emerge positively from a history of racial division.
CNN: Thank you for joining us today, Claude Moraes.
Claude Moraes, M.E.P., joined the CNN.com chat room by telephone and CNN provided a typist. This is an edited transcript of the chat which took place on Monday, September 3, 2001.
|Back to the top|