OPINION

Editorial

The UN world conference against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance which started in Durban, South Africa on Friday with more than 150 government representatives has generated hopes that the public will become more conscious and that measures will be taken to curb this sick phenomenon. A spiritual ailment which has from ancient times plagued all kinds of societies and which has been perpetuated due to economic and political factors, racism, whether actual or underlying, is making a comeback in recent years. Despite the dramatic improvement in global contact and communication, the cataclysmic geopolitical and economic transformations which have caused the revival of old and the emergence of new forms of nationalism but also waves of millions of economic migrants have nourished a fever of racial clashes and xenophobia. The situation has to be tackled immediately at an international level. Western leaders, however, have avoided taking part in the Durban Conference. This was a poor decision because their presence, status and power would help to place the focus on modern forms of racism. In their absence, the debate derailed to oversimplified, one-sided stereotypes concerning the black and white dichotomy which is based on outdated patterns and problems or in political problems – such as the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis – which are indeed serious but cannot be solved within the context of such a conference. In any case, the problems like the racist treatment of white migrants in Europe, the cruel suppression and massacres of minority races by the dominant African ethnic group, or the racist behavior toward millions of Indians of lower strata by people of the same nation and religion who belong to a higher class will neither be solved amid discussions about the black slave trade during the 16th or 18th century nor amid a discussion about colonialism. Let’s hope that sense will finally prevail and that the Durban Conference will not prove a lost opportunity to provide a comprehensive action plan against racism. Humanity has to prove it is able to formulate common positions on the issue of human equality, independent of race.