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September 04, 2001

Robinson condemned for partial remarks about NGO document

International NGOs Tuesday condemned remarks made by Secretary General of the World Conference against Racism Mary Robinson on the language used in the NGO document, Editor of The Muslim News Ahmed Versi reports from Durban Tuesdy. "It is very unfortunate that the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights (Mary Robinson) should focus only on one aspect of the Document. She should have had a more open attitude towards the NGOs. We want her to accept this as the voices of different victims. We want her to respect the position of the NGO community and accept the whole document," a Member of the Sterring Committee of the International NGOs Myrna Cunningham told The Muslim News.
Robinson earlier Tuesday afternoon criticised the NGO Report, which was endorsed by 6,000 NGOs on Sunday. She told a press conference: "I have been disturbed and distressed by the vitriolic words" in the NGO document. Robinson added that in normal circumstances she would have endorsed the whole of the NGO document. However, "this time I am not asking them (the UN) to accept the whole NGO Declaration". She added that there were "good things" in the Report, but criticised the section dealing with genocide by Israel, saying it was "hurtful language". Cunningham rejected the argument put forward by Secretry Generl of the UN conference. She said that the High Commissioner should not have just concentrated on one issue regarding Israel and Palestine. Cunningham stressed that the Document included anti-Semitism "as one of the form of racism". She added that the Reoprt also dealt with "voices of different victims from all over the world". It includes "not only the question anti-Semitism but also slavery, reparation, colonialism, foreign occupation". Cunningham reiterated that even if one does not agree with everything in the Report, "we have to respect the voices of others in this Document".

Mrs Robinson had during her press conference mentioned that the text of the UN Document on the Palestine issue will be removed and a new draft will be made. But she cautioned that the text "may not be replaced".

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