International Human Rights Law Group - Presentation

Equity implies impartiality and fairness, and for the region to have "growth
with equity" there must be a recognition of the inequalities that presently
exist and a concerted effort by our Heads of States to eliminate them. A
large number of the cases of unequal practices within our region have been
defined along racial and ethnic lines and it is therefore important in a
discussion on the economic growth of the region to include the issue of
race. The multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic component of the
region impacts significantly on how that growth will manifest in the
different communities and countries of the region. While the region has seen
real economic benefits in the Americas since the last Summit, resulting in
more open trade, transparency in economic regulations and a more competitive
private sector, these have not always translated into benefits for all
sectors of society. Today our Heads of States face this challenge of how to
ensure that growth for the region is truly growth for everyone within the
At the recent Regional Conference of the Americas Against Racism in Chile,
our Governments agreed to specific principles in the Declaration and Plan of
Action that would provide the framework for development and "growth with
equity" in the region. One of the central issues recognized at this
conference, which was one (1) part of an on-going preparatory process for
the World Conference Against Racism to be held in South Africa in August
this year, was the intersection of race and poverty. The debate centered on
a few key questions: How are race and poverty linked? To what extent is
racism a cause of poverty? Are the conditions of poverty made worse and
further perpetuated by racism? Does poverty lead to racism? The Final
Declaration of the Member States of the Americas recognizes that the
manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance
are aggravated by socioeconomic status (preamble); that poverty is
frequently linked with racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and
intolerance and that these practices aggravate the conditions of poverty,
marginality and social exclusion (par. 5); and that in many countries the
sectors with the highest indices of poverty and with the lowest social
indicators in the areas of education, employment, health, housing, infant
mortality and life expectancy coincide with indigenous peoples, people of
African descent and migrants (par. 15).
At the Second Summit of the Americas in Chile our Heads of States agreed
that while globalization offers new opportunities for progress it can also
heighten the differences among countries and within our societies
(Declaration). As such a commitment was made to give special attention to
the most vulnerable countries and social groups in the hemisphere
particularly as we look towards growth and economic prosperity for our
region. Today the issues being explored by our Governments such as trade,
investment, environment, labour and disaster-preparedness raise similar
concerns about the differences that exist between communities and countries
throughout our region. To that end the International Human Rights Law
Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of human rights
throughout the world, considers it important to examine the principles
agreed upon in Chile and to make every effort to ensure that these
commitments agreed upon are maintained at the next Summit Meeting in Quebec.
Some of the agreed upon principles include:
* States express the determination to prevent and mitigate the negative
effects of globalization as these may contribute to economic inequality
within and between States, and may cause the social and economic exclusion
of peoples, communities and groups, especially those who continue to endure
the legacy of slavery and colonialism (par.10)
* States express the determination to maximize the benefits of globalization
through strengthening cooperation to create increased opportunities for
trade, economic growth and sustainable development, global communications
through the use of new technologies and increased inter-cultural exchange
through the preservation and promotion of cultural diversity, which may
contribute to the eradication of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia
and related intolerance. (par. 10)
* States express the deep concern that indigenous peoples, people of African
descent, migrants and other victims frequently suffer a disproportionate
burden with regard to industrial pollution, degradation of the environment
and the transfer of toxic waste to disposal sites, which adversely affect
their quality of life and health. (par. 14)

* States underscore the need to promote strategies, policies and programmes,
which may include measures of affirmative action, for increasing the
protection of the economic, social and cultural rights of indigenous
peoples, people of African descent, migrants and other victims, and for
affording greater opportunities to such groups to share in the prosperity
and wealth of the societies of the Americas, as well as for guaranteeing
that the benefits of development, science and technology contribute
effectively to the improvement of the quality of life of these populations;
(par. 17)
* States recognize that education and lifelong learning are basic for the
respect of the racial, ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity
of our societies which is essential to prevent the spread of racism, racial
discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and is of key importance
for protecting and promoting democratic values; (par.60)
* Countries are urged to have institutions responsible for providing
statistical information on the population take explicit account of the
existence of indigenous peoples, people of African descent and other ethnic
groups, capturing the component parts of their diversity, according to their
needs and characteristics, designing strategies to evaluate the rights
policies of ethnic groups and exchanging experiences and practices with
other States. To that end, we recommend the development of participatory
strategies for these communities in the processes of collecting and using
information; (par. 85)
* States are urged to adopt measures to provide a proper environment for
disadvantaged groups, including action to reduce and eliminate the
industrial pollution that affects them where they live and, where
appropriate, to relocate, on a voluntary basis and after consultation with
those affected racially and ethnically disadvantaged groups to other areas
when there is no other practical alternative to ensuring their health and
well-being; (par. 88)
* Request States and the international community to recognize that some
victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
are further marginalized by their age, gender, sexual orientation,
disability, or social or economic status; (par. 140)
* Invite States to take appropriate constitutional, legislative and
administrative measures, to foster equality among individuals, indigenous
peoples, among people of African descent, migrants and other ethnic, racial,
cultural, religious and linguistic groups or minorities whose members are
frequently victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related
intolerance, and review existing measures with a view to amending or
repealing national legislation and administrative provisions that may give
rise to discrimination
To follow-up on the success of the Regional Conference Against Racism in
Chile the Law Group urges that the Declaration and Plan of Action from the
Third Summit of the Americas include these principles and commit to
undertake to carry out its initiatives.

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