Back to all Motions

2010 National Black Members' Conference
7 August 2009

This conference welcomes the long awaited review of the United Nations (UN) Durban World Conference Against Racism took place in Geneva from 20th to 24th April 2009.

The conference news was dominated by the absence of key countries such as America, Canada and Australia and the controversial speech by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian Prime Minister who condemned the Israeli bombing of Gaza. The Outcome Document of the Durban Review Conference (Outcome Document) has been less well publicised although it contains 143 paragraphs of commitments to ending racism agreed by 189 states, including those who walked out after watering it down. While the British Government did not boycott the conference as they had threatened to, they did not send a Minister, would not answer questions about its delegation and did not publicise it.

This Conference notes that:

1.UNISON National Black Members’ Conference in January 2009 passed a motion calling for a UNISON delegation to the Durban Review Conference;

2.The UNISON NEC took a decision not to send any delegation in February 2009 without consulting the NBMC;

3.The NBMC submitted a bid to the General Political Fund (GPF) to cover the cost of a delegation but received no funding, and;

4.Some UNISON members and staff were able to attend through the Global Afrikan Congress and the TUC.

This conference believes that this was a missed opportunity to network with other Black people and anti-racists internationally. The boycotts and the fact that it took 9 years to get a review which should have happened after 5 years shows how powerful a process it is. The feeling of Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) from the countries that boycotted was that it was the only way their Government could try to hide how little work they had done since the last World Conference Against Racism. The NGOs remained and so were able to give testimony to the lack of progress and continued barriers.

The conference was attended by thousands of people, with those who could not get into the main hall able to take part in workshops or hear testimonies on the experience of racism of Doreen Lawrence and others. Workshops gave governments the opportunity to show what they were doing to combat racism and NGOs the rare opportunity to question them in public.

The British Ambassador to Geneva hosted a meeting each night for delegates from Britain to discuss the conference and how issues should be brought back to Britain. These meetings were also attended by representatives from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Communities and Local Government (CLG). British delegates were able to influence the British presentation to the UN on its work to tackle racism. They met with FCO and CLG staff in June to discuss their priorities and to suggest how the Outcome Document should be publicised and delivered. They have also agreed to take part in other UN anti-racist processes such as reporting to the Committee on the Elimination of Race Discrimination later this year.

This Conference calls on the NBMC to:

1.Seek clarification from the NEC on why they did not send a delegation or consult with the NBMC;

2.Work with the NEC to identify issues from the Outcome Document relevant to UNISON;

3.Work with the NEC to identify which UNISON Service Groups, Departments or Committees should lead on these issues;

4.Work with Labour Link to ensure that the MPs that we sponsor are aware of the Outcome Document so they can raise it in their work;

5.Work with the TUC and Race Relations Committee and other bodies to ensure the commitments made in the Outcome Document are publicised to members, trade unionists and anti-racists;

6.Work with the NEC, TUC Race Relations Committee and Black community organisations to increase awareness of the process for the next Review Conference;

7.To support the Global Afrikan Congress Speaking Tour on the Durban Review Conference; and

8.To affiliate to the Global Afrikan Congress and encourage Branch and Regional Black Members’ Groups to do the same.