7 July 2003

The Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Doudou Diène, will visit Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago at the invitation of the Governments of the two countries from 14 to 26 July 2003.

Through his visit, the Special Rapporteur will seek to understand the origins of ethnic tensions that have recently affected the political and social fabric of both countries. He will also learn of Government policies and measures aimed at guaranteeing the rights to equality and non-discrimination of citizens from culturally diverse backgrounds. The Special Rapporteur’s visit should further contribute to strengthening current efforts by the United Nations aimed at supporting the building of social cohesion in Guyana in particular. Mr Diene is promoting a double track strategy to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia related intolerance: a legal and political strategy aimed at implementing all international pertinent instruments and an intellectual strategy to understand the deep cultural and ethical root causes of discrimination.

The Special Rapporteur is scheduled to meet with officials, parliamentarians and political leaders in Georgetown and Port of Spain, as well as with representatives of the international community. He will also hold consultations with representatives of the judiciary, the media, representatives of non-governmental organizations and religious leaders in both countries. Furthermore, in Guyana, he will meet with the Guyana Electoral Commission and the Guyana Ethnic Relations Commission,

The Special Rapporteur will submit his findings to the sixtieth session of the Commission on Human Rights, in March 2004. After Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, the Special Rapporteur is planning to visit Canada, Colombia and Côte d’Ivoire.

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur is to examine all incidents which are the manifestation of contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. He also looks into measures taken by Governments to overcome such manifestations and provides pertinent advices on how to achieve social harmony.

Mr. Diène, a former UNESCO Director of the Department of Intercultural Dialogue and Pluralism for a Culture of Peace is a strong promoter of the dialogue among cultures. He is the second personality to be appointed by the Commission on Human Rights to the position of Special Rapporteur on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, since the mandate was established in 1993. He was appointed on 25 April 2002 by the Commission resolution’s 2002/68.

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