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Race Relations Commissioners to meet in New Zealan

Media Release
15 January 2004

Race Relations Commissioners to meet in New Zealand

Race Relations Commissioners from around the world are coming to Auckland in February to discuss international race relations issues and share solutions to common challenges.

The roundtable meeting will take place between 2-5 February and is being organised by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva and the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

New Zealand Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres, says this is the first time such a meeting has taken place. "It will provide an excellent opportunity to compare experiences, consider strategies that have been successful in other countries and develop a network for the future".

Participant commissioners and officials will represent seventeen countries at the meeting: Australia, Colombia, Denmark, Equador, Fiji, France, Hungary, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Northen Ireland, Romania, South Africa, Sweden and Uganda. Representatives of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva and UNESCO will also attend.

The themes of the roundtable will be Race Relations in the 21st Century, Achieving Change, and Advancing the International Agenda. Topics will include the impact of September 11, migration, religious tolerance, working with government, the media and the business sector, programmes to achieve equality, and developing national plans of action against racism called for at the 2001 Durban World Conference to Combat Racism.

The New Zealand Human Rights Commission is currently developing the New Zealand Action Plan for Human Rights (NZAPHR), which when completed will incorporate a national race relations strategy. It is anticipated that this plan will be presented to the Government for implementation at the end of the year.

"New Zealand faces a number of challenges in the area of race relations and the issues of the host country will form a backdrop to the conference.

"The February meeting will provide an opportunity to share the experiences of a number of countries. This will contribute to the roles of both the Race Relations Commissioner and the wider Commission in leading the development of positive relations between the many groups that make up New Zealand society," Mr de Bres says.

Roundtable participants will be welcomed by Ngati Whatua at Orakei Marae on 2 February, and have been invited to stay on after the meeting to attend Waitangi Day commemorations in Manukau and Waitakere Cities.

The commissioners will have the opportunity to meet with community representatives at a reception hosted by the Governor-General on 3 February, and then with media and business representatives the following day.

The meeting is being funded by the OHCHR with assistance from the Canadian Government and hosted by the New Zealand Commission.


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