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UN report a 'missed opportunity'

Human Rights Commission

7 April 2006

UN report a 'missed opportunity', says Race Relations Commissioner

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres has restated his response to the report of UN Special Rapporteur Professor Stavenhagen, following a press statement released this evening by the Co-Leader of the Maori Party.

Mr de Bres said he noted the comments made by Tariana Turia, but said her statement appeared to be based on a report on Radio New Zealand this morning which did not adequately reflect his views.

He said he had in fact raised the issue with the News Editor of Radio New Zealand by email this morning.

The text of the email was as follows:

"Your introduction to the news item stated that I had "dismissed" the report. I think it would be more accurate to say that I was disappointed with the report's recommendations and that it was a missed opportunity to put forward practical pathways to reengage the parties in addressing the issues.

"I am not convinced that a simple restatement or endorsement of some of the representations he received and the sweeping recommendations about legislative and constitutional change he made are necessarily going to persuade anyone but those already convinced to do something about them.

"As Race Relations Commissioner I am concerned with finding solutions to the race relations issues that divide people, and that requires finding common ground or fostering a common commitment. It also requires a recognition of different points of view and obtaining a commitment to enter a process of dialogue with an open mind.

"In my own recent experience, the Muslim cartoon issue would not have been resolved the way it was had I not recognised the willingness of both the media and the Muslim community to enter into a dialogue and if they had not had some confidence in my willingness to see both sides of the story.

"There is a place for both strong advocacy and for mediation and reconcilation - I was disappointed that the Special Rapporteur's recommendations did little to advance the latter."

ENDS

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