Durban Review Conference must not compromise principles

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Since its inception eight years ago, very little practical change has been made in the betterment of migrants’ lives and they continue to face both racist and xenophobic practises by host countries. At the same time, people living with the HIV virus continue to face exclusionary practices already rejected by such groups as the World Health Organisation.  CARAM Asia  calls on all participating nations to reaffirm their commitment to the Durban process.

As the financial crisis continues to have a detrimental effect on the global economy and communities around the world, CARAM Asia urges all of the participating nations at this week’s Durban Review Conference to remain committed to the principles of eliminating racist and xenophobic attitudes against all people. Under such financial duress, it remains well documented by such prominent organisations as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) that xenophobia and possible violent attacks against mobile populations is set to rise. As such, we carefully remind all delegates of their existing pledge to protect migrant communities within their borders under the existing Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA).

It remains the most basic human right that no man or woman, irrespective or race, religion or nationality is greater or less than any other and it therefore remains a global responsibility for all governments and nations to remove any xenophobic or racist tendencies that hamper this consensus. It is therefore very disappointing that the United States has decided, along with many leading nations, to boycott this conference and has chosen separation over constructive discourse. Such statements as those made by the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad must be countered by the world’s nations who seek to stand against those who use this platform as a means of using race as a political tool. It is unfortunate that the United States has chosen not to lead others in this direction.   

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Despite continued calls for the Obama administration to reverse his predecessor’s stance from 2001, Obama has clearly failed to enforce any real change in this regard. To date, neither the United States nor any other western nation has signed nor ratified existing legislation such as the International Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers to protect migrant workers within their own borders and many, including the US and especially the Gulf Coordinating Council (GCC) states have come under attack for their continued mistreatment of migrant workers. Such abuse frequently consists of intolerant practices which deny migrants access to proper medical services as well as a lack of legal protection for any abuse they face.

Migrant workers contribute a great deal both economically, socially and culturally and CARAM Asia reminds all states that it remains the responsibility of all nations to abide by the terms laid out under both the DDPA and the United Nations Charter.   

Part of this responsibility also includes the terms laid out under section 5 points 93 and 94 which relates to the removal of xenophobic practices against people living with the HIV virus. Migrant workers and mobile populations remain one of the Most at Risk Populations (MARP) susceptible to contracting the HIV virus and continue to face further discriminatory practices if found to be positive. This frequently includes deportation, victimisation while at the same time the denial of the most basic treatments which could assist in extending the person’s life.

To date over 70 countries worldwide enforce exclusionary HIV travel restriction which include the use of mandatory testing for both short term and long term stay. Such practices have been publicly rejected by the World Health Organisation and the Red Cross as the implementation of such practices has been shown to rarely limit the spread of the virus amongst the host populations.

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Since its inception eight years ago, very little practical change has been made in the betterment of migrants’ lives and they continue to face both racist and xenophobic practises by host countries. At the same time, people living with the HIV virus continue to face exclusionary practices already rejected by such groups as the World Health Organisation. As such CARAM Asia calls on all participating nations to reaffirm their commitment to the Durban process and demonstrate to the world at large the purpose of the conference by immediately;

    * Ratifying the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial discrimination

    * Ratifying the international Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and their Families.
 
    * Working to meet the conditions laid out in the Universal access plan 2010 including the removal of all HIV mandatory testing and travel restrictions for both long and short term travel
.

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