Claire DooleUN links globalisation to racism
Monday, 1 May, 2000
Geneva - Globalisation and racism are linked, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson.
Mrs Robinson has called for the conference against racism and xenophobia, to be held next year in South Africa, to consider the impact of globalisation.
The impact of globalisation on racism and xenophobia is an appropriate subject for the World Conference on Racism to consider.
Speaking at the conference's preparatory meeting in Geneva, Mrs Robinson argued that globalisation was leading to a rise in racism.
Poor countries, she said, were not benefiting from the consequences of globalisation such as open markets and the information revolution.
As long as that continued, the gap between rich and poor would widen and discontent would rise.
A 'sense of inequality'
The riots in Seattle against the World Trade Organization, she said, reflected this sense of inequality.
But she said some countries, rather than trying to bridge that differences, were adopting a fortress mentality, determined to keep their wealth for themselves and demonising those who came in search of a better life.
"This is a trend that has increasingly ugly, xenophobic undertones to it. There is a tendency to demonise those who come to rich societies in search of a better life," Mrs Robinson said.
She expressed concern that migrants were being exploited, made into scapegoats for a country's economic ills and, too often, turned away.
Unscrupulous politicians, she said, were playing on anti-immigrant fears.
In a clear reference to Austria's Freedom Party and France's National Front, Mrs Robinson accused far-right parties in Europe of stoking racial tensions.
"Unfortunately, not all political leaders act in a responsible way. The rise of far-right parties in Europe is a clear example of unscrupulous politicians playing on fears," the UN high commissioner said.
All governments, Mrs Robinson said, had a responsibility to lead the fight against racism and not to turn a blind eye to xenophobia.