October 23, 2008
Contact:
Anna Christopher, NPR



   

U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER NAVANETHEM PILLAY
SAYS LACK OF IMPLEMENTATION HALTING HUMAN RIGHTS PROGRESS,
CALLS FOR ALL NATIONS TO PARTICIPATE IN FOLLOW UP
TO CONTROVERSIAL 2001 WORLD CONFERENCE
ON NPR NEWS TELL ME MORE TODAY

PILLAY SAYS CONTROVERSY AT 2001 CONFERENCE: “NOT CAUSE
FOR A RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT TO WALK OUT OF A MEETING”

EXCERPTS BELOW; AUDIO AVAILABLE AT NPR.org



October 23, 2008; Washington, D.C. – In an interview airing today on the NPR news and talk show Tell Me More, Navanethem Pillay, who was recently appointed the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, tells host Michel Martin that the most pressing challenge to improving human rights is implementation. “We have the right language, we have the rhetoric; we do not have implementation of these principles in almost every part of the world. Every country, for instance, has problems of domestic violence. Every country has problems of discrimination on racial grounds and, in some parts of the world more acutely, discrimination on religious grounds.” The entire interview is available at: www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=96023419

Pillay has called for a global conference in April 2009 on racism, xenophobia and intolerance, to examine compliance on standards created at the controversial 2001 World Conference. In the interview, Martin asks Pillay how she will ensure the participation of all member nations, after the United States and Israel walked out of the 2001 conference because of anti-Semitism: “I have called for participation by all states, because it is when you participate that your voice is heard, whatever your opinion you stake it there. And the U.S., mind you, is not without race problems – in fact, much more so in other parts of the world. My country has come out of apartheid. So, every country needs to participate because we want to achieve common standards, common consensus, and common guidelines on the kind of laws we should pass, the kind of training our police and law enforcement officers should receive.”

She continues: “It was controversial, mind you, because there was a small minority in the NGO forum, which was outside the main conference, which became rather rabid and vigilant in anti-Semitic statements. And that hurt and upset many people, but – in my view – is not cause for a responsible government to walk out of a meeting or to announce that it will not attend the follow-up conference.”

All excerpts must be credited to NPR News Tell Me More. Television usage must include on-screen credit with NPR logo. Audio of the interview is available here: www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=96023419

Tell Me More brings fresh voices and perspectives to public radio. The daily one-hour program hosted by Michel Martin captures the headlines, issues and pleasures relevant to multicultural life in America. It is a production of NPR News in association with the African American Public Radio Consortium, representing 22 independent public radio stations that serve predominantly black communities. For stations and broadcast times, visit www.NPR.org