UN rights chief appeals for anti-racism conference

The UN rights chief on Monday rejected fears that an upcoming UN conference on racism might turn into an anti-Semitic diatribe and urged countries to make the meeting a success by focusing on global issues. The conference scheduled for April 20-25 has been disparaged in media reports and attacked by a lobbying campaign of those who fear a repetition of anti-Israel moves that marred the first racism conference in 2001, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said. "This is unwarranted," Pillay told the UN Human Rights Council, urging all countries to put aside "narrow, parochial interests and reflexive partisanship" and work for an agreement that would help eradicate discrimination. "Failure to do so may reverberate negatively on the full spectrum of human rights work and mechanisms for years to come," Pillay said.