Physical differences, such as skin colour; hair colour and texture; and eye, nose and lip shapes were previously thought to reflect distinct biological and behavioural differences between people. Recent findings in genetics reject the scientific value of the concept of race. Advances in DNA research in the last 20 years demonstrate that, on average, 99.9 percent of the genetic features of humans are the same; of the remaining percentage that accounts for variation, differences within groups are larger than between groups; only six genes out of at least 100,000 that make up the human genome account for differences in skin colour; variations in colour are not discrete, but are distributed along a continuum, which reflects different levels of melanin in the skin; and many physical differences are due to environmental adaptations. Despite efforts to disseminate these findings, including adoption of the International Convention Against All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1965, a gulf exists between scientific knowledge and popular beliefs about race. Trivial as physical differences may be in accounting for biological attributes, they structure perceptions and constitute a significant source of prejudice in social relations. Racial ideas may influence discourses on social integration or accommodation, encourage insular or xenophobic practices, and distort perceptions about rights and citizenship. Citizens are supposed to be carriers of equal rights and obligations. In polarized racial settings, however, social solidarity, the cornerstone of citizenship, may be embedded in racial-not civic-networks, affecting the way the public domain is governed. However, it is instructive to note that all communities, whether based on racial identification or ethnicity, are complex, undergo change, and experience internal diversities and conflicts. Race, in other words, is not only constructed: it is also contested. The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) is organizing an international conference on 'Racism and Public Policy' from 3 5 September 2001 in Durban, South Africa. The conference will coincide with the 'World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance', scheduled to be held in the same city from 31 August to 7 September 2001. The UNRISD conference will address four main themes: 1. The social construction of race and citizenship 2. The social dynamics of racism and inequalities 3. Organized responses to cultural diversity 4. The impact of public policies on race relations About 30 high level social scientists, historians and legal scholars are invited to lead discussions. The meeting will be open to the public, which will include officials from international agencies, non-governmental organizations, the media, government representatives and academics. The UNRISD Racism and Public Policy conference will provide participants attending the World Conference with research-based information and a neutral forum in which to discuss the sensitive issues of racism and xenophobia. By combining academic research with a strong policy focus, the UNRISD conference represents a unique and comprehensive contribution to the World Conference. UNRISD plans to disseminate the findings of its research for the conference in a variety of formats, including Programme Papers, an issue of Conference News, and edited volumes. Papers prepared for the conference will be available on the UNRISD Racism and Public Policy website. If you would like further information regarding the event, please visit UNRISD website <http://www.unrisd.org/racism> or contact Thomas Ansorg, UNRISD, Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland, tel: +41.22.917.2981, fax: +41.22.917.0650, e-mail: email@example.com Important: please note that the list of participants has been finalized and that persons planning to attend should register with UNRISD prior to the event. An online registration form will be made available on the UNRISD website soon. ======== Global Human Rights Education listserv ======== Send mail intended for the list to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Archives of the list can be found at: http://www.hrea.org/lists/hr-education/ To subscribe to the list, send a message to <email@example.com>, with the following text in the message: subscribe hr-education To unsubscribe from the list, send a message to <firstname.lastname@example.org>, with the following text in the message: unsubscribe hr-education If you have problems (un)subscribing, contact <email@example.com>. *Por información en espanol, por favor contactar <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Pour assistance en francais, merci de contacter <email@example.com>. **You are welcome to reprint, copy, archive, quote or re-post this item, but please retain the original and listserv source.
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