In a press release issued by the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation it is highlighted that the issue of caste discrimination should have been included in the final outcome document of the UN Durban Review Conference.

Despite otherwise welcoming the outcome document, the LWF and WCC state their regret that the conference has “failed to acknowledge the suffering of the more than 200 million people discriminated against on the basis of work and descent.” The organizations comment that, “Formerly known as untouchables, the Dalits are “invisible” in the 21 April outcome document, despite their situation falling squarely under the definition of racial discrimination by UN standards.”

In March, both organizations convened a conference in Bangkok, Thailand, at which representatives of churches and church-related organizations from around the world expressed their solidarity with the Dalit struggle for justice. Read the IDSN news article on the conference here.

WCC and LWF furthermore welcomed the proposal made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to create an “observatory on discrimination,” which may help throw further light on the situation of the millions of victims of untouchability practices. There are some 260 million Dalits worldwide, 200 million of them in India.

This news article is based on the press release from the LWF and WCC issued on 24 April 2009 – Download the original press release here.

Learn more about WCC work in solidarity with Dalits here