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Published by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.


Contact: Matt Itelson
phone: (415) 338-1665 or (415) 338-1743

U. N. international conference on racism: SFSU faculty experts are available to comment

SAN FRANCISCO, August 31, 2001 - Several members of the San Francisco State University faculty are available to provide analysis on the United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance. The conference began today in Durban, South Africa. The faculty members are following the events of the conference and can provide timely commentary. For additional assistance in locating an expert to comment on the U.N. racism conference, call the SFSU Public Aff airs Office at (415) 338-1665.

JoAnn Aviel, professor of international relations, is the co-editor of "Multilateral Diplomacy and the United Nations Today," published by Westview Press in 1999. She also teaches a course titled "Model United Nations," which explores the major social, economic, political and constitutional issues before the United Nations.

Aviel said she believes the conference will begin a global dialogue on racism, but is unsure if much will be accomplished. "With this being the United Nations, everything gets politicized," she said. "Less gets accomplished, and people expose their opponent's failures, as with the anti-Israel sentiments."

She added that this conference is an example of how the United Nations is allowing more "nongovernmental" voices to be heard.

"There are increasing roles of nongovernmental organizations at the level of multilateral diplomacy," Aviel said. "Nonprofits and many different groups are bringing their views into play that may differ from the views of their governments."

Aviel may be reached at her office at (415) 338-1448 her home at (650) 573-0410 or via e-mail at

Laura Head, professor of black studies, can comment on racism against African Americans and reparations issues. She has taught a class on racism at SFSU for more than 10 years and has been on the SFSU faculty since 1978.

"An international discussion of the consequences of various types of racist behaviors is needed," she said. "Research shows that the wealth of Europe is based on the African slave trade, and I would like to see a discussion of that." Head also favors reparations for African Americans.

She may be reached at her office at (415) 338-2309, her home at (510) 531-1420 or via e-mail at

Chris Bettinger, assistant professor of sociology, studies politics of sub-Saharan African countries and ethnic conflict in the United States. He teaches a course on international comparisons of ethnic relations.

He said the conference gives Third World countries a voice, in contrast to World Trade Organization conferences, which he said are mainly forums for the richer, industrialized nations.

"Smaller, Third World nations have begun to find vehicles for collective protection of trade agreements and are learning how global economics work," he said. "There has been resistance from many of the industrialized nations to participate in this conference, yet they are jockeying to be friendly with developing countries."

Bettinger may be reached at his office at (415) 405-0399, his home at (415) 863-2144 or via e-mail at

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