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“Bigotry, hated, prejudice – these are the ugly symptoms of a sickness humanity and everywhere suffered. Racism can, will and be defeated” Kofi Annan United Nations Secretary-General.

The fight against racism has been at heart of the mission of the United Nations aver since its founding in shadow of the horrors of the Second Word War. Never again was the world to witness the persecution of people based on their race, the drafters of the United Nations Charter vowed. They enshrined in that historic document that everyone, regardless of color, sex, language or religion, was entitle to enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

What is left of that vision fifty years later? There has been progress in making the dream of equality a reality – as the drafters of the Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights envisaged. Their vision has become international law with the adoption of numerous international human right instrument, particularly a treaty to ban racial discrimination. Apartheid has been defeated. Also, science has definitively put to rest any biological or physiological justification for unequal treatment of individuals.

Yet, the dream remains only half fulfilled. As technology brings the peoples of the world closer together and political barriers tumble, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance continue to ravage our societies. In recent years, the world has coined a new term, “ethnic cleansing”, to describe the re-emergence of an age-old phenomenon. There is persistent, and in some cases increased, discrimination against minorities, indigenous people and migrants. Additionally, harsher immigration and asylum policies, and the spread to the Internet of ideas of racial superiority and incitement to racial hated, have exacerbated racial tensions. Even slavery, both in traditional as well as its traditional as well as in its more contemporary forms, continues to be practiced in certain parts of the world and remains a grave problem.


T E X T 1




In some countries, like the United States, it is an individual's right to own a gun. But should people have this right? Or should private ownership of guns not be allowed? There is strong debate on this issue in Britain.

Michael North, whose five-year-old daughter Sophie was killed by Thomas Hamilton at Dunblane with a legally owned handgun, calls for a ban on such weapons

...Since that day many of my thoughts have been focused on gun control, on why we as a society allow civilians to own weapons as dangerous as handguns.

I have been told by senior politicians that the United Kingdom already has some of the tightest gun laws in the world. This may be so, but they were clearly not tight enough and there is no room for complacency. At present a firearms certificate can be granted for a handgun to anyone who can show good reason for possessing it, and that need only be the wish to target-shoot. If a shooter persuades the police that he needs different guns for different shooting disciplines then he can have any number of handguns, perhaps as many as 30. It might be expected that with ownership of as dangerous an instrument as a gun the onus would be on the applicant to prove beyond all doubt that he is and will continue to be a fit person to hold a firearms certificate. However, under present legislation the certificate will be granted unless the police can demonstrate that the applicant is not a fit person, something which they appear to find very difficult to prove. Only 1-2 % of firearms certificate applications are refused. Once granted, the certificate allows a person to hold guns for three years before renewal (there were even moves to relax this to five years). During that period the behaviour of the gun holder could change dramatically as a result of domestic problems, drinking or mental illness. At the start of 1995, a police constable involved in the renewal of Hamilton's gun license expressed doubts about his suitability, yet he was still granted a license for another three years. We now know the dreadful consequences of that decision.

Handgun owners claim they have a “right” to shoot and that the vast majority of them are responsible. However if we are to compare rights, the “right” to own a gun comes very low down on a scale in which the right to be safe and protected from lethal weapons and the right to life are paramount. If you cannot be absolutely certain that every person owning a handgun will be safe, then in my view there is only one possible course of action: the banning of the private use of handguns. Handguns are only used for a pastime – target-shooting – but were designed for another purpose, killing, and are the most dangerous of weapons. They are easily concealed: Thomas Hamilton was seen entering Dunblane Primary School but no one would have been able to tell he was carrying guns. Many bullets can be fired rapidly from semi-automatic weapons. Even single loading pistols can be reloaded rapidly:

Thomas Hamilton’s killing spree lasted only three minutes but within that time he fired over 100 rounds of ammunition – including the bullets which killed my daughter.

Vocabulary: complacency: satisfaction with the present situation and an unwilling ness to change; onus: responsibility; paramount: more important than anything else.

T E X T 2





In the USA they have tried having a 'curfew' to stop youth crime. This means young people are not allowed out on the streets after a certain time in the evening. Do you think this is an effective way of dealing with crime? What do young people think about it?

Jonathan Freedland in Washington watches the city's youth react to an attempt to curb their freedomand discovers that not one arrest has been made in 12 months

The witching hour approaches, when Washington’s teenagers will turn not into pumpkins but suspects. It is 10.40 pm just 20 minutes to go before the city’s curfew comes into force – and the mood is still

The scene is the 7-Eleven at Tenley Town in north-west Washington, not a glamour location for adults perhaps – but a hang-out for the area's mainly middle-class teenagers. On a summer evening they flock here, to pick up some chips at the McDonald’s across the road, to buy a packet of fags, to scope out the opposite sex.

But they’re not here now Maybe it's because it's a school night; maybe it's because Washington’s year-old curfew is so effective, the city’s teens don’t want to risk being caught out after hours. A police car waits ominously across the street.

The minutes crawl by At 10 47 a woman in evening dress – not a teenager – totters in to use the payphone.

Then, as if on cue, they appear. On the stroke of 11 – precisely (he moment when they are meant to be off the streets and tucked up in bed – the teens invade

“What curfew?” says one, not really joking. “Most of us don’t follow it,” explains Kathy, 16 years old and tiny in the driver’s seat of her mum's big Acura car. She says the police don't enforce the rule – which bans youths l6 and younger from public places between 11 pm and 6 am on weekdays and from midnight on Fridays and Saturdays – and official police figures bear her put. Not a single Washington teenager has been formally arrested under the law since it was passed last summer.

“They instituted it basically as a threat, and they never followed it through,” says Jason Pielemeier, his hair cropped, his ear pierced and his face flush with the fact that this is his last week of high school. “They made a big deal of it for the First couple of weeks and then you didn't hear about it”.

If the cops are around, though, it makes all the difference. Next week Jason and his buddies will engage in the teenage summer ritual of Beach Week – invading a resort for seven days of drinking and mating. Their destination is Dewey Beach, Delaware, where the curfew starts at midnight and applies to everyone under 18. “There’s a cop on every comer with a breathalyser,” says Jason. I’ll definitely be thinking about it then.

But tonight at Tenley Town curfews matter less than hiding from the guy who fancies you and that classmate you've been avoiding The kids keep coming, barefoot girls and whis­kery boys in grungy shorts long enough to reach their ankles.

'Are you talking about all the ways you can totally get round if asks Halah Al-Jubeir, springing open a new packet of Merit cigarettes as she slides up to a group of girls counting off exemptions to (he curfew In Washington, you’re allowed to stay out if you are accompanied by an adult – including an 18-year-old brother or boyfriend – participating in a school-sanctioned activity or even running an errand for a parent. When President Clinton praised curfews last month, he spoke in favour of such loopholes – but the teens of Tenley Town are not impressed. “There are so many excuses, it’s ridiculous,” says Halah.

Being good Americans, the kids’ main objection to the cur­few is that it violates their rights. “I think it’s a matter of principle, I don’t think the government should” say where you can be and when, fumes David Brunner. “1 should have certain inherent rights, like the right to stay but as late as I want.”

The American Civil Liberties Union agrees, claiming teenagers are being singled out for lesser rights than other Americans, and that law-abiding kids are being punished along with (he troublemakers. In fact it’s usually the parents who are punished – shelling out fines of up to $500 in some towns.

Now aged 17, Caroline Woolfe is beyond the reach of Washington’s curfew. But when she was l6, she was sitting on the porch of her own house when a police car slowed down and an officer yelled at her “to go on home”.

The kids all say the curfew serves as an excuse for police who want to give crap to teenagers, and that if there is to be an enforced bedtime it should be parents, not the law, which sets it. Kathy is explaining how the curfew unfairly presumes “that a teenager after dark is automatically dangerous” when she checks her bleeper and realises the time. “My mum gave me a curfew of 11, she says hurriedly. I’ve got to get home.”

Vocabulary curb: control, limit; witching hour: important moment when something is going to happen; flock: gather together in great numbers; ban: forbid; loophole: way of avoiding something; shelling out: paying out; give crap to: make life difficult for (slang).

T E X T 3




Childhood is a time of joy and innocence for most people: for others, life turns violent and so do they. Criminal acts of young persons are referred tobroadly as juvenile delinquency. In some countries delinquency includes conduct that is antisocial, dangerous, or harmful to the goals of society.The general tendency is to limit the term to activities that if carried out by an adult would be called crimes, but in the United States since the 1980s juvenile delinquents are often referred to as "youthful offenders."The age at which juveniles legally become adults varies from country to country, but it generally ranges from 15 to 18. Clearly the problem has skyrocketed:for example, in 1990 rates of arrest in California for burglary, theft, car theft, arson and robbery are higher among juveniles than among adults.

Sociological research has established such bases for predicting delinquent behaviour as the nature of a child's home environment, the quality of the child's neighbourhood, and behaviour in school. It has never been conclusively proved, however, that delinquency can be either predicted or prevented.


Nature-nurture controversy

Some psychologists believe that there is an inherited flawin the genetic makeup of a criminal that leads to rejection of society's standards. Others note that many violent prisoners have higher than normal levels of the male sex hormone testosterone.

The contrary opinion tends to view delinquents as not substantially different from the remainder of the population. Not alhsturdily built individuals, for instance, become criminals; many make their living as athletes or in a variety of professions. Studies in Great Britain have shown that delinquents tend to come from families where there is tension and much difficulty in interpersonal relationships. Family breakdownis also found to be a significant factor.

Many delinquents come from homes where the parents abuse alcohol or drugs or are themselves criminals. Poverty, physical and verbalabuse, parents with little respect for themselves, and erratic discipline patternsemerge as contributing factors in such research.


Social factors

In the United States, Europe, and Japan, most delinquents are boys, though since the early 1980s the number of delinquents who are girls has risen dramatically. Most of these in the United States come from the lower middle class and the poorest segments of society. One reason for this is the low esteemin which education is often held in these groups. Schooling seems boring and unchallenging, and the delinquent rebels against it by cutting classes or disrupting themand eventually may drop out altogether - as more then one quarter of teens did by the early 1990s. Such youths find in each other's company a compensation fortheir educational failureby rejecting the social values to which they are supposed to adhere. To make up forthis failure, and finding their job market limited, they live dangerously and show contempt for authority.

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