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The 2002 session of the UN Commission was the first to take place following major world events including the World Conference against Racism which was held from August 31 to 7 September, 2001 in Durban, South Africa, the heinous terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States as well as the increasing violence of the second intifada in the Middle East. Further, this was the first time ever that the United States did not participate as an elected member of the Commission. Understandably, the international situation did not help to create a spirit of cooperation and goodwill among governments. Notwithstanding the tensions, the UN Commission remains the highest body for dealing with the major human rights issues of the world.

Both at the UN Commission and Sub-Commission, Dominicans, in conjunction with Franciscans International, provided direct testimonies on issues such as the death penalty, religious intolerance in Pakistan, sanctions in Iraq, and the bombing of the island of Vieques in Puerto Rico. In their statement on the rights of minorities in Pakistan, Dominicans spoke about religious intolerance as one of the root causes of a number of conflicts and ongoing violence in the world. Concerning Iraq, Dominicans called on the international community to “take all means possible to bring an end to the sanctions which are killing the children of Iraq.” Dominicans for Justice and Peace also called for an end to the bombings in Vieques, Puerto Rico, which has been used for the last 60 years for weapons testing by the U.S., NATO countries, and arms manufacturers, and also for the decontamination of the island. While calling for the universal abolition of the death penalty, Dominicans for Justice and Peace highlighted the case of Javier Suàrez Medina that resulted in actions taken by the Chairperson of the Sub-Commission and others urging U.S. authorities to stop the execution.
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