Timeline: How Libyan-funded GONGO “North Sud XXI” Leads Lobbying Campaign for Durban II NGO Forum

Not only is Libya’s Qaddafi regime heading the 20-member planning bureau of the Durban II racism conference, but the one behind the steady drumbeat calling for the UN conference to feature a NGO Forum has been none other than “Nord Sud XXI”, a Libyan-funded front organization, or “GONGO”, which tragically infiltrated the Geneva NGO world long ago.

For the past year, Nord Sud XXI — which hides its connection to the Libyans and dual identity as the Muammar Qaddafi Prize Human Rights Prize committee  — has been leading the campaign for a NGO Forum:

  • May 2008: Nord Sud XXI media campaign for Durban II. Nord Sud XXI representative Curtis Doebbler — lawyer for former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein — expressed his outrage at a South African journalist who reported the news that the Durban II conference would take place in Geneva instead of Africa: “[L]et us hope that the South African government will prove that it has the courage to speak up in defense of Durban II and to throw its whole-hearted support behind it. By not holding Durban II the struggle against insidious discrimination and intolerance will suffer a serious setback. And only by holding Durban II in the South can this Review  Conference be made truly accessible to civil society from all over the world…” Click for Letter
  • May 2008: Nord Sud XXI lobbies for NGO Forum. With no shame, the Libyan-run Nord Sud XXI helped organize a joint NGO letter sent to the Libyan chair of the Durban II planning committee, demanding that the UN allocate space for a NGO Forum adjacent to the conference, as well as funding to fly in activists from around the world, and castigating UN officials who dared to disagree:  “We are equally concerned over recent remarks by representatives of the UN Secretariat which tend to discourage the holding of an NGO Forum at the Review Conference, contrary to UN tradition… [We call for] “a positive decision [to be] taken to enable civil society to fully contribute to a successful Durban Review Process and that financial resources are allocated to support the holding of an NGO Forum in the immediate vicinity of the official Conference site.”  See: http://nordsud21.ch/08-05-23%20NGO%20Letter%20to%20Chair%20of%20Prep%20Com.pdf
  • May 2008: Speech delivered in Swaziland, urging African Commission to support Durban process. “Nord Sud XXI wishes to make use of its vantage point as an NGO founded by almost two dozen of Africa’s most respected independence leaders and its position as an NGO active at the United Nations both in New York and Geneva to bring to your attention some matters of concern…. While this [Durban] process is strongly supported by all people of Africa, who still suffer from the scars of past discrimination as well as contemporary forms of discrimination and intolerance, there are others who seek to stop the Review Conference or limit its remit so as to backtrack on commitments made in Durban in 2001. Most of this resistance to the 2009 Review Conference has come from outside Africa. Nevertheless, this resistance can only succeed if Africans remain silent. We urge the Commission to publicly express its support for the 2009 Durban Review Conference and to ensure that the Review Conference it builds on the progress achieved in 2001….” Statement by Nord Sud XXI to the 43rd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Euzulwini, Swaziland, May 2008. See: http://www.nordsud21.ch/African%20Commission%20Oral%20Statement%20_Item%204_.pdf
  • June 2008: Nord Sud XXI makes joint statement to UN with group that distributed anti-Semitic literature at 2001 Durban conference. Nord-Sud XXI made a joint statement to the UN Human Rights Council in support of Durban II together with the Arab Lawyers Union, the group that was condemned by High Commissioner Mary Robinson in 2001 for distributing an anti-Semitic Hitler flyer, as well as the General Arab Women Federation and the Union of Arab Jurists.  In August 2008, at the Paris UNDPI NGO conference, Nord Sud XXI also co-sponsored an event with the Arab Lawyers Union.
  • September 19, 2008: Nord Sud XXI, in address to UN Human Rights Council, demands NGO Forum, attacks Durban skeptics. “We can imagine that all states, and indeed the United Nations itself, through the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, will strongly support the Review Conference, will speak out against those who try to oppose the conference, will support the efforts of NGOs to organize a strong NGO Forum, and will ensure that civil society can contribute to the Durban Review Conference.”
    See http://nordsud21.ch/statement%20Durban%20HRC%2008.pdf
  • October 2008: Nord Sud XXI is key player at meetings to plan NGO Forum.
    On the sidelines of the October 2008 Durban II prep session, a coalition of fringe groups met over three days, Oct 15-17, to to plan a NGO Forum. Nord Sud XXI played a key role at each meeting, urging the UN to adopt a decision to organize a NGO Forum, nominating themselves to be on the coordinating committee for it, and making statements attacking Israel.

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Nord Sud XXI Role as Agitator at 2001 Durban Conference

In all the literature on  the 2001 Durban conference, it’s not clear that observers ever appreciated the particular role played by this Libyan GONGO.

  • June 26-28, 2001:  Nord Sud XXI convened African conference in Goree, Senegal, in advance of Durban conference. A co-sponsor of the event was UIDH, which received $100,000 in funding from Libya after Nord Sud XXI recommended them for the Qaddafi Prize. Speaking on behalf of Nord Sud XXI was Nuri D. El Hamedi of Libya (listed in a October 2008 news report as secretary-general of the Muammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize Committee, and as secretary of the Libyan Popular General Committee of Culture and Information):

Au nom du Président Ahmed Ben Bella, empêché par des contraintes majeures d’être avec nous, et au nom de l’organisation Nord-Sud XXI, c’est avec un immense plaisir que nous saluons tous les participants à cette Conférence. . . Aujourd’hui, quand Maommar Khadafi réaffirme la nécessité de la création de l’Union Africaine et appelle les Etats arabes à la soutenir, voire à entretenir des rapports stratégiques avec elle, il appelle en réalité à faire revivre l’alliance scellée autrefois entre Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ahmed Ben Bella, Kwamé Nkrumah, Ahmed Sekhou Touré, Patrice Lumumba et d’autres combattants dans Cette région en tant que partie indivisible du mouvement de libération africaine.  See http://nordsud21.ch/revue%20Nord-Sud%20XXI,%20Gorée.pdf, at 21.

  • January 2002: Joint statement to UN Human Rights Council, with affiliated group Centre Europe-Tiers Monde (CETIM), in praise of the 2001 Durban conference. Click for text.  Nord Sud XXI has funded CETIM, a fellow Geneva NGO, by granting it the Kadhafi Prize cash award in the year 2000. (See note 33 here.)  

1 Response to “Timeline: How Libyan-funded GONGO “North Sud XXI” Leads Lobbying Campaign for Durban II NGO Forum”


  • Allegations about where one organisation receives its funding, and whether they have ties to any particular government can only lead to ongoing mistrust and disenfranchisement of the NGO community.

    why not spend your time arguing about the points of the Durban Declaration that you oppose instead of slinging mud like this? Are you afraid of reminding the world that there are ongoing violations of Palestinian’s human rights sanctioned by the government of Israel?

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