Durban II outcome document formally adopted

The final outcome document of the Durban Review Conference was formally adopted at the U.N. today.

Click here for the U.N. report of the conference.

In general debate at the close of the conference, countries took the floor to congratulate one another for reaching Tuesday’s “consensus” on the text. A few states, though, had clarifications regarding their acceptance of it.

The United Kingdom said it could affirm the document only because it is “generic and does not single out any country.” Referring to paragraphs relating to freedom of speech and incitement to hatred, it said, “we have a long tradition of free speech and offensive opinions may be expressed,” as long as they are non-violent. The UK also stated that discrimination based on sexual orientation is no less important than discrimination on racial grounds.

Pakistan called on U.N. officials to “maintain balance” and “not judge any heads of state.” It also decried Islamophobia as a new form of racism. In closing, it chastised those who boycotted the conference or only participated at a low level.

South Africa expressed its concern about “the manner in which some expressed their opposition to a head of state.” Referring implicitly to the students in clown wigs who yelled at Iranian President Ahmadinejad, it decried the endangering of the “security of high dignitaries.”

Russia specifically thanked the Palestinian delegation, implicitly for its “flexibility” in permitting the text to exclude the singling out of the Palestinian cause (unlike the 2001 Durban text).

Switzerland commended the text for mentioning freedom of expression, democracy, the Holocaust, the slave trade, women’s rights, and various forms of discrimination. (It neglected to mention that freedom of expression, the Holocaust and women’s rights were downplayed throughout the negotiation process and reduced in the final text compared to earlier drafts, as well as the document’s failure to mention discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.)

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