Archive for the 'Durban 2009' Category

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Iran concerned about pre-Durban II human rights summit featuring former prisoner Ahmed Batebi

Speaking today at a working group for Durban II at the U.N. Human Rights Council, Iran voiced its concern about an upcoming Geneva summit of human rights activists, to be held on the eve of Durban II, which will feature former Iranian prisoner of conscience Ahmed Batebi, made famous by his front cover picture in The Economist, holding the bloodied t-shirt of a fellow student demonstrator.

Iran complained to the U.N. meeting that the April 19th Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy reserved the premier conference location across the street from the UN, while an alternative gathering — one spearheaded by a pro-Libyan group — will take place in a more remote location in the city. The Geneva Summit, said Iran, “had decided, with a lot of possibility, to reserve the Geneva Center for International Conferences, while other NGOs are forced to use Plainpalais.”

Iran issued the comment in the context of paragraph 139 of the Durban II draft text, which proposes funding for NGOs. Iran said that NGOs and experts in general should not be funded, but only those coming from developing countries.

The Czech Republic, speaking for the European Union (EU), opposed Iran’s amendment, saying, “We want all NGO’s and experts to be supported and not only the ones from developing countries.”

As for Iran’s comment that only certain NGOs can reserve the Geneva Conference Center whereas others (from developing countries) are forced to use Plainpalais due to financial and technical issues, the chairman replied that he thinks Plainpalais is beautiful and lively, which produced some laughter in the room.

Other issues discussed today included the flawed follow-up mechanisms to implementation of the 2001 Durban Declaration and Program of Action (DDPA), as well as the role of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The EU said that it wanted to have a debate about follow-up mechanisms in the context of the Durban II negotiations, whereas most other countries objected that this should be a task of the Human Rights Council (where the U.N. African-Islamic majority will have an easier time pushing its agenda).

The debate on the OHCHR centered on a paragraph regarding an OHCHR observatory to implement the DDPA. At the end of the session, a representative of the OHCHR spoke, explaining that the observatory “is not a mechanism by itself, nor a monitoring tool, nor a tool to rank countries or compare their performances. It is a tool to enhance the effectiveness of mechanisms.” Following the clarification, the OHCHR observatory paragraph was adopted by consensus.

ABOUT THE GENEVA SUMMIT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, TOLERANCE, AND DEMOCRACY

Organized by 40 human rights NGOs including UN Watch, SOS Racisme, and Freedom House, and to take place one day before the opening of the U.N. Durban Review Conference, the Geneva Summit—bringing together some of the world’s most well-known human rights heroes, genocide survivors, prisoners of conscience, anti-racism activists, and scholars of international law—will be a critical opportunity for NGO representatives from around the globe to call on the international community to address urgent and ongoing situations of genocide, ethnic cleansing, racial, ethnic, religious, sexual, and political discrimination.The speakers at the Geneva Summit include some of today’s most prominent figures in the global human rights movement: Saad Eddin Ibrahim of Egypt; Bo Kyi of Burma; Ester Mujawayo of Rwanda; Floyd Abrams from the United States; Ahmed Batebi of Iran; Irwin Cotler from Canada; and Jose Castillo from Cuba. In addition, the new generation of activists and cyber-dissidents will be represented by Bart Woord of the International Federation of Liberal Youth, and Esra’a al Shafei, who recently won an award from Harvard University award for her cutting-edge blog for human rights in the Middle East. TO REGISTER, CLICK ON Geneva Summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy .

Freedom of expression, Middle East core of Durban II negotiations

This morning’s debate at the U.N. Human Rights Council, in the Intercessional Working Group for the Durban Review Conference (“Durban II”), centered on a few topics in which state opinions widely diverged. One such bone of contention was the issue of freedom of expression vs. speech limitations to prevent criticism of religions (“defamation of religions”). Another involved controversial “past injustices,” including the “plight of Palestinians”/condemnation of Israel, as well as the demand that Western countries pay reparations for the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Continue reading ‘Freedom of expression, Middle East core of Durban II negotiations’

Switzerland urges endorsement of Durban II draft

In the afternoon today, the mission of Switzerland hosted a meeting on the upcoming Durban Review Conference. Swiss diplomat Muriel Berset said Switzerland is satisfied with the document in its current form as it meets the state’s three requirements, meaning that Switzerland could accept the document as it is. She said it will not be making any new suggestions, but will respond to amendments proposed, and also urged all parties to refrain from bringing new language or ideas into the document.

Continue reading ‘Switzerland urges endorsement of Durban II draft’

Discussions commence on latest Durban II text

Today at the U.N. Human Rights Council, states began negotiations of the latest (March 17) draft outcome document for Durban Review Conference, also known as “Durban II.” In this infomral meeting of the Intercessional Working Group, most states endorsed the text.

Continue reading ‘Discussions commence on latest Durban II text’

L’ANTIRACISME EN DANGER : La société civile se mobilise

A moins d’un mois de la tenue de la Conférence d’examen de Durban de l’ONU – Genève 2009 (20 au 24 avril), la Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme vous convie à participer à un

GRAND MEETING CITOYEN

L’ANTIRACISME EN DANGER !

La société civile se mobilise

avec le soutien de SOS Racisme, le Grand Orient de France, la Grande Loge Féminine de France, le Comité Laïcité République, l’UEJF, la Confédération étudiante, Regards de Femmes, la Ligue du Droit International des Femmes, Le Meilleur des Mondes, UN Watch, la Coordination des Berbères de France, etc.

Mardi 7 avril 2009 à 20h15 à la Maison du Barreau 2/4, rue de Harlay 75001 Paris

Réservation obligatoire auprès de Frédéric : 01 45 08 08 08 – licra2@licra.org

Dutch proposal for Durban II

Draft outcome document to the Durban Review Conference, to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, 20-24 April 2009, based on agreed paragraphs during the Intersessional Working Groups in January and February 2009

Assess the progress made since 2001 in the combat against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and request all States to hand in one page with progress on the national level since 2001;

Notes the continued existence of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, and inequality in all spheres of human life, and non compliance with specific obligations in the promotion and protection of equality at the national, regional and international levels and reaffirms the obligation of States to take action in this respect;

Continue reading ‘Dutch proposal for Durban II’

Dissenting Voices on Durban II


German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier — “EU threatens boycott of UN racism talks,” International Herald Tribune, March 16, 2009

[The conference] might be abused to produce one-sided statements [about the Middle East]… I am in favor of canceling participation in the conference, unless the documents are changed substantially within the next hours and days.


Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime VerhagenRemarks to foreign affairs committee of the Dutch parliament, March 12, 2009

The document is unacceptable. My red lines are: religion is misused to stand above individual rights. There should be no excuse in the text to condone violence against homosexuals, anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing… I am actively involved in the matter. There will be no compromises regarding principles. I am aiming for a joint withdrawal of all EU ministers, unless the document is not changed. If this does not succeed, then I am not afraid to unilaterally withdraw from Durban. Principles come first.

U.S. Representative and Chair of House Foreign Affairs Committee Howard BermanLetter to the Los Angeles Times, “Stepping up on human rights,” March 12, 2009

President Obama sent a salvage operation team that quickly revealed that the opportunity already had been lost. There weren’t any willing partners to refocus the conference on fighting racism, xenophobia and intolerance. And so the president made the hard but right choice: The U.S. should not associate itself with this effort to vilify Israel and to undermine human rights standards.

Continue reading ‘Dissenting Voices on Durban II’

South Africa betrays principles on gay rights

By Marissa Cramer, Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fellow at UN Watch

Human rights activists and other UN observers were surprised by South Africa’s opposition to recognizing gay rights during recent negotiations on the outcome document for the Durban Review Conference, whose stated aim is to combat racism, discrimination, and intolerance of any kind. The South African representative said that issues of sexual orientation go “beyond the framework of the Durban Declaration.”

The European Union had proposed a while back that the Durban II declaration include protection for gays. However, after strong opposition from Muslim governments, who invoked the omission of gay rights in the 2001 Durban text, the United Kingdom on February 18th suggested an amendment to list sexual orientation only as an aggravating factor, when it intersects with racism. This U.K. proposal prompted South Africa’s response.

The irony of South Africa’s opposition to recognizing gay rights is that it betrays the principles of its own constitution, which states:

Continue reading ‘South Africa betrays principles on gay rights’

Dutch FM Verhagen ‘deeply disturbed’ by Durban II

At the High Level Segment of the UN Human Rights Council today, the FM of Netherlands took a forceful stand on Durban II, while Denmark and Italy also sounded an alarm. The EU (represented by the Czech Republic) and Belgium expressed concerns. Germany, Portugal and Luxembourg were weak. Relevant segments from their speeches follow below.

Czech Republic for the E.U. (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Karel Schwarzenberg): We engage constructively in the preparatory process and are ready to full participate in the Durban Review Conference next month. Nevertheless, the EU cannot subscribe to the outcome of this conference, where the result would limit, or undermine human rights and fundamental freedoms. The EU remains committed to the Durban Review Conference and believes that the final text will in the end be much shorter than the current one and reflect our principles as we have clearly outlined from the beginning.

The Netherlands (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Verhagen): Reaching out to one another does not mean we will not always agree. It is safe to say that we will continue to have our differences. And that is legitimate. What is not legitimate is holding the entire UN human rights system hostage to those differences. Take the Durban Review Conference as an example. The Netherlands is firmly committed to eliminating racism and related forms of intolerance. We would like to report on our progress in implementing the Durban Declaration and Program of Action. But I am deeply disturbed by the turn this event is taking. The way in which the preparatory process for this review conference has been proceeding suggests that it is unlikely to be a useful exercise, a meeting that will really assist in reaching our shared objective: abolishing racism. I therefore fully understand why some countries have decided not to participate in these proceedings any longer. For the Netherlands, too, the draft outcome document is not acceptable in its present form. It does not focus on the main challenges to address the problem of racism. Instead, the thematic world conference is used by some to try to force their concept of defamation of religion and their focus on one regional conflict on all of us. To all the delegates who doubt the Netherlands’ intentions, I say this: we do want to participate and work together on a useful outcome — but not at any price. We cannot accept any text, which would: (1) Put religion above individuals; (2) Not condemn discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; (3) Condone anti-Semitism; (4) Or single out Israel. These are clear red lines for the Netherlands. That is certainly not what I have in mind when I call for a more empathic approach.

Continue reading ‘Dutch FM Verhagen ‘deeply disturbed’ by Durban II’

Despite U.S. engagement, U.N.’s Durban II racism conference says no way to gay rights

Despite America’s decision this week to join the negotiations and extend an outretched hand to the U.N. planners of the Durban II conference on racism, their response so far to President Obama is continued intolerance, underscored today by their shooting down a provision on discrimination against gays, in a stormy debate.

The original proposal by Western states in the draft text (par. 69) was to condemn “all forms of discrimination and all other human rights violations based on sexual orientation.” Not so controversial, one would think, for a conference ostensibly about discrimination and intolerance.

Continue reading ‘Despite U.S. engagement, U.N.’s Durban II racism conference says no way to gay rights’

Why Durban II ignores the Declaration on Arab-Led Slavery of Africans

In 2003, in Johannesburg, South Africa, a conference on Arab-led slavery of Africans issued a declaration accusing Arab countries of:

  • “ethnocide of African people through forced cultural Arabization”;
  • “historical and continuing crimes committed against African boys subjected to forced castration (of which the survival rate has been one in ten), to create a eunuch class”;
  • “historical and continued taking into slavery of young girls to serve as slaves to their masters with no right to marriage unless prescribed by their masters”;
  • “genocide against Africans, particularly in the Sudan”;
  • “ethnocide of African people through forced cultural Arabization processes”; and
  • “incalculable damage on Africans and African society”, for which “apologies and reparations are due to Africans.”

It’s quite a damning indictment, on an issue many in U.N. circles would prefer to ignore.

With this in mind, the latest draft of the Durban II declaration includes a European-sponsored proposal on the “need to similarly address the trans-Saharan slave trade and the slave trade in the Indian Ocean.”

However, the proposal is bracketed — which means it’s under dispute. Why would anyone challenge the historical fact of the Arab trade in African slaves?

Because the Durban conference of 2001, contrary to its stated purpose, was never organized to objectively examining racism around the world. Its true purpose was someting else entirely. The exercise was initiated by African regimes to raise blame Western racism as the original and remaining cause of Africa’s ills. In other words, Robert Mugabe’s abuses are not the cause of Zimbabweans’ misery, but rather imperialist Britain or capitalist America.

Not that there weren’t several legitimate historical grievances included in the mix, but the point is that the purpose was always to point the finger at a very specific target, rather than to objectively address victims of discrimination and intolerance in all continents and countries. Far from it. 

With anti-Western rulers exercising a controlling majority of the U.N., any other narrative on this issue — which might diminish or add nuance to the grievance premised on exclusively Western culpability — is excluded.

On this particular issue — as on others — Durban II is and will be the same. The bracketed provisions in the draft text hinting to the Islamic slave trade were proposed by European states, but will never survive the negotiation process. They’ll be nixed under forceful objections from Third World states, especially the mighty Arab and Islamic blocs.

What is worse, the issue of the Arab slave trade is virtually ignored by most NGOs involved in the Durban process. Such activists generally hold a strongly Tier Mondiste worldview, which similarly explains poverty and other world problems by pointing to the West as a rapacious exploiter of the Third World — essentially the modern leftist’s adapation of the imperialist notion of the noble savage. This worldview is threatened by any narrative involving a perpetrator that is non-Western.

Will any expert on Arab slavery be seen in Geneva during the week of the Durban II conference, to put a spotlight on this buried history? Don’t bet on it.

U.N.’s Durban II committee censors filming in bid to enact censorship

The Russian-chaired U.N. committee in Geneva that is drafting the Durban II declaration today barred noted French author Caroline Fourest and her Arte news crew from filming a debate where Pakistan, Iran, and other countries urged the enactment of international curbs on free speech in the name of Islamic sensitivities. Germany protested and the matter will be further considered.

U.N. launches website to spin Durban II, asks for more funds

New Website

 The UN today launched its new website on the Durban Review Conference (“Durban II”), in a festive atmosphere, with sandwiches and drinks, following a meeting of the Libyan-chaired Bureau, which oversees planning for the April conference. It was attended mostly by government representatives with few NGOs present.

The meeting was chaired by Ibrahim Salama, who now heads the Human Rights Treaties branch of the OHCHR, and is the official who lead the efforts of the UN Secretariat on Durban II. Mr. Salama was ambassador of Egypt to Portugal, member of the UN Sub-Commission for Human Rights, chair of the Working Group on the Rights to Development and African coordinator at Durban I. (for a more detailed background:  http://www.faithinhumanrights.org/read/36/dr_ibrahim_salama)

UN Secretariat Planning  for Durban II

Mr. Salama delivered a broad overview of the efforts of the Secretariat so far on Durban II issues:

1) Activities in public information
2) Financial Situation
3) Contribution by the High Commissioner
4) Program of Activities during Durban II
5) NGO participation

On public information, Mr. Salama presented the following activities: a new website launched on that day (available at www.un.org/durbanreview2009, to be also available for Durban II follow-up purposes), a newsletter distributed to all those present, an electronic bulletin and a poster (see above). With all these initiatives, Mr. Salama argued that “only facts can defeat fears.” Another colleague presented the different features of the website, which is directed to a “very broad audience.”

Russia Biggest Funder of Durban II; Palestinians Have Money for UN Resolutions

Russia commented that they were happy to see the results of their ($600,000) contribution. Senegal asked whether any outreach to the private sector or political bodies was envisioned.

Mr. Salama thanked Russia for their financial contribution and commented “This was the good news; the bad news is about the financial situation.” He went on to explain the finances of Durban II. He said that the OHCHR is “extremely committed” to the conference and it is a priority. The problem is the lack of funds. The initial cost estimate was $740,000. The OHCHR has been requested to absorb it from its regular budget. This amount covers the April 20-24 conference itself (conference services, translation, rooms, etc). But, he argued, there are many more costs not included: information, outreach, empowerment and participation of NGOs, website, support for LDCs (Least Developed Countries). If the states ask the OHCHR to “convince, outreach, empower”, then they need to provide extra-budgetary resources.

The amount left over from Durban I, together with the voluntary contributions, so far amounts to $1.4 million, with about half from each source. They have already spent $500,000 for staffing and missions. This bring the total cost to $1.9 million, which means that they have a deficit of $1 million. Mr. Salama asked for more contributions and made the following points: (i) they are doing their best with limited resources, (ii) this deficit will have a negative effect on other activities of the OHCHR, (iii) more demands by states in resolutions will lead to less optimal results overall.

Answering a question by UN Watch, Mr. Salama provided a breakdown of the voluntary contributions so far:

Russia:       $600,000
China:         $20,000
Palestine:   $1,700
Indonesia:  $20,000 (pledged)
China:         $ 20,000 (pledged)
Morocco:    $ 22,000 (pledged)

Role of High Commissioner Navi Pillay 

On the issue of the contribution by High Commissioner Navi Pillay to Durban II, Mr. Salama said that the OHCHR was working on that report. They have established a cross-desk task force. Mr. Salama will be meeting with regional coordinators on their expectations. The High Commissioner has her views but wants to hear from others what they think. He invited all parties to contact him if interested.

As far as activities are concerned, Mr. Salama informed us that the OHCHR is in touch with other UN agencies and they work together on issues such as health, development, migration, children, all related to the fight against racism.

NGO Forum Not Ruled Out

Last, on NGO participation, Mr. Salama explained the different ways NGOs can be engaged: (a) OHCHR support through travel subsidies, (b) information/outreach (c) participation with side events and within the conference, and (d) informal contact and lobbying delegates. NGO participation is important because they represent the voices of the victims and can bring a meaningful contribution.

The desired parameters for the side-events are: (a) to promote a victim’s perspective, from grass-roots organizations, offer substance for the final outcome and have north/south balance; (b) events within the scope of the DDPA; (c) focus on implementation.

Ms. June Ray, head of the OHCHR Civil Society Unit, added that there is an OHCHR advisory unit, under the direction of the Deputy High Commissioner. They have drafted guidelines for NGO funding and have formed a committee to review applications. They have already supported NGOs to the regional meetings in Abuja and Brazilia and they have received more than 200 applications for support for April. They want to ensure geographical balance, victim group representation and a transparent process. They are open to meet and brief NGOs and they also want to hear about NGO plans.

At the discussion that followed, Mr. Jan Lonn (a leader of the far-left/anti-Israel coalition planning an “NGO Forum”) deplored the late launch of the outreach campaign and stressed the need to “respond to the negation from some corners.” They want to have a civil society forum, which is an important part in NGO mobilization. There is strong support for it from all the regions, but they have problems of logistics and finance.

Mr. Salama said that their optimal objective is participation. They are sympathetic to the complaint about the lack of time. He concluded by saying “any proposal will be considered.”

U.N. rights agency caught altering Durban II document, in bid to downplay hateful proposals

The U.N. agency charged with organizing the upcoming Durban II racism conference has quietly altered the title of its “Draft Outcome Document” to read “Different sections of compilation of proposals,” in an apparent bid to downplay draft proposals that revive the hateful rhetoric that plagued the original Durban conference of 2001. See graphic demonstration below.

The move comes as part of an aggressive new public relations campaign by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that in recent days has started to lash out at governments, newspapers, and organizations that have sought to question the misuse of the principles and terminology of the anti-racism cause by Libya, Iran, and other repressive regimes.

In September the OHCHR made a thinly veiled attack on Jewish organizations, accusing unnamed “lobby groups” that were “focused on single issues” of launching “ferocious, and often distorted, criticism” of the Durban II event, slated for April 20-24, 2009 in Geneva. UN Watch immediately protested, and in a detailed letter urged spokesman Rupert Colville to retract the innuendo-laced statement. Yet he has refused to do so, much less reply. Subsequent requests made to senior OHCHR officials have gone ignored.

Click on image below to see original version of U.N. website with title, “Draft Outcome Document” (highlighted in green):

original_durban

Continue reading ‘U.N. rights agency caught altering Durban II document, in bid to downplay hateful proposals’

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.

              ____________________________________________________________

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.)  

Green Party Urges Geneva to Support Libyan-Led Campaign for Durban II “NGO Forum”

Geneva’s Green Party is urging the city council to lend support and resources for a Libyan-led campaign to hold a “NGO Forum” at the April 2009 Durban II conference. The same event in 2001 was condemned by UN officials and human rights organizations for its excesses, including anti-Western, anti-Israel, and anti-Semtic hatred. About Libya’s key role, using the GONGO “North South 21”, click here.

At an October meeting of NGOs in Geneva, Anne Moratti Jung, a member of the Geneva city council for the Green party, discussed the motion that she co-sponsored with her colleagues Marguerite Contat Hickel, Frédérique Perler-Isaaz, Sandrine Burger, Sophie de Weck Haddad, Claudia Heberlein Simonett, Marie-Pierre Theubet, MM. Alpha Dramé, and Yves de Matteis, Miguel Limpo, Eric Rossiaud et Gilles Garazi.

The Green Party motion claims that the April 2009 conference will be an “opportunity for the City at the conference to promote the mission of international Geneva and to strengthen relations with international organizations, the UN and NGOs.”With this motion, the Greens want the City Council to invite the Administrative Council to:

  • “Participate actively in the preparations for the Durban II conference”;
  • “Organize one or more demonstrations enabling residents to Geneva and delegates to the conference to discuss the issue of racism and issues related thereto”;
  • “Support the participation of associations, including those against racism, in the organization of this event”; and
  • “Implement any other measure for the success of this conference and in particular to provide the necessary budget to achieve its goals.”

According to a press release (also featured below) by CICAD, the leading Geneva anti-defamation group, “Such motion, if accepted, would see a repeat of the 2001 scenario. This position of the Greens is irresponsible, and encourages the City of Geneva to support a forum whose outcome is already known. CICAD is convinced that our politicians will be mobilized to deny such a motion.” 

Despite Green Party support for the Libyan-sponsored campaign for a “NGO Forum”, a majority of Geneva parties are said to be oppposed. The motion was first tabled in June but has been repeatedly postponed for procedural reasons.

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CICAD PRESS RELEASE, November 2, 2008

Genève, le 2 novembre 2008

COMMUNIQUE

Durban II / Genève I
Motion des Verts genevois ou la promesse d’un retour aux débordements antisémites de Durban en 2001

La perspective d’un nouveau Forum des ONG lors de la conférence de Durban II ou Genève I reste une source importante d’inquiétude. Les mêmes acteurs que ceux qui s’étaient illustrés en 2001 entendent être présents ; un nouveau Forum des ONG peut dès lors nous faire craindre le pire.

À Durban, en 2001, une littérature haineuse distribuée par des ONG, dont nombre se définissant comme engagées en faveur des droits de l’homme et contre le racisme, n’a pas répugné à représenter les Juifs avec les crocs dégoulinant de sang et coiffés de casques arborant des croix gammées. L’un des exemples les plus saisissants de cette orgie de haine est probablement une brochure présentée au Centre d’exposition de Durban, montrant un portrait d’Adolf Hitler avec en légende : «Si j’avais gagné la guerre, il n’y aurait plus de… sang palestinien versé. »

La CICAD a récemment pris connaissance d’une motion déposée par les conseillers municipaux Verts genevois, invitant la Ville de Genève à financer et organiser un forum des ONG. La tenue d’un tel Forum, nous pousse à l’inquiétude et nécessite notre mobilisation.

Selon les Verts, la conférence d’avril 2009 sera une « occasion offerte à la Ville, par la tenue de cette conférence, de promouvoir la mission de la Genève internationale et de renforcer les relations avec les organisations internationales, onusiennes et les organisations non gouvernementales ».

Avec cette motion, les Verts souhaitent que le Conseil municipal invite le Conseil administratif notamment à :
–  participer activement à la préparation de la conférence Durban II;
– organiser une ou des manifestations permettant aux habitants de Genève et aux délégués à cette conférence d’échanger sur la problématique du racisme et les enjeux qui y ont trait;
– favoriser la participation des associations, notamment celles de lutte contre le racisme, à l’organisation de cet événement;
– mettre en œuvre toute autre mesure utile au succès de cette conférence et en particulier à prévoir le budget nécessaire à la réalisation des objectifs.

Une telle motion, si elle était acceptée, risquerait de voir se renouveler le scénario de 2001. Cette prise de position des Verts est irresponsable ; encourageant la Ville de Genève à apporter son soutien à un forum dont l’issue est déjà connue.

La CICAD est persuadée que nos responsables politiques sauront se mobiliser pour refuser une telle motion.

Contacts presse :
Johanne Gurfinkiel, Secrétaire général

____________________________

TEXT OF GENEVA GREEN PARTY MOTION

Motion du 24 juin 2008 de Mmes Marguerite Contat Hickel, Anne Moratti Jung, Frédérique Perler-Isaaz, Sandrine Burger, Sophie de Weck Haddad, Claudia Heberlein Simonett, Marie-Pierre Theubet, MM. Alpha Dramé, Yves de Matteis, Miguel Limpo, Eric Rossiaud et Gilles Garazi: «Durban II et Genève».

PROJET DE MOTION  M-815

Considérant:
– la conférence Durban II qui aura lieu à Genève du 20 au 24 avril 2009;
– que cette conférence traitera du suivi de la «Conférence mondiale contre le racisme, la discrimination raciale, la xénophobie et l’intolérance», qui a eu lieu à Durban du 2 au 9 septembre 2001;
– l’importance de cet événement tant sur le plan de la défense des droits humains en général que sur le plan de la lutte contre le racisme;
– l’importance d’une participation de la Ville de Genève comme lieu de dialogue entre les diverses communautés;
– l’occasion offerte à la Ville, par la tenue de cette conférence, de promouvoir la mission de la Genève internationale et de renforcer les relations avec les organisations internationales, onusiennes et les organisations non gouvernementales, le Conseil municipal invite le Conseil administratif:
– à participer activement à la préparation de la conférence Durban II;
– à organiser une ou des manifestations permettant aux habitants de Genève et aux délégués à cette conférence d’échanger sur la problématique du racisme et les enjeux qui y ont trait;
– à favoriser la participation des associations, notamment celles de lutte contre le racisme, à l’organisation de cet événement;
– à mettre en oeuvre toute autre mesure utile au succès de cette conférence et en particulier à prévoir le budget nécessaire à la réalisation des objectifs.

* * *

Postcript: After UN Watch’s report, and the CICAD press release, the Green Party, to their credit, withdrew their motion. We look forward to working with them to promote real human rights, for women, gays, and other victims of discrimination.

Durban Deception: Libyans Using Front Organization to Subvert NGO Movement

That Libya chairs the Durban II “anti-racism” process, which culminates in the April 20-24, 2009 Durban Review Conference in Geneva, is bad enough. Far more dangerous, however, is Libya’s hidden campaign to subvert the NGO (non-governmental organization) movement, using a Libyan front-organization to instigate an innocent-sounding campaign for a “NGO Forum.”

On its face, nothing could be more desirable for a human rights conference than to have a broad gathering of non-governmental organizations, to allow the world’s unheard voices to speak.  NGOs are often the backbone of whatever positive comes out of the UN human rights system. Which is exactly why repressive regimes often try to stifle them.

Tragically, however, the repressive regimes are even more clever than that. Instead of waging only open battle against the NGO movement, which enjoys a powerful aura of respect in the media and other influential circles, the anti-democratic countries long ago realized that, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

Over the years, they created “GONGOs”, groups that are NGOs in name — with UN accreditation that allows official participation at world conferences — but that are in fact “Government-Operated NGOs.” Cuba, China, and Sudan all have their GONGOs, state-funded and controlled, who show up at UN conferences to spout the respective party lines and deny human rights violations and atrocities.

The objective is for diplomats, non-governmental delegates, and the broader world to believe that the regimes’ propaganda is the legitimate view of idealistic activist groups that represent the people. These groups obviously fail to meet the official UN criteria for NGOs, but get a pass from the highly politicized accreditation process.

This is exactly what is happening now in the preparation for Durban II. One of the groups lobbying hardest for the April conference to feature another “NGO Forum” — just like the event in 2001 that degenerated into an anti-Western, anti-Israel and anti-Semtic hatefest, and which was condemned by the United Nations, Human Rights Watch and other leading NGOs — is the Geneva-based “North South 21” (known in French as “Nord Sud 21”), a Libyan GONGO. Another coalition member is EAFORD, an openly anti-Semitic group, also created in Libya, that, in a September 2008 statement to the UN, accused “Jews everywhere” of “allowing Israel to inflict [a Holocaust] on the Palestinian people.”

To spell it out: What we have here is a Libyan-led “NGO” campaign demanding a NGO Forum from the Libyan-led governmental committee planning the conference. Qaddafi has the whole world over a barrel. It’s the greatest scam since the invention of three card monte.

Click on http://nordsud21.ch/durban.htm to see North South 21’s dedicated webpage for promoting a repeat of the 2001 hatefest, all in the supposed name of the legitimate NGO movement. Joining it are a motley group of radical anti-Israel and anti-Western organization, knowing enablers, and naive fellow travelers in the anti-racism cause.

HOW LIBYAN REGIME CONTROLS GONGO “NORTH SOUTH 21”  

What do we know about North South 21?

 A series of publicly-available documents show how the Qaddafi regime created the organization in 1989, as part of the Geneva-based committee to award an annual “Moammar Qaddafi Prize for Human Rights.” Radical anti-Western activist Jean Ziegler played a founding role in the inter-linked organizations.

UN Watch detailed all of this in a major 1996 report here, as cooroborated by a front page story by Switzerland’s leading newspaper,  the Neue Zurcher Zeitung. Further details about the Libyans’ open acknowledgment of North South 21 being a part of the Qaddafi Prize organization can be found here. (Supplement to UN Watch’s June 20, 2006 Report, “Switzerland’s Nominee to the UN Human Rights Council and the Moammar Khaddafi Human Rights Prize”, containing excerpts from http://www.gaddafiprize.org/ that document Jean Ziegler’s role as a 1989 co-founder of the Khaddafi Prize and its 2002 winner, and confirming the Khaddafi Prize organization’s control over North-South XXI and the North-South Institute, of which Jean Ziegler is vice-president.According to the Libyan press agency, the organization in Geneva that awards the Khaddafi Prize is an entity called North-South XXI (or Nord-Sud XXI). See “President Chavez of Venezuela wins International Gaddafi Award for Human Rights,” Libyan Jamahiriya Broadcasting Corporation, December 10, 2004, at http://en.ljbc.net/online/news_details.php?id=475 (see Attachment 7 here); “Oxymoron,” Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 15 Oktober 2004 (citing Libyan press agency Jana as saying the Prize is awarded by an International People’s Committee and Nord-Sud XXI) (see Attachment 8 here).  

The British press has also reported North-South XXI’s role in awarding the Prize. See “Gaddafi human rights prize for two dock strike wives,” The Daily Mail (London), September 4, 1997 (stating that Prize “[r]ecipients are chosen annually by a Geneva-based organisation called Nord-Sud 21.”) (see Attachment 9 here).

Even Geneva’s left-wing daily Le Temps, which is generally avoids criticizing Geneva’s UN industry, said this about North South 21, in an August 30, 2002 article:

The Kadhafi Prize [for Human Rights] is managed in Geneva by North-South 21, which claims to be an organization for the defense of human rights. . . . It is worth noting that North-South 21 does not want to mention the financial investment of Tripoli in the Geneva center. The organization issues many periodicals and other publications but none mentions the name of the provider of funds.  (Le Prix Kadhafi est géré à Genève par Nord-Sud 21 qui se veut une organisation de défense des droits de l’homme… Force est de constater que Nord-Sud 21 ne veut pas évoquer l’investissement financier de Tripoli dans le centre genevois. L’organisation dispose de plusieurs périodiques et autre publications à thème mais aucun ne mentionne le nom du bailleur de fonds.)

See “Un deuxième spectacle autour du Prix Kadhafi,” Le Temps, 30 août 2000 (see Attachment 10 here).  See also “Les Noirs demandent réparation pour l’esclavage,” Le Temps, 7 août 2001 (describing North-South XXI as “an NGO installed in Geneva and tied to Libya” and discussing a symposium “ordered and financed by Libya through North-South XXI.”) (see Attachment 11 here).

While all of the facts are out there, Geneva UN circles tend to pretend that North South 21 is a legitimate group instead of a Libyan GONGO.

FURTHER DETAILS CONNECTING LIBYA, NORTH SOUTH 21, AND JEAN ZIEGLER

A past winner also has attributed the Prize to North-South XXI.  See Website of Union interafricaine des Droits de l’Homme (UIDH), at http://www.iuhr.org/article.php3?&id_article=105 (noting that it won the Khaddafi Prize at the “proposal of the NGO North-South XXI.”).  Indeed, in a posting on the Human Rights Internet website, UIDH used the fact that the Khaddafi Prize is granted by a northern NGO, based in Geneva with ECOSOC status, to argue against those who criticized it for accepting Libyan money.  See http://www.hri.ca/partners/uidh/persp/budget.html (describing how, after UIDH won the Prize, many of its partner institutions stopped funding it because of the Libya affiliation, and arguing that this was incorrect in light of the Prize being awarded by a Northern, Geneva-based, UN-accredited NGO).

Like the Khaddafi Prize, North-South XXI was founded in 1989. In addition to awarding the Prize, North-South XXI organizes seminars and colloquia (many of which have been held in Tripoli) and issues a periodic journal of the same name. North-South XXI has special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which allows it to participate at UN sessions. It has argued before UN bodies against the international sanctions on Libya, without ever disclosing its connections to the Khaddafi regime. See Written Statement of North-South XXI to the Commission on Human Rights, 55th Session (E/CN.4/1999/NGO/40) (arguing against sanctions in general and against the sanctions on Libya in particular); Written Statement of North-South XXI to the Commission on Human Rights, 54th Session (E/CN.4/1998/NGO/83) (arguing that sanctions against Libya violate children’s rights).

North-South XXI is located in Geneva at rue Ferdinand-Hodler, number 17. Its director is Ahmad Soueissi, and its chairman is Ahmed Ben Bella. Mr. Ben Bella and Mr. Soueissi are also chairman and secretary, respectively, of a similarly-named organization at the same address: the Institut Nord-Sud pour le dialogue intercultural. The vice-chairman of the Institut Nord-Sud, according to official records of the canton of Geneva, is Jean Ziegler.  See Entry for Institut Nord-Sud pour le dialogue interculturel, Registre du commerce de Genève, at http://rc.geneve.ch/rc/consultation/consultationcomplete.asp?no_dossier_fed=CH-660-1684998-3 (see Attachment 14 here).

Several websites identify the Institut as the source of the North-South XXI journal, and one describes it as “presided over by Jean Ziegler.” See “Le Monde Diplomatique, Revues,” at http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/revues/nordsud; Philippe Corcuff, Liste des publications, at http://www.cerlis.fr/pagesperso/permanents/corcuffphilippepubli.htm (listing one article as follows: “Avec Éric Doidy et Domar Idrissi, “S’émanciper des langues de bois : originalité du langage zapatiste”, dans Club Merleau-Ponty, La pensée confisquée – Quinze idées reçues qui bloquent le débat public, 1997, Paris : La Découverte; réédité en 2001, Nord-Sud XXI (Institut Nord-Sud pour le dialogue interculturel, Genève), n°16 (4)”).

The Institut Nord-Sud is managed and financed by the Fondation Nord-Sud pour le dialogue interculturel. See Entry for Fondation Nord Sud pour le dialogue interculturel, Registre du commerce de Genève, at http://rc.geneve.ch/rc/consultation/consultationcomplete.asp?no_dossier_fed=CH-660-1881999-1 (see Attachment 15 here).

The Fondation have the same street address as North-South XXI and the Institut. The Fondation’s address in the Geneva registry of commerce is in care of a Geneva fiduciary society.  However, an entity called the Nord-Sud Fondation, http://www.nordsud-dialogue.org/, is also found at rue Ferdinand-Hodler 17, and has the same phone number, fax number, email address, and director as North-South XXI (see Attachment 16 here).

The officers of the Fondation are the same as of the Institute: Mr. Ben Bella, chairman; Mr. Ziegler, vice-chairman; and Mr. Soueissi, secretary. See also Entry for Fondation Nord Sud pour le dialogue interculturel, Registre du commerce de Genève, at at http://rc.geneve.ch/rc/consultation/consultationcomplete.asp?no_dossier_fed=CH-660-1881999-1 (see Attachment 15 here).�

UN Watch Report: “Shattering the Red Lines: The Durban II Draft Declaration”

[la version française suit]

Click here for new report: “Shattering the Red Lines”

SUMMARY

The dominant thesis of the 88-page Durban II draft declaration (“Draft Outcome Document”)[1] is that the U.S., Western Europe, Israel, and other liberal democracies — their principles, institutions, policies, respective histories and national identities — are singularly racist, and, in addition, discriminatory against Islam. Free speech, wealth, globalization, security measures to combat anti-Western terrorism — all of these are attacked as causes of racism, discrimination, and the “defamation of Islam.” Indeed, the new language seeking to distort human rights law for the purposes of Islamic censorship makes the Durban II draft even worse than the 2001 text.

In particular, the draft — compiled by a committee that includes Libya as chair, and Iran, Pakistan, and Cuba as vice-chairs — focuses on one specific country, Israel, which it portrays as the enemy of humanity, using language lifted verbatim from the notorious 2001 Tehran Declaration.

This report examines a small selection of the 646 provisions of the Durban II draft declaration, highlighting several that breach the European Union’s red lines. As set forth by France on behalf of the EU, in a 19 September 2008 statement to the UN Human Rights Council, the EU red lines reject (1) singling out one region of the world in particular; (2) reopening the 2001 Durban declaration by inserting a prohibition against “defamation of religion,” designed to restrict free speech and impose the censorship of Islamic anti-blasphemy laws; (3) drawing up an order of priority among victims; and (4) politicizing or polarizing the discussion.

Earlier this year, French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged — “without ambiguity” — to withdraw the EU from the Durban II process if the 2001 excesses repeated themselves and the EU’s concerns were ignored. Sarkozy also set forth a timeline in which France would act on its pledge, saying the decision would be made while France chaired the EU “in the final months preceding the review conference.” With France’s presidency concluding on December 31, 2008, that means now.

Click here for new report: “Shattering the Red Lines”

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cliquez ici pour nouveau rapport: “Violation des lignes rouges”

Résumé

La thèse dominante présentée dans les 88 pages de l’avant-projet de la déclaration de Durban II (« Draft Outcome Document »)* est que les Etats-Unis, l’Europe de l’Ouest, Israël et d’autres démocraties libérales que ce soit leurs principes, leurs institutions, leurs politiques, leurs identités tant nationales qu’historiques, sont singulièrement racistes et en plus discriminatoires envers l’Islam. La liberté d’expression, la richesse, la globalisation, les mesures de sécurité pour combattre le terrorisme antioccidental sont pointées du doigt comme des causes de racisme, de discrimination et de « diffamation de l’Islam ».

En particulier, cette ébauche, compilée par un comité qui inclut des pays comme la Lybie en tant que présidente, l’Iran, le Pakistan et Cuba en tant que vice-présidents, ne s’intéresse qu’à un pays spécifique, Israël, qui est présenté comme l’ennemie de l’humanité, utilisant un langage repris de la célèbre déclaration de Téhéran de 2001.

Le tableau ci-dessous examine une petite sélection des 646 dispositions de l’avant-projet de la déclaration de Durban II, mettant en avant certains points qui rompent les lignes rouges européennes. Comme présentées par la France au nom de l’UE, lors d’une déclaration le 19 septembre 2008 dans le cadre du Conseil des Droits de l’Homme, les lignes rouges de l’UE rejettent (1) la singularisation d’une région du monde en particulier ; (2) la réouverture de la déclaration de Durban de 2001 en insérant une interdiction de « diffamer la religion », dans le but de restreindre la liberté d’expression et d’imposer une censure par les lois islamiques contre le blasphème ; (3) l’établissement d’une hiérarchie des victimes et (4) la politisation ou la polarisation de la discussion.

Plutôt cette année, le président français Nicolas Sarkozy s’est engagé à retirer l’Union Européenne de Durban II si les excès de 2001 se répétaient et si les intérêts de l’UE étaient ignorés. Sa présidence sur l’UE et sa capacité à honorer sa promesse se terminera le 31 décembre 2008.

cliquez ici pour nouveau rapport : “Violation des lignes rouges”


[1] Draft Outcome Document for the Durban Review Conference 2009, as published on the United Nations website, Second Substantive Session (6 to 17 October 2008), http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/racism/DurbanReview/session2-documentation.htm
(last accessed on Oct. 22, 2008).

Durban myth debunked: 2001 NGO Forum was “integral part” of main conference

As of late, defenders of the 2001 Durban debacle, from UN officials to activists in the U.S., have been trying to cleanse the world conference and its texts by rewriting history to allocate all of the blame, and isolating the stigma, to the NGO Forum, claiming it had no connection to the governmental conference.

In fact, in 2001, the UN had said the exact opposite. “I regard this Forum as an integral part of the World Conference,” said UN High Commissioner Mary Robinson in her August 28, 2001 address to a stadium of assembled activists. In particular, she noted how the NGO Forum “played a critical role in shaping the draft programme of action” adopted by the governments.

Leading International Voices on the 2001 Durban NGO Forum

With a Libyan-backed group of fringe organizations now lobbying the UN and the City of Geneva to help them hold a so-called “NGO forum” during the April 2009 Durban Review Conference (“Durban II”), it’s worth recalling why so many fear a repeat of the nightmare that was the 2001 NGO Forum.

Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson:

[T]he atmosphere of anti-Semitism at the NGO Forum was described as ‘hateful, even racist’ by former High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson. Source: U.S. House of Representatives Resolution 1361 EH, Sept. 23, 2008

I had urged the NGOs not to adopt it. But the process was democratic and they went ahead and adopted it. But I also have a democratic right to reject that declaration dealing with Israel. . .  I think the NGO Forum, by including that text on Israel, have diminished the chances of it being adopted by the conference. I don’t think it can be adopted. Source: “Israel branded ‘racist’ by rights forum,” CNN, Sept. 2, 2001.

[A]fter [an activist] showed Robinson the booklet, she stood up, waved it and said, ‘This conference is aimed at achieving human dignity. My husband is a cartoonist, I love political cartoons, but when I see the racism in this cartoon booklet, of the Arab Lawyers’ Union, I must say that I am a Jew – for those victims are hurting. I know that you people will not understand easily, but you are my friends, so I tell you that I am a Jew, and I will not accept this fractiousness to torpedo the conference.’ Source: Robinson in Durban: I am a Jew,” The Jerusalem Post, Aug. 30, 2001.

 

South African Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad:

The South African government has condemned the anti-Semitism at the nongovernmental conference against racism held in Durban last August. Referring to the “disgraceful events,” Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Aziz Pahad said the conference was hijacked and turned into an anti-Semitic event. Source: “South Africa decries anti-Semitism at Durban Racism Conference,” Human Rights Education Association, 2002.

Human Rights Watch:

Human Rights Watch. . . calls on all participants to avoid a repeat of the conduct that so marred the 2001 conference. In particular, the NGO forum at the Durban Conference undermined the wider process when the forum’s concluding statement singled out one country, Israel, as the target of exaggerated and unsupportable allegations and when certain forum participants made anti-Semitic statements and expressed anti-Semitic sentiments that targeted, among others, individuals participating in the conference. Source: Human Rights Watch, “Position Paper: Second Preparatory Committee for the Durban Review Conference,” April 21, 2008.

Amnesty International:

Amnesty International “joined Jewish and Israeli leaders in warning that a forthcoming UN conference against racism could degenerate into an assault on Israel, Zionism, and the significance of the Holocaust.” Regrettably, we were not able to head off the ugly incidents that in fact did take place. Source: Joshua Rubenstein, Northeast Regional Director, Amnesty International USA, Letter to Boston Jewish Advocate, Dec. 27, 2007.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy:

Vous avez parlé de la conférence de Durban. Je vais vous le dire : la conférence de Durban en 2001 a donné lieu à des débordements intolérables de la part de certains Etats et de nombreuses organisations non gouvernementales qui ont fait de cette conférence une tribune contre l’Etat d’Israël. Personne n’a oublié. Une conférence de suivi est prévue pour 2009. Monsieur le Président, vous m’avez interpellé. Je vous répondrai très franchement. La France n’acceptera pas que les dérives et les outrances de 2001 se répètent. Nos partenaires européens partagent les inquiétudes de la France. Celle-ci présidera l’Union européenne dans les derniers mois précédant la conférence de suivi. Je vous le dis, nous saurons nous désengager du processus si nos exigences légitimes ne sont pas prises en compte. J’estime que ma réponse est sans ambigüité.

Translation:  

You have spoken about the Durban conference. I will tell you: The Durban conference in 2001 led to intolerable excesses from certain states and numerous NGOs that turned the conference into a forum against Israel. No one has forgotten. A follow-up conference is planned for 2009. Mr. President [of the CRIF], you asked me a question. I will answer very frankly. France will not allow a repetition of the excesses and abuses of 2001. Our European partners share France’s concerns. France will chair the EU in the final months preceding the review conference.  I say to you:  if ever our legitimate demands are not taken into account, we will disengage from the process. I believe my response is without ambiguity. Source: Discours de Nicolas Sarkozy au diner annuel du crif le 13 fevrier 2008.

Canadian Secretary of State for Multiculturalism Jason Kenney:

[The Durban conference] turned into a bit of a circus for intolerance and bigotry, particularly but not exclusively directed at the Jewish people. . .  Hitler posters [were displayed] by NGOs that have been re-invited by the organizing committee now chaired by Libya. Source: “Canada pulls support for UN anti-racism conference,” CTV News, Jan. 23, 2008.

U.S. House of Representatives

[T]he NGO Forum produced a document called the ‘NGO Declaration’  that contained abusive language, branding Israel an ‘apartheid state’ that is guilty of ‘racist crimes against humanity’. . .  the atmosphere of anti-Semitism at the NGO Forum was described as ‘hateful, even racist’ by former High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson and as ‘disgraceful’ by Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad, of South Africa, who also stated that parts of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism were ‘hijacked and used by some with an anti-Israeli agenda to turn it into an anti-Semitic event’…”  Source: U.S. House of Representatives Resolution 1361, Sept. 23, 2008

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay:

Seven years ago at the 2001 World Conference against Racism, the virulent anti-Semitic behaviour of a few non-governmental organizations on the sidelines of the Durban Conference overshadowed the critically important work of the Conference. Measures were taken to address this betrayal of the core principles of the Durban Conference, and the NGO document was not forwarded to the Conference.” Source: Address by Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Opening of the Durban 2nd Preparatory Committee, Oct. 6, 2008.

U.S. Representative Tom Lantos:

Another ring in the Durban circus was the NGO forum, taking place just outside the conference center. Although the NGO proceedings were intended to provide a platform for the wide range of civil society groups interested in the conference’s conciliatory mission, the forum quickly became stacked with Palestinian and fundamentalist Arab groups.

Each day, these groups organized anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic rallies around the meetings, attracting thousands. One flyer which was widely distributed showed a photograph of Hitler and the question “What if I had won?” The answer: “There would be NO Israel…” At a press conference held by Jewish NGO’s to discuss their concerns with the direction the conference was taking, an accredited NGO, the Arab Lawyers Union, distributed a booklet filled with anti-Semitic caricatures frighteningly like those seen in the Nazi hate literature printed in the 1930s. Jewish leaders and I who were in Durban were shocked at this blatant display of anti-Semitism.

For me, having experienced the horrors of the Holocaust first hand, this was the most sickening and unabashed display of hate for Jews I had seen since the Nazi period. Source: “The Durban debacle: An insider’s view of the world conference against racism,” Fletcher World Forum, Winter Spring 2002, at 46. The late Tom Lantos was founder of the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus and delegate to the 2001 Durban conference.

UN Expert Gay McDougall

I join with Congressman Lantos and other critics who rightly condemn the anti-Semitism that some groups brought to events and activities surrounding the Non-Governmental Forum (NGO Forum). In some places, there was an atmosphere of intimidation and hate against Jewish people. There were cartoons and posters that were hurtful and inappropriate. Additionally, the final NGO document contained language relating to Israel that was inflammatory. In fact, portions of the document proposed by the Jewish caucus were defeated in a process that was intimidating and undemocratic.” Source: “The world conference against racism: through a wider lens,” Fletcher World Forum, Summer/Fall 2002, at 136.  

Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) Delegate to NGO Forum Jerry V. Leaphart:

[T]he NGO Forum document contained language that was fairly criticized as anti-Semitic. Source: “The World Conference against Racism: What was really achieved?” Fletcher World Forum, Summer/Fall 2002, at 154.

Joint Coalition of 94 NGOs, including International League for Human Rights,
Human Rights First, ENAR – European Network Against Racism, UNITED for Intercultural Action – European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants and refugees, The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (USA), SOVA Center for Information and Analysis (Russian Federation), Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (USA), ILGA-Europe, International Lesbian and Gay Association, CCDN – Celebrating Cultural Diversity Network (UK), CRARR – Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (Canada), Observatorio sobre Conflictos Etnicos en la Argentina – OSCEA, CAERS – The Canadian Anti-racism Education and Research Society, Citizens’ Watch (Russia), AFRICAN UNION Social organization of St. Petersburg (Russia), Asian American Justice Center, Freedom House (USA), Human Rights Without Frontiers International, Roma Virtual Network (RVN), The Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights (Kyrgyz Republic), Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly of Moldova, Defence for Children International (Czech section), Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Justice Office – SCP (Ireland), Physicians for Human Rights, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights (Sweden), The Bahá’í International Community, The Canadian Helsinki Watch Group, Conectas Direitos Humanos (Brazil):

Many civil society representatives were disappointed, when the [2001 Durban] NGO process, which raised the profile of important contemporary racism problems and the historic wounds of slavery and discrimination, was discredited. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson spoke out against what she called the “hateful, even racist” antisemitic atmosphere that plagued the NGO forum. She refused to commend it to governments for their consideration. Leading international human rights organizations called some of the human rights language in the declaration inaccurate, inappropriate and even counterproductive. They regretted that progress on vital issues such as discrimination against Roma and caste discrimination was thereby diminished. Observers were shocked by violations of procedure in the preparatory and drafting processes, the racist treatment including violence, exclusion, and intimidation against Jewish participants, and the misuse of human rights terminology in the document related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With a few notable exceptions, the vast majority of groups was silent or refused to speak out. In the years since, many have reflected that the result was a regrettable vacuum of moral leadership. Source: Civil society groups seek Durban Review that rejects hatred,” April 28, 2008

On the Durban Conference in General:

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell:

Today I have instructed our representatives at the World Conference Against Racism to return home. . . I know that you do not combat racism by conferences that produce declarations containing hateful language, some of which is a throwback to the days of ‘Zionism equals racism;’ or supports the idea that we have made too much of the Holocaust; or suggests that apartheid exists in Israel; or that singles out only one country in the world–Israel–for censure and abuse. Source: “World Conference against Racism,” U.S. Department of State, Sept. 3, 2001.

Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper

We have every reason to believe it [the 2009 Durban Review Conference] will be a repeat of Durban I. . . We will not be party to an anti-Semitic and anti-Western hatefest dressed up as an anti-racism conference. Source: PM calls UN conference an ‘anti-Western hatefest’“, National Post, Jun. 28, 2008.

UN Expert Gay McDougall

The Leadership Conference for Civil Rights Under Law, a coalition of more than 180 civil and human rights organizations in the United States, issued a press release on September 4, endorsed by all its members, that referred to the anti-Semitism in Durban as “repugnant and reprehensible” and noted, “We share the concerns of those who decry anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry.” Other NGO’s offered press statements of their own condemning the hateful language aimed at Israel and Jewish groups in the final NGO document. In addition, some NGO participants resigned from the NGO International Steering Committee in protest and, ultimately, 77 NGOs from 37 countries rejected the NGO document the night it was finalized because of references to Israel as an apartheid state. Source: “The world conference against racism: through a wider lens,” Fletcher World Forum, Summer/Fall 2002, at 136.  Source: “The world conference against racism: through a wider lens,” Fletcher World Forum, Summer/Fall 2002, at 136.  

Durban II Draft Revives 2001 Tehran Declaration

Durban II is heading toward another debacle. The draft declaration for the April 2009 conference on racism — as published by the United Nations during the 2nd preparatory session that concluded last Friday — revives the hateful rhetoric of the 2001 Tehran Declaration by accusing Israel of “genocide” and “a new kind of apartheid,” attacks free speech, declares that Islam and its adherents are the world’s greatest victims of racism and of “defamation of religion”, and lists counter-terrorism as a cause of racial discrimination.  The text shatters every one of the European Union’s red lines. See document and UN Watch analysis below.

Instead of condemning this betrayal of the principles of the United Nations charter, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told delegates she was “encouraged by the tone and by the substance of your deliberations over the last two weeks,” and praised “this kind of cooperation and constructive engagement.” She also lauded “the spirit of understanding, accommodation and respect that has characterized the review process thus far.”

In addition to the vitriolic provisions in the draft declaration, a motley group of anti-Western and anti-Israel organizations assembled on the sidelines of the preparatory session to demand that the final conference in April include a NGO Forum. At the meeting and in their letters to UN officials, the agitators falsely claimed to be operating in the name of the NGO Committee on Racism, a Geneva entity that has failed to hold long-overdue elections, meetings, or even consultations with its membership. Will the mainstream human rights movement resist this attempted hijacking?

One thing is clear: the prospect of another NGO Forum like that held in 2001 is cause for alarm. The atmosphere of anti-Semitism at that gathering was described as ‘‘hateful, even racist’’ by former High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, and as ‘‘disgraceful’’ by South African Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad, who said that parts of the Durban conference were “hijacked and used by some with an anti-Israeli agenda to turn it into an anti-Semitic event.”

Robinson, who served as secretary-general of the 2001 Durban conference, refused to accept the NGO Declaration, and some leading human rights organizations and activists criticized the repugnant anti-Semitism and demonization of Israel in the NGO Forum, and the harassment of Jewish participants it engendered.

Key documents on latest Durban II draft declaration:

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UN chief Ban Ki-moon and rights commissioner Pillay urged to denounce “vitriolic” Asian text accusing Israel of apartheid and genocide

Geneva, October 10, 2008 – To prevent the derailing of a world conference on racism, independent human rights group UN Watch today called on UN chief Ban Ki-moon and rights commissioner Navi Pillay to immediately denounce a submission by Asian states that accuses Israel of “racial practices” against Palestinians, “a new kind of apartheid, a crime against humanity, a form of genocide,” as well as “aggression, acts of racism, and intimidation.”  (See full text below.)

“The Asian submission for the Durban 2 declaration reproduces almost verbatim the vitriolic incitement and hateful rhetoric of demonization that was produced at the Tehran planning meeting at the 2001 lead-up to the original Durban debacle,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch.

“The poison was mostly removed from the final Durban declaration only after European states threatened to walk out, but was adopted by the non-governmental forum, in a text that High Commissioner Mary Robinson summarily refused to forward to the UN, and which was denounced again last week by High Commissioner Pillay as a betrayal of the anti-racism cause.”

“The key lesson learned from 2001 was that the UN’s highest officials cannot stay silent until the very end, but must act immediately to denounce the language of incitement and demonization as soon as it rears its ugly head,” said Neuer.

“The fingerprints of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who openly calls for the destruction of a UN member state, are all over this text, and all who want to safeguard the principles of human rights and the anti-racism cause must speak out forcefully, and fast,” said Neuer. 

“French President Sarkozy, the U.K. and the Netherlands expressly warned that a repeat of the 2001 hateful rhetoric would force them to walk out of the conference, and so the Asian states will bear full responsibility for the consequences of their provocation.”

See full text and selections below.

_____________

Full Asian text:  http://blog.unwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/asian-text-for-durban-ii.pdf
(CONTRIBUTION OF THE ASIAN REGION TO THE DURBAN REVIEW CONFERENCE, 8 OCT 2008 CONTRIBUTION OF THE ASIAN REGION TO THE DURBAN REVIEW CONFERENCE, 8 OCT 2008 )

Selections:

From preamble:

Recalling the 2001 Tehran Declaration and Programme of Action by the Asian Preparatory Meeting… [This text contained the most vitriolic language against Israel.]

From operative section:

18. Recognize Jerusalem as a city of reverence and religious sanctity for three major religions of the world and call for an international effort to bring foreign occupation, together with all its racial practices, to an end, especially in holy shrines dear to the three religions;

19. Reaffirm that a foreign occupation founded on settlements, its laws based on racial discrimination with the aim of continuing domination of the occupied territory, as well as its practices, which consist of reinforcing a total military blockade, isolating towns, cities and villages under occupation from each other, totally contradict the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and constitute a serious violation of international human rights and humanitarian law, a new kind of apartheid, a crime against humanity, a form of genocide and a serious threat to international peace and security;

26. Express deep concern at the plight of Palestinian refugees and displaced persons who were forced to leave their homes because of war and racial policies of the occupying power and who are prevented from returning to their homes and properties because of a racially based law of return, and recognize the right of return of the Palestinian refugees as established by the General Assembly in its resolutions, particularly resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948, and call for their return to their homeland in accordance with and in implementation of this right;

27. Re-emphasize the responsibility of the international community to provide international protection for the Palestinian people under occupation against aggression, acts of racism, intimidation and denial of fundamental human rights, including the rights to life, liberty and self-determination;

68. Express deep regret the practices of racial discrimination against the Palestinians as well as other inhabitants of the Arab occupied territories which have an impact on all aspects of their daily existence such as to prevent the enjoyment of fundamental rights, express our deep concern about this situation and renew the call for the cessation of all the practices of racial discrimination to which the Palestinians and the other inhabitants of the Arab territories occupied by Israel are subjected;

69. Reiterate that the Palestinian people continue to be denied the fundamental right of self determination and urge member States to look at the situation of Palestinian people during the Durban Review Conference and implement the provisions of DDPA with a view to bring lasting peace in the Middle East;

Durban mayor asked UN Rights chief Navi Pillay “to rescue name of Durban”

When Navi Pillay was appointed this summer as the UN’s new high commissioner for human rights, the mayor of Durban, South Africa, her native city, gave Pillay a bouquet of flowers and asked her “to rescue the name of Durban,” a word that has become associated with the discredited UN conference on racism held there in 2001.

Ms. Pillay told the story today to a packed audience of NGO activists attending the current session of the UN Human Rights Council, as she urged NGOs to fully engage with the follow-up Durban conference to be held in Geneva in April 2009, of which she is secretary-general. (Libya is chair, Iran and Cuba among the vice-chairs.) The representatives of Human Rights Watch and certain other groups responded that they intended to actively participate in the process.

Earlier this year, a group of 97 NGOs, including UN Watch, published a joint statement that expressed serious concerns with the hatred and anti-Semitism that tainted the 2001 Durban conference, urging participants at Durban II not to repeat the same sins.

Participating in the NGO session with Pillay, UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer publicly welcomed her to Geneva, and saluted her personal and professional advocacy for equality, noting her heroic struggle against apartheid. UN Watch founder Morris Abram was a pioneer advocate for the cause of civil rights and headed the United Negro College Fund.

Sri Lanka to Oversee Asian Declaration for UN Durban II Racism Conference

The UN originally intended to organize major regional meetings around the world in advance of the Durban Review Conference, set for April in Geneva. In the end, however, it seems there will be no Asian, West or East European conferences.

The UN had spoken of an Asian meeting in September in Bangkok but it seems that won’t happen. Instead, the Asian ambassadors in Geneva are reportedly preparing their own “outcome document” — see report below from Sri Lanka, which will facilitate drafting of the text– to feed into the final declaration in April. Such texts are called “outcome documents” for being the outcome of a particular conference. Yet now we will an outcome without there ever having been a conference.

Sounds odd, but in a way it’s more honest: the African declaration was all cooked up in Geneva beforehand, with the brief meeting in Abuja, mostly held behind closed doors, entirely dominated by Geneva-based diplomats and UN officials, who flew in to Nigeria merely to create the pretense of holding an African event.

If you thought the African text was bad — it failed to hold a single African country accountable for performance on racism, thereby failing the stated mission of the conference — the Asian one threatens to be worse. Recall that in 2001, after meeting in Tehran, the Asian outcome document singled out Israel for “ethnic cleansing” and of a “new kind of apartheid, a crime against humanity.”

___________________________________

News report from pro-government Sri Lankan newspaper: 

http://www.island.lk/2008/09/01/news3.html

Run-Up to UN Anti-Racism Conference

Upon recommendation by the Ambassador/Permanent Representative of China, the Asian Group Co-ordinator, the Asian Group of the United Nations Human Rights Council has appointed Sri Lanka’s Ambassador Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka as the facilitator to negotiate an outcome document of the Asian Region, as a contribution to the preparatory process of the Durban Review Conference.

The World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance was held in Durban, South Africa in 2001 and produced the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, which provided an important new framework for combating racism and intolerance with a wide range of action-oriented measures.

The Review Conference of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action has been scheduled to be held in Geneva, Switzerland from 20-24 April 2009 to evaluate progress towards the goals set by the 2001 World Conference. For this purpose Regional Groups are requested to contribute by providing inputs to the above Review Conference.

Against this backdrop Ambassador Jayatilleka has been appointed as Facilitator by the Asian Group to negotiate an outcome document of the Asian Region in order to provide inputs from the Asian Region to the above Review Conference.

Latin America and African Regions already had their Regional Meetings in Brasilia and Abuja respectively and have prepared their inputs to the above Review Conference.

Holocaust Survivor Simone Veil Urges Against Second Durban Debacle

Simone Veil 

Speaking before a United Nations audience, Simone Veil, Holocaust survivor and former president of the European Parliament, urged the international community to prevent a recurrence of the 2001 Durban debacle, where a world conference on racism became a hatefest for demonstrators attacking Israel and distributing leaflets praising Hitler.

In Geneva, we are now starting to look forward to the conference which will follow that of Durban in 2001. May I make an appeal? I would not like there to be the same form of overspill, the same events which occurred in the sidelines of Durban. I know that the international community would condemn that if it were to recur.

Veil’s comments were part of her keynote address to the UN’s annual conference of non-governmental organizations, held for the first time in Paris to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing there of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The declaration had been a reaction against the crimes of the World War II, said Veil. Still, many countries today committed such crimes, and flouted the most basic rights of their citizens. Non-governmental organizations had a vital role to play in defending human rights, even as many countries imposed restrictions on their work, said Veil.

UN Watch Addresses African Regional Meeting on Durban II, in Abuja, Nigeria

UN Watch Intervention
Regional Conference for Africa
Preparatory to the Durban Review Conference
Abuja, Nigeria
24 August 2008

Delivered by Mr. Leon Saltiel of UN Watch

 Thank you, Mr. President.

 We assemble here in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, in the heart of Africa, to discuss how to fight racism, and to prepare for the Durban Review Conference that will take place in April 2009.

 That I have come here from afar is testament to the great importance that UN Watch attaches to the African cause, to the global struggle against racism, and to the outcome of this gathering.

 Mr. President,

 UN Watch has always stood in solidarity with the African people in their struggle for human rights, equality and freedom.

 A half century ago, UN Watch founder Morris Abram was a leading advocate in the American civil rights movement led by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King. It was Mr. Abram who won the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case that recognized African-American voting rights, under the principle of “one person, one vote,” and who went on to head the United Negro College Fund.

 In 1993, guided by the same vision of human rights and equality, Morris Abram founded UN Watch.

 Since then, we have been a leading voice at the United Nations for victims of persecution—for Africans in places like Darfur and Zimbabwe, as for millions of other victims of racism and intolerance around the world.

Mr. President,

 It is with this legacy, and with these principles, that UN Watch urges this conference to rise to the occasion.

 Let this African gathering give voice to all who suffer from racism, persecution and intolerance.

 Let us promise that the crime of slavery shall never be forgotten. That men and women everywhere should be treated with basic dignity and equality.

 Let us be true to the universal principles of human rights that underlie the struggle against racism.

 Mr. President,

 We will only advance toward these goals if we stay on the true path—by avoiding dangerous diversions, and by remedying the wrongs of the past. We must prevent a recurrence of the foul actions of 2001, which paradoxically turned a conference on racism into a platform for racist hatred and anti-Semitism.

 Let us oppose the campaign by certain governments and lobby groups to distort the language of human rights for a narrow and extreme political agenda, which only distracts from and harms the African cause.

 Let us ensure that our outcome document—which will influence the final declaration of the April conference in Geneva—will neither single out nor demonize any country or people.

 Finally, let us keep this conference a serious one. Its credibility is at stake when countries preach one thing while blatantly practicing the very opposite.

 Consider, for example, the official submission of Libya that is before us today. The Libyan government speaks of racism against the African people and how it confronts, and I quote, “[a] new form of racism related to house helpers [and] (maids).”

 Yet just last month, when Mr. Hannibal Qaddafi was arrested in Geneva for the crime of beating his African maid and African house-helper,

 [At this point, Sudan interrupted with an objection, supported by Morocco and Algeria]

 Libya fully supported his actions. Worse, Libya then punished one of these African victims by kidnapping his mother. With this same country being the chair of the committee organizing the Durban Review Conference, what should the world think?

Mr. President,

The eyes of the world are upon us. When history is written, let it be recorded that in Abuja, in August 2008, the struggle against racism was advanced, and not harmed; promoted, and not politicized. We owe its victims—in Africa and around the world—no less.

Thank you, Mr. President.

France to Boycott Durban II If Hijacked, Warns Human Rights Minister Rama Yade

Rama Yade

Writing in reply to a parliamentary question, Rama Yade, France’s Senegalese-born Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Secretary, warned this week that France will walk out of the UN’s Durban II process if it veers off track.

“France will not maintain its participation at any price,” said Yade in her response published on August 5. “The President said at the dinner organized by CRIF, and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights herself said to the UN Human Rights Council: France will remain engaged in this process only if the review conference does not depart from its assigned objectives.”

French original follows below.

Source: http://recherche2.assemblee-nationale.fr/visualiser.jsp

_______________________________________
 
Question: M. Roland Blum appelle l’attention de Mme la secrétaire d’État chargée des affaires étrangères et des droits de l’homme sur la participation de la France à la conférence mondiale contre le racisme qui se tiendra à Durban en 2009, sous l’égide de l’ONU. En effet, lors de la précédente conférence qui s’est déroulée en septembre 2001, des États avaient rivalisé d’antisémitisme au point que des délégations avaient estimé devoir quitter la conférence, et la France avait menacé d’en faire de même. Or, la seconde conférence ne s’annonce pas sous de meilleurs auspices : la Libye a été élue à la présidence de cette conférence, et Cuba en occupe la vice-présidence, ces pays étant contestables en matière de démocratie et de respect des droits de l’Homme. Par ailleurs, l’Iran, dont son président appelle régulièrement à la destruction d’Israël, fait partie du comité d’organisation. Ainsi, le Canada en a déjà tiré les conséquences en annonçant son retrait. Il lui demande si le retrait de la France de cette conférence ne lui paraît pas également souhaitable.

Réponse de Rama Yade: La France, comme la quasi-totalité des membres de la communauté internationale, a accepté de se joindre au consensus pour l’adoption de la déclaration de Durban et de son plan d’action, à l’issue de la conférence mondiale sur le racisme en 2001. Avec ses partenaires européens, la France avait été particulièrement vigilante pour que ces textes demeurent équilibrés et acceptables.

En réalité, c’est à l’occasion du forum des ONG, en marge de la conférence, que des attaques très dures à l’encontre des États-Unis et d’Israël avaient amené ces pays à quitter la conférence de Durban. Ce forum des ONG s’était achevé par l’adoption d’une déclaration tout à fait inacceptable qui, fait exceptionnel dans ce genre de Conférence, n’avait pas été repris dans les documents finaux.

La déclaration de Durban porte sur les sources, causes, formes et manifestations du racisme, sur les victimes de ce fléau et sur les mesures à adopter dans les domaines de la prévention, de l’éducation et de la protection des victimes pour éliminer le racisme partout dans le monde. Elle est assortie d’un plan d’action qui souligne l’urgence de traduire les objectifs contenus dans la déclaration en actes concrets. Ces textes ont pu être critiqués par certains qui estiment qu’ils abordent de trop nombreux sujets, parfois de manière partiale et lacunaire. Il n’en reste pas moins qu’en élargissant la problématique du racisme aux discriminations sexuelles, aux droits des peuples autochtones, aux minorités, aux droits des migrants, à la dimension raciale de la traite des personnes, ces textes constituent des textes de référence pour lutter contre le racisme dans le cadre des Nations unies.

S’agissant de l’initiative des pays du sud de convoquer une conférence d’examen de la déclaration de Durban et de son plan d’action, il s’agit d’une pratique habituelle pour de nombreuses grandes déclarations adoptées dans le cadre des Nations unies (à titre d’exemple, une session spéciale de l’AGNU s’est tenue en 2000 pour faire le point sur la mise en oeuvre de la déclaration de Pékin adoptée à l’issue de la Conférence mondiale sur les femmes qui avait eu lieu dans cette ville en 1995).

Puisque la France s’était jointe au consensus, en 2001, pour l’adoption de cette déclaration de Durban, il lui revient aujourd’hui de respecter ses engagements internationaux en acceptant que soit examinée la façon dont elle a mis en oeuvre ce texte. Il en sera de même pour tous les pays participants à la conférence. La France et l’UE estiment que cette conférence d’examen doit lui permettre de plaider en faveur de l’application des normes internationales existantes de promotion et de protection des droits de l’homme, partout dans le monde, et en faveur de la mise en oeuvre des recommandations que les comités spécialisés de l’ONU dans le domaine des droits de l’homme formulent à l’attention de chacun des pays concernés.

À ce stade, il n’est pas envisagé que la France se retire du processus d’organisation de la conférence d’examen. En effet, la Conférence d’examen présente de réels risques de dérives : certains pays pourraient chercher à faire adopter des concepts que nous récusons comme celui de la « diffamation des religions » ou qui irait à l’encontre de l’universalité des droits de l’homme. De plus, l’organisation éventuelle d’un nouveau forum des ONG en marge de la conférence d’examen est sujet à préoccupation. Il reviendra donc aussi à toutes les ONG de défense des droits de l’homme d’être mobilisées à cette occasion.

C’est en restant présents, vigilants et inflexibles que la France et l’UE pourront faire valoir les principes fondamentaux des Nations Unies et mobiliser tous les pays pour lutter vraiment contre le racisme au niveau mondial. Toutefois, la France ne maintiendra pas sa participation à n’importe quel prix. Le Président de la République l’a déclaré lors du dîner organisé par le CRIF, et la secrétaire d’État chargée des affaires étrangères et des droits de l’homme l’a elle-même dit devant le conseil des droits de l’homme de l’ONU : la France restera engagée dans ce processus que si la réunion de suivi ne s’écarte pas des objectifs qui lui ont été assignés.

Durban II Debate: Islamic states want focus on “foreign occupation” and criticism of Islam

The Durban Review Conference, the UN’s world racism confab set for next April in Geneva, will be a highly visible, amply funded, well-advertised and attended gathering that will focus the world’s attention on the West’s defamation of Islam and racial discrimination against its adherents, as well as on Israel’s racist persecution of Palestinians. That was the goal expressed by Islamic states and their allies at a UN Human Rights Council debate this Tuesday.

See UN summary below.

Continue reading ‘Durban II Debate: Islamic states want focus on “foreign occupation” and criticism of Islam’

Draft Durban II Declaration Breaches Europe’s Red Lines

The first outline for the declaration to emerge from the 2009 Durban Review Conference breaches the red lines set forth by France, the UK, Netherlands and other EU governments, with special references to the Palestinians as victims of Israeli racism.

On May 27 in Geneva, the UN working group tasked with preparing the outcome document of the April 2009 conference circulated a “non-paper” — setting forth the “inventory of issues” to serve as the skeleton of the final declaration — that singles out Israel twice, raising the specter that the Jewish state will, like in 2001, stand specially accused of racism.

First, under the header “Victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,” the draft document’s list of “Victims Identified by the Study of Experts under the Inter-Governmental Working Group” makes a special reference to the Palestinians, with Israel by implication cast as a racist perpetrator.

The relevant paragraph:

People under foreign occupation: The protection of the civilian population under foreign occupation has been on the agenda of the international community for a long time. The history of armed conflicts shows that the particular vulnerability of this group is dramatically enhanced if it is connected to racial or ethnic distinction from the occupying power. The Durban Declaration expresses concern about the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation.

Second, under “contemporary forms of racism as reported by different countries,” Israel is again singled out, in the document’s summary of Iran’s national report. To be sure, Iran’s 7-page report to the conference does single out Israel. So should the UN be faulted for accurately summarizing one country’s report?

The answer is that not everything submitted by every country is required to be included in the universal outcome document.

Indeed, it is rather curious that when Iran’s seven pages on numerous topics are reduced to merely one paragraph, the UN document makes certain to include the reference to the Palestinians.

The offending paragraph:

Iran
There is an increase in racist violence and xenophobia in many parts of the world as well as of defamation of religion, the rejection of diversity and Islamophobia or incitement against Islam. Comment is made on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which constitutes a violation of a wide range of civil and political rights.

European states have insisted they will not tolerate any repeat of the anti-Semitism of the 2001 Durban conference, which sought to delegitmize the Jewish state by singling it out with the racist label.

“[T]he Durban conference in 2001 led to intolerable excesses from certain states and numerous NGOs that turned the conference into a forum against Israel, and no one has forgotten,” said President Sarkozy in February, promising to disengage from the process “if ever our legitimate demands are not taken into account.”

With the draft outcome document (in its formative stage as an “inventory of issues” non-paper) now threatening to turn the conference — as Sarkozy rightly put it — “into a forum against Israel,” will the EU now defend their red lines, maintaining the threat to walk out if these are not respected?

Alfred Moses on Durban II’s Red Lines

AlfredMoses

Alfred Moses, Chair of UN Watch, delivered the keynote address at the UN Watch international conference for Jewish community leaders, “What to Do About Durban II,” Geneva, May 27, 2008.  Click here for full text




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