Archive for the 'Durban II NGO Forum' Category

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.”

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

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

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

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

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Nord Sud XXI Role as Agitator at 2001 Durban Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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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.