The first United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia took place in September 2001, in the South African city of Durban. The resolutions and final documents adopted there, as well as the mass demarches by the many non-governmental organizations during the conference, did not leave any doubt as to the fact that the true goals of this gathering were not to combat racism, but to legitimize aggressive anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Israel was presented at this conference as the only and main transgressor against human rights in the world, an apartheid state, which has a policy of genocide against the Palestinian people. The delegations of the US and Israel then left the conference in protest. It is very significant that only a few days after the end of the first Durban conference, on September 11, 2001, the horrible act of terrorism in New York took place, and turned world terrorism into the main threat to humanity in the XXI century.
Now, eight years later, the committee now transformed into the United Nations Council on Human Rights, has decided to conduct the next conference to assess how well the decisions of the Durban forum have been carried out. This conference is planned to take place on April 20-25, 2009, in Geneva, but it is unofficially called “the Durban-2 Conference,” in an analogy to the first gathering. The chairperson of the preparatory committee was Libya, and its two deputies are Iran and Cuba. The most ardent supporters of the conference are the Islamic countries and certain other so-called “third-world” countries, known for their gross violations of human rights and brutal dictatorial regimes.
The preparation of this conference drew an ambiguous reaction throughout the world. As early as a year ago, Canada was the first to announce its non-participation in the Durban process. Israel made a similar statement in the fall of 2008. The new American administration, which began work only in January 2009, decided to first take part in a session of the preparatory committee, however, on the 27th of February announced its own refusal to take part, stating that the project of the final document is “hopeless.” On the 6th of March, Italy joined the countries boycotting Durban-2. The countries of the European Union and Australia are formally continuing to take part in the work of the preparatory committee, though they have left for themselves the right to not participate in the conference itself; however, the EU has no united opinion on the matter as of yet, and neither has it made a united decision. On the 6th of March, Vatican, with its status as UN observer, announced its desire to participate in the conference.
It is obvious that the reason for such an attitude towards the UN conference in preparation is the fear that it will turn into a second Durban 2001 bacchanalia. The grounds for this can be found it the project of the final document, which has been presented for scrutiny of the preparatory committee. Out of all of the questions of human rights and manifestations of racism in the world, it has singled out only Israel, which is still being accused of apartheid and a genocide of the Palestinian people. Not one of the serious conflicts, such as the situation in Darfur, world terrorism, genocide and dictatorial regimes in Africa, East and South Asia, Latin America, the activity of narcotic-trafficking mafias and anti-Semitism, and so on, are not only not discussed, but even left completely unmentioned. There is a clear tendency to present Israel and Zionism as the only evil in the world. But this is not the only thing from which the troubling character of the document stems. It contains a call to restrict freedom a speech through a reference to the “inadmissibility of affronting religious feelings,” and a call to forbid any and all criticism addressed towards any actions done under the aegis of Islam. The preparatory committee refused to review the situation connected to equality of the sexes. In the first edition there was also a demand to pay reparations to the descendants of American slaves; however, this demand was later removed.
Formally, work on the final document is still continuing. The work groups are to gather several more times in March and April, and the last session of the preparatory committee is to take place several days before the beginning of the conference. This is the reason for which most Western countries are stalling with their decision, hoping for the possibility of the removal of the main unacceptable clauses from this final document. However, there is a growing opinion in the world that boycott of the Durban-2 Conference will be the only correct reaction to the attempt to warp the idea of human rights. It is obvious that a gathering where only militant Islamists and anti-globalists will be present will not be able to lay claim to respectability.
This is why international Jewish organizations, and among them the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, have made the decision to turn to Jewish communities of the diaspora, and call for them to recommend to the governments of their countries that they join the boycott of the Durban-2 Conference. We understand that in many cases the governments might not listen to this recommendation, but we believe that it is in any case important to make the opinion of the world Jewry and our communities known to the authorities of our countries. This is why we address you, dear friends, with the request to contact the Ministries of Foreign Affairs or the governments of you countries, and send them, where possible, in written form, or in oral form, the coordinated decision of the Jewish communities of the world.
Secretary-General of the EAJC