Durban Watch

Durban II

EYEontheUN ALERT - August 10, 2007

United Nations Hands Genocide Advocate Iran an Anti-racism Leadership Role

The world's most notorious state exponent of anti-semitism – Iran – is being given a seat on the UN committee planning a 2009 UN anti-racism conference. This conference is billed as a review of the implementation of the 2001 UN conference against racism which was held in Durban, South Africa. The infamous Durban Conference is remembered for its broadcast of anti-semitism from a global platform under a UN banner and with UN blessing. Now Iran is being placed in a position to drive the agenda of Durban II. Other members slated to take their place on the so-called Bureau for the Durban Preparatory Committee (Prep Com) are Libya - the Chair, Cuba and Pakistan. The Prep Com will meet for the first time in Geneva, August 27, 2007.

BACKGROUND – DURBAN I, September 2001

The first UN Durban Racism Conference, which ended September 8, 2001 – three days before the terrible events of September 11th – was a notorious outpouring of hate and anti-semitism directed at Jews, Israel and the United States. It was a global soapbox for terrorists and their sympathizers the world over. The Durban Non-governmental (NGO) Forum, held in association with the government conference, adopted a declaration labeling Zionism as racism and deleted proposals on protection from modern forms of anti-semitism. At the NGO Forum, the only session on anti-semitism was shut down by a mob screaming "you are killers;" a news conference by Jewish NGOs from all over the globe who were attempting to bear witness to the hate was cut short by another mob, and the display and distribution of copies of anti-semitic literature akin to that of Nazi Germany was openly tolerated. The government conference which followed permitted the daily distribution of material drawing direct links between Israelis and Nazis. Material reading "fight racism, not Jews" was confiscated by security officials. Ultimately, the government conference adopted a Durban Declaration which singled out Israel as the world's one and only racist state.

As Anne Bayefsky, editor of and participant in the Durban conference wrote shortly thereafter, the legacy of the racism and anti-semitism of the Durban conference extends far beyond the halls and conferences of the UN:

"The Durban World Conference on Racism...revealed the intimate connections between anti-racism politics and a key platform in the terrorist agenda, namely, the delegitimation of Israel and the legitimation of terrorism against its citizens. The Durban phenomenon was repeated in the aftermath of September 11 as allegations of racism and displays of anti-semitism abounded from terrorists, apologists of terrorism in the media, and at the 2001 UN General Assembly deliberations on terrorism. The linkage between racial hatred and terrorism is a phenomenon which democracies ignore at their peril. Durban uncovered racism as a real root cause of terrorism, a motivation which the terrorist seeks to camouflage by the accusation of racism itself.The World Conference Against Racism became a forum for racism. Human rights was used not as a facilitator for communication but as a weapon of political interests antithetical to human rights protection. A large group of states sought to minimize or exclude references to the Holocaust, redefine or ignore anti-semitism, and isolate the state of Israel from the global community as a racist practitioner of apartheid and crimes against humanity. The vestiges of Jewish victimhood were to be systematically removed by deleting the references to anti-semitism and the Holocaust, to be displaced by the Palestinian victim living under racist, Nazi-like, oppression.The hate literature distributed during the NGO conference included caricatures of Jews with hooked noses, Palestinian blood on their hands, surrounded by money, and Israelis wearing Nazi emblems. At the Government Conference, there was daily distribution by NGO participants of literature reading "Nazi-Israeli apartheid," while inside the drafting committees, states such as Syria and Iran objected to the inclusion of anti-semitism or the Holocaust on the grounds that anti-semitism was a "complicated," "curious," and "bizarre" concept, and reference to the Holocaust would be imbalanced or "favoritism." ...

The dangerousness of the Durban rhetoric and its program of action were immediately evidenced by the events of September 11 and their aftermath. Political actors and commentators continued to weave the same distorted pattern which Durban purported to legitimize. At the UN, which was seized throughout the fall 2001 General Assembly with the subject of terrorism, Arab states pressed the Durban racist strategy in response to September 11. A successful war against terrorism demands clarity of the target, and the Durban result threatens its identification."
Handout at the NGO Forum Conference Demonstration during the Durban Conference
Druban Durban

See Film from Durban 2001 Conference

In 2007, after six years of a world poisoned by the Durban 2001 legacy, Iran continues to develop its nuclear weapons program while advocating genocide against the Jewish state – with the UN taking no meaningful action to stop it. On the contrary, now Iran can wrap itself in a UN flag while at the helm of the next global conference against racism, Durban II.


The decision to repeat Durban was taken by the UN General Assembly on December 19, 2006. The resolution sought:

"to convene in 2009 a review conference on the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action to be conducted within the framework of the General Assembly, making use of the three existing and ongoing follow-up mechanisms, and to this end requests the Human Rights Council to undertake preparations for this event and formulate a concrete plan by 2007 for the review conference; and to provide updates and reports on this issue on an annual basis to both the Secretary-General and the General Assembly."
This resolution followed a vote of the Human Rights Council on December 8, 2006 by which the African Group of states forced through a resolution – against the wishes of all Western European states and others (34 in favor, 12 against and 1 abstention) – setting up the preparatory infrastructure for Durban II. The Council resolution names the Council itself as the conference preparatory committee, grants the Council the power to elect a Bureau, and calls for meetings three weeks in 2007 and two weeks in 2008.

One specific inclusion in the Human Rights Council resolution reveals the direction its supporters intend it to take. In inviting different UN bodies to contribute to the new preparatory committee's work, the resolution singled out only two of the UN's many Special Investigators or Rapporteurs – the Special Rapporteur on Racism and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. No mention is made, for example, of the rapporteur on promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. In other words, accusations of Islamophobia and objections to the Danish cartoons will be on the agenda. Freedom of expression will not.


The first session will begin with Iran and company, as members of the Bureau of the Prep Com of the Durban Review Conference, taking their seats. With Iran's election to the Bureau, the racists will be the UN spokespersons against racism, and the message and mission of the United Nations will have been totally inverted – again. Here is what the Iranian member of the Bureau can contribute to an anti-racism conference:

  • Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadenijad has called for the Jewish state to be wiped off the map and has backed up this threat already by arming terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah.Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadenijad has called the Holocaust a "myth" and in 2006 sponsored a Holocaust cartoon exhibition. Serious ongoing Iranian human rights abuses abound. Newspapers report: "Under Iranian law, capital offenses include adultery by married people, incest, rape, convictions of unmarried persons for fornication, convictions for drinking alcohol, or convictions for homosexual acts among men."
  • A long history of persecution of the Ba'hai minority in Iran.

In addition to Iran as a Bureau member, Libya will be the Chair of the Prep Com's Bureau. Libya is a country with one of the world's worst human rights records and its chairmanship of the former Commission on Human Rights was both a disgrace and a significant factor in its ultimate demise. Looking at all Bureau members, they will be:

African Group: Cameroon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Senegal, South Africa
Asian Group: Indonesia, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Pakistan
Latin American and Caribbean Group: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba
Eastern European Group: Armenia, Croatia, Estonia, Russian Federation
Western European and Others Group: Belgium, Greece, Norway, Turkey
Some of these Bureau members have used the UN in the recent past as a platform to promote terrorism, defend states guilty of genocide and demonize Jews and Israel repeatedly. The following statements provide a glimpse into their plans for Durban II:

Libya – chair of the Durban Prep Com - comparing Jews to Nazis at the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly on November 8, 2006:

"...the practices of the Israeli forces in the Occupied Palestine Territories reminds us of the massacres that were made in the last century. And here we need psychologists and therapists to interpret the repetition of the victim for the same criminal acts, the repetition of the same victim to be exposed as the same criminal acts to which it was -- One of the Arab settlers said -- and I quote – 'I have an impression that those who perpetrate such barbarian acts against the Palestinian people are the remnants who committed similar acts against the Jews in Europe.'"
Libya, calling for the end of Israel as a Jewish state at the General Debate of the General Assembly, September 25, 2006:

"The only to guarantee the return of all Palestinian refugees to their lands and to establish a democratic state on the land of historical Palestine..."
South Africa , voting against a draft resolution on Burma/Myanmar, January 12, 2007, Security Council:

"I regret to inform the Council that South Africa will vote against the draft resolution on Myanmar."
South Africa on the problematic "Jewish character" of Jerusalem, at the Emergency Special Session on the security fence, December 15, 2006:

"Israel continues its policy of the de-Palestinization of Jerusalem....action of the Israeli government is designed to ensure that Jerusalem assumes a predominantly Jewish character..."
Indonesia, in defense of the government of Sudan at the Special Session of the Human Rights Council on the situation of Human Rights in Darfur, December 12, 2006:

"...the Government of Sudan is cooperating with the Council...The situation in complicated, multi-dimensional, and involves many actors and groups. It encompasses tribal conflicts; conflicts between farmers and herders; and conflicts between political interests..."
Indonesia blaming the "campaign against terrorism" and free speech for religious intolerance, while at the Third Committee of the General Assembly, September 22, 2006:

"...the present predicament in which the global community finds itself with regard to the way different religious and cultural denominations perceive one another, arises from a state of confrontation. This confrontation is exacerbated by a sense of injustice and persecution which feed essentially on the raft of measures introduced in the campaign against terrorism...we agree with cautions against unlimited freedom of expression and the risk it presents of inhibiting the balance that international norms seek to establish between freedom of expression and religious freedom. Only and specifically by maintaining this balance can the prohibition of the incitement to religious and racial guaranteed."
Pakistan excusing violence against Israelis at the Third Committee of the General Assembly, November 7, 2006

"...the legitimacy of the struggles of peoples for self-determination cannot be compromised by tarnishing it with the tarbush of terrorism."
Pakistan on the importance of fighting free speech with the same "zeal" as fighting terrorism at the Third Committee of the General Assembly, November 6, 2006:

"Hate speech against manifestations of religious and cultural practices must be condemned with the same zeal with which the fight against terrorism is being pursued."
Cuba blaming the West for the racist genocide being perpetrated by the Sudanese government at the Special Session of the Human Rights Council on the situation of Human Rights in Darfur, December 12, 2006:

"The grave human rights and humanitarian situation in Darfur, a complex and delicate situation with deep roots in the colonial past, in the artificial divisions crated in Africa by ancient metropolis, in the structural poverty caused by centuries of exploitation and plundering, and in current economic and geostrategic interests of the great superpower. In addition to these elements, there is a persistent campaign of discredit and exaggeration orchestrated against the Government of Sudan with the clear aim of encouraging the hegemonic pretensions of the West. Cuba can attest to the tireless efforts of the Government of Sudan to face this crisis..."
Cuba, accusing Israel of planning genocide at the Third Special Session of the Human Rights Council on November 15, 2006:

"It is evident then that an entire population is being a victim a true genocide, deliberately planned and carried out as a state policy."
Cuba legitimizing terrorism against civilians at the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly on October 12, 2006:

"A Comprehensive Convention on international terrorism has to guarantee a clear distinction between terrorism and the peoples' legitimate struggle for their independence and in defense of their right to self-determination."

The warm-up for the racists and anti-semites

commanding "anti-racism" leadership roles for the UN's Durban II.