Durban Watch

Durban II

EYEontheUN ALERT - August 31, 2007

Day 5 and A Summary of the Week's Events

Plans for a global UN hatefest directed towards America and Israel got a huge boost today, as the UN committee preparing for a spectacle to be modeled on the 2001 Durban "anti-racism" conference wound up its first session. All week in Geneva the European Union battled the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the African regional group over terms and conditions. They duked it out over the agenda of a Durban II, how much Americans and Europeans will pay for hate-mongering directed their way and toward Israel and Jews, the creation of more UN bodies to hear wild accusations of Islamophobia, and whether freedom of expression has anything to do with fighting racism.

In the end, the European Union handed in the towel - or in UN-speak 'joined consensus' - and the diplomats went home for a lovely late summer Geneva weekend. Never mind that the UN's anti-American and anti-Israel drumbeat just got a whole lot louder. The event seemed perfectly normal to the UN diplomats negotiating at what was billed as an anti-racism get-together. They were indifferent to the fact that the goings-on might strike - say the ordinary American taxpayer who paid for a quarter of the sessions - as not only bizarre but deeply offensive.

Here are the specifics of the week-long UN meeting.

(1) What are the objectives of Durban II? Would it be confined to the implementation of Durban I - the illustrious plan that singled out Israel as the only racist state on the planet? Or would it allow for a more expansive global Danish-cartoons and fighting-terrorism-is-a-racist-ploy event?

In the final result negotiators agreed on deliberately ambiguous language that will allow the OIC to raise whatever it wants in Durban II. The objectives will "include[e] assessing contemporary manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance." In previous drafts the wording was "identify emerging and persisting contemporary and other manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance since 2001." Some European lawyer undoubtedly thought it very clever to delete the words "since 2001" from the final text. But the word "contemporary" makes the deletion completely irrelevant. The Pakistani representative drove the point home: "The Durban Review Conference should take us to further steps in fighting discrimination: "contemporary forms" takes that into account and allows for exhaustive discussion, to find ways to fight new forms to fight against racial profiling in the name of the fight against terrorism." The EU patted themselves on the back for a later phrase "in order to foster the implementation of the DDPA [Durban Declaration and Programme of Action]" - a caveat which will be utterly incapable of preventing a "contemporary" free-for-all.

The score: OIC 1, EU 0

(2) What UN human rights mechanisms should be invited to participate actively in Durban II by making recommendations? The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) wanted to issue a specific invitation only to the UN investigator or rapporteur on racism and related intolerance (who produces an annual report dedicated to Islamophobia) and the rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. The EU wanted such an invitation issued also to the investigator on freedom of expression. Here is what Egypt - speaking on behalf of 52 states in the African regional group - thought about that idea: "the lack of freedom of expression, although condemnable, is not linked to racism.. .This reference is political in nature and not grounded in objectivity nor in technicality." Iran was more to the point: "The special rapporteur on freedom of expression ... is not acceptable."

The final result? Specific reference is made only to the UN investigators on racism and freedom of religion. There is a mere generic reference to "other relevant human rights mechanisms including other special procedures."

The score: OIC 2, EU 0.

(3) Who should draft the questionnaire which would solicit comments from all states about the extent to which they protect their own peoples from racism? A pre-conference questionnaire was supposed to elicit information about "concrete practices...and main challenges faced in combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance." The EU suggested that the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights should write the questionnaire - so that there would be some chance of human rights experts and an independent secretariat taking a lead role. How did the members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the African Group react? As only Bollywood would appreciate, they were deeply affronted. The OIC and Africans were having none of it. Here is some of the fascinating dialogue that passes for protecting human rights at the UN.
    Egypt: Regarding the questionnaire, whatever wording ends up here, the questionnaire is not a technical issue. The questionnaire should have language on the objectives of the conference...There is no room for the High Commissioner to reinterpret what's in the questionnaire...The High Commissioner...shouldn't assume political or substantial responsibility, but is purely secretarial...Whatever language ends up in the questionnaire done under the direct supervision of the Bureau ...The Bureau must approve the questionnaire before it is sent to the relevant parties."
The human rights luminaries on the Bureau include Iran, Libya, Cuba, Pakistan.

The knees of the EU got a little wobbly at this point in time and Belgium ("in the spirit of compromise") said "how about 'under the guidance of the Bureau' instead of 'under the supervision of the Bureau'"?

The final result? The questionnaire will be drafted under the supervision of the Bureau. And responses will be sent back to the UN Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) - so that PrepCom Bureau members Iran, Libya, Cuba and Pakistan will review how other states implement anti-racism measures.

The score: OIC 3, EU 0.

(4) Milking the UN system, or how many different UN bodies can be created to push the Durban-hate agenda? As part of the Durban II spending spree, the OIC and African Group wanted to buy a whole new apparatus - another working group to meet in Geneva. (No they weren't thinking of spending any money on preventing honor killings or child slavery or female genital mutilation back home.) In their minds, the more folks dedicated to creating mass hysteria over alleged Islamophobia and directing attention towards those evil Israelis and Americans hatching racist plots around the world, the better.

The final result? A new open-ended intergovernmental working group will be created "to follow-up the work of the PrepCom, review additional written contributions and report thereon to the PrepCom."

Just to be clear - in 2008 there will be a new UN Durban II inter-governmental group to "follow-up" and report to the UN Durban II inter-governmental group created in 2007 to "follow-up" and implement Durban I (the PrepCom). And the new UN Durban II inter-governmental group will operate right alongside the other four existing Durban I-creations: the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Durban Declaration on Programme of Action, the Five Independent Eminent Experts to follow-up the Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, and the Ad Hoc Committee of the Human Rights Council on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards.

The score: OIC 4, EU 0

(5) What will be the rules of procedure to govern Durban II? After all, an all-out American and Israeli-bashing exercise needs rules. What kind of rules? "Amendable" ones, decided the UN PrepCom.. Eighteen pages of rules were adopted, a glorious mixture of all kinds of rules from Durban I and the General Assembly, all labeled "provisional" "that can be discussed until the doors open on the first day of the conference in 2009." Oh joy.

The score: OIC 5, EU 0

(6) How much is all this going to cost the Western governments who feel the need to feed the hand that bites them? Last, but not least, came dollars and cents. The European Union, who huffed and puffed that they would withhold funds if they didn't get what they wanted on all the other issues, agreed that the UN regular budget should "provide the necessary resources for the preparations for the Durban Review Conference."

The score: OIC 6, EU 0

Funding for Durban II itself is still up in the air pending a decision about the venue. The EU is "insisting" that it be on UN premises, such as Geneva or New York. The OIC and African Group have other ideas, and are dead set against New York as the site. Apparently, they are worried there are too many Jews in the vicinity.

The UN's latest racist anti-racism forum - the Durban II Preparatory Committee - therefore decided in its first week of operation:
  • To schedule the next meeting of the PrepCom for a UN global conference on racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance so that it coincides with the 2008 Jewish Passover
  • To take note of the 10.25 million dollars spent on the 2001racist anti-racism Durban conference, and encourage states and foundations to "revitalize" their coffers for Durban II
  • To allow every NGO involved in Durban I, regardless of their extremist and racist behavior the first time around, to participate in Durban II unless there is an immediate objection. Governments have only until the end of next week to raise a specific objection to the hundreds of NGOs on the list, lest they be inclined to take too close a look.
  • The subject matter of Durban II will include anything the Organization of the Islamic Conference declares are "contemporary manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance."
  • The only UN human rights investigators specifically invited to provide Durban II with recommendations are two specialists one on Islamophobia and other forms of racism, and one on freedom of religion.
  • Questions sent to states about their records of protecting their own people from racial discrimination will be subject to the approval of the PrepCom Bureau - meaning the likes of Iran, Libya, Cuba and Pakistan. Answers will be reviewed by a body controlled by the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
  • A brand new UN body will be created to increase mass hysteria over allegations of global Islamophobia perpetrated by those fighting terrorism or publishing cartoons in an obscure Danish paper. Or as Egypt put the African Group's greatest concern, the "aftermath" of 9/11 "saw a new and dangerous phenomenon in incitement to racial and religious hatred...[T]he highly defamatory cartoons published by a Danish newspaper...deeply hurt over a billion Muslims around the world, and threatened social harmony and peace, both nationally and internationally."
  • The "rules" of procedure to govern Durban II are so long and so flexible, that no one in their right mind will read them, let alone make the slightest effort to prevent the Organization of the Islamic Conference from playing with its UN-toy any way it wants.
Leaving only one question. Why is the American taxpayer prepared to pay another dime for the UN Human Rights Council or its recent offspring?