Durban Watch

Durban II

EYEontheUN ALERT - January 3, 2008

The Final Nights of the 2007 UN General Assembly and What Lies Ahead For 2008

At the United Nations of the 21st century there are precious few moments of moral clarity. Saturday, December 22, 2007 at 12:35 a.m. was one of them. 12:48 a.m. was another. On behalf of ordinary decent Americans everywhere, Ambassador Mark Wallace, U.S. Representative for United Nations Management & Reform, said "no" to UN-driven antisemitism and attempts to decimate Israel on the political battlefield.

At 12:35 a.m.. Wallace, together with ambassadors from another 40 UN states, voted against using UN money to pay for "Durban II." [Ed.Note: Spain voted for, but subsequently informed the UN secretariat that it had made an error and intended to vote against.] These states account for 65% of the UN's regular budget.

Then at 12:48 a.m., having lost the vote 93 to 41 [Ed. Note: with the correction for Spain], the representative of the UN's single largest donor voted alone against the UN 2008-09 regular budget because money for hatemongering had been included. This is an enormously important result. Durban funding was not just a minor nuisance among the many instances of gross incompetence, corruption and mismanagement at the UN. It was the reason the U.S. voted against the UN's regular budget for the first time in decades, according to U.S. officials. As Ambassador Wallace put it, the U.S. refused to pay for "revisiting an event that was noxious to my country and a disgrace in the international community" and the brazen attempt to ram funding through by ignoring even the most minimal rules of fiscal responsibility was "the straw that broke the camel's back."

Later that morning at 5:00 a.m. forty-six UN member states - the majority of the fully democratic states in the UN - registered their opposition to Durban II by voting against the "Durban follow-up" resolution on the merits.


The U.S. move presents an extraordinary opportunity to take the following steps forward:
(1) Call upon Congress to ensure that Durban financing is immediately eliminated from any appropriations of American taxpayer dollars to the UN.
(2) Call upon U.S.-based charitable foundations to refuse funding for Durban II and an associated non-governmental forum.
(3) Call upon the U.S. administration to refuse to participate actively in Durban II or its preparation.


The unprecedented moves by the other 40 UN member states that voted against funding Durban II from the UN regular budget, and the 5 additional states that voted against the merits of the Durban follow-up resolution, also presents an extraordinary opportunity to:
(4) particular European Union states, Canada and Australia).
(5) Discourage non-government funding by local organizations for Durban II in these states, and
(6) Encourage these governments to downgrade participation or refuse to participate in Durban II or its preparation.

The 41 states that voted against funding Durban II from the UN regular budget at the Fifth (Budget) Committee were as follows -- (Israel was absent because of its policy not to participate in votes that take place on Shabbat):

Andorra Denmark Latvia Romania
Australia Estonia Lithuania San Marino
Austria Finland Luxembourg Serbia
Belgium France Malta Slovakia
Bosnia & Herzegovina Georgia Moldova Slovenia
Bulgaria Germany Monaco Spain
Canada Greece Netherlands Sweden
Croatia Hungary Poland The FYR Macedonia
Cyprus Ireland Portugal Turkey
Czech Republic Italy Republic of Korea United Kingdom
When the vote on the Durban follow-up resolution took place at 5:00 a.m. in the General Assembly plenary, five more negative votes were cast. This time Israel's vote was cast by proxy. The additional five states were: Israel, Marshall Islands, Montenegro, Palau, Ukraine.

Why Opposing Durban II Matters

Durban II will not just be about Israel. The conference promises to inflame racial and religious intolerance the world over.

As the host country for Durban I, South Africa is playing a leading role in pushing an extremist agenda. Appeals to South African leaders to avert the negative votes during the final hours of the 2007 General Assembly fell on deaf ears. At Durban I the United States and European governments also found themselves directly in the crosshairs. Arab states ranted about the history of Western slavery - as if they had no recollection of their own long and undistinguished record of enslaving black Africans. Zimbabwe screeched about Western racism - as if Mugabe wasn't one of the world's most prominent aficionados. Muslim states howled about Western racial intolerance while millions of migrant workers continue to languish in the rat holes of Saudi Arabia, and religious and ethnic minorities are tortured and repressed across the Middle East.

This time the anti-Western rallying cry will be "Islamophobia." At the U.N. Islamophobia is not invoked to mean legitimate objection to discrimination that wrongly targets people of the Islamic faith. It has become a code word for hysterical accusations that Western democracies are engaged in a phony war to end terrorism as a ploy to subjugate Muslims everywhere. Mindful that the best defense is a good offense, Pakistan (on behalf of the 56 member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)) made the following announcement on opening day of the first Durban II preparatory committee meeting (PrepCom) held this past August. "The defamation of Islam and discrimination against Muslims represent the most conspicuous demonstration of contemporary racism and intolerance...It is regrettable that the world media has allowed defamation and blasphemy in this form..." With that, they marked the kick-off of an aggressive campaign to curtail freedom of expression - along with other hallmarks of a democratic society - under Durban II auspices.

This is in addition to the renewed effort to cast Israel as the world's foremost racist state - with all of the concomitant consequences of isolation, boycotts and sanctions. Pakistan, on behalf of the OIC, made the Durban II agenda unambiguous, saying this on opening day of the Durban II PrepCom: "The conference should move the spotlight on the continued plight of the Palestinian People and non-recognition of their inalienable right to self-determination."

Unopposed, Durban II promises to be worse than Durban I. There is no possibility that Durban II will not be held, or that UN money will not flow into its planning or occurrence. But denying the event the credibility which would come from the participation of the United States and other democracies, and Western funding which would raise the level and numbers of participants, it is possible to render the outcome a Pyrrhic victory for the racists, antisemites and terrorists hoping for further sustenance from the UN.

Congressional Leadership

Members of Congress have already registered their opposition to funding for Durban II. On December 17, 2007 - despite very little notice at the busiest time of the year - Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen introduced H.Res. 879, "Objecting to United Nations funding of the Durban Review Conference using the United Nations regular budget, and for other purposes." There are 21 bipartisan cosponsors: Shelley Berkley, Howard Berman, Gus Bilirakis, Roy Blunt, Dan Burton, Eric Cantor, Steve Chabot, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario Diaz-Balart, Eliot Engel, Luis Fortuno, Bob Inglis, Thaddeus McCotter, Mike Pence, Ted Poe, Dana Rohrabacher, Edward Royce, Christopher Smith, Thomas Tancredo, Robert Wexler, and Joe Wilson.

In addition, on December 13, 2007 Representatives Eric Cantor, Mike Pence, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Christopher Smith and Dave Weldon wrote directly to American Ambassador Khalilzad urging him to object to UN support for Durban II.

This initial expression of clear opposition to the financing of Durban II must be followed-up in light of the American vote against Durban II funding and the fact that the UN majority voted to finance it from UN coffers regardless of American disapproval. Without Congressional follow-up, American taxpayers will pay 22% of the approximately 7 million dollars which has now been appropriated for Durban II - just for starters.

Recapping Durban II before the 2007 UN General Assembly

Overall success

Opposition to Durban II is off to a flying start - as it must be, if the disastrous consequences which lie ahead can be averted. The European Union voted against "Durban follow-up" at the General Assembly for the first time. States accounting for 65% of the UN's regular budget opposed Durban II funding. The United States was sufficiently appalled by the substance and financial consequences of the plan to register its opposition even to the broader 2008-09 UN biennium budget.

Some Confusion and The Response

During the General Assembly, there was some confusion surrounding Durban II and its funding and some inconsistency in the outcomes. The confusion was deliberate, as those pushing Durban II tried hard to muddy the waters.

At the last moment, the G-77 divided Durban II issues into two resolutions (instead of the one resolution on Durban follow-up which had been the norm since 2001). The first of these resolutions contained agreement to the decisions of the initial Durban Preparatory Committee session held in August 2007; it was adopted with only the U.S., Israel and the Marshall Islands voting against.

The funding implications of this first resolution were divided into the 2006-07 and 2008-09 budgets. The resolution on the 2006-07 budget was adopted by consensus, so Durban II preparations taking place prior to December 31, 2007 will be covered by the UN regular budget and no objection was registered. However, the bulk of Durban II funding will be from the 2008-09 budget - to which the United States did object.

Furthermore, although most states agreed to the first of the two Durban resolutions, the second garnered far less support both on the merits and the associated costs. This was the resolution that specified early concrete plans which attracted the 7 million dollar estimated price tag.

It should, therefore, be stressed that theoretical support for the conference was not matched by support for the concrete plans and financial implications to date from the majority of fully democratic countries in the UN and those states responsible for paying 65% of the UN's budget. Furthermore, in the case of the United States and Israel there is no theoretical support of any kind for the conference.


(i) UN General Assembly Third Committee
  • "Draft Resolution on the report of the Human Rights Council on the Preparations of the Durban Review Conference," November 12, 2007 A/C.3/62/L. 66

  • Vote on A/C.3/62/L.66 169 for - 2 against - 4 abstentions

  • "Draft Resolution "From rhetoric to reality: a global call for concrete action against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action," November 13, 2007 A/C.3/62/L.65

  • Revision of "Draft Resolution "From rhetoric to reality: a global call for concrete action against racism, racial intolerance, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action,"" November 27, 2007 A/C.3/62/L.65/Rev.1

  • Vote on A/C.3/62/L.65/Rev.1 - as orally revised 119 for - 45 against - 6 abstentions

  • UN Secretariat Statement of programme budget implications of A/C.3/62/L.66

  • Programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.3/62/L.65, November 20, 2007 A/C.3/62/L.90
(ii) UN Advisory Committee on Administrative & Budgetary Questions (ACABQ)
  • Statement submitted by the Secretary-General in accordance with rule 153 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly on "Global efforts for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action", Programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.3/62/L.65/Rev.1, as orally revised, December 14, 2007 A/C.5/62/21

  • Twenty-ninth report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2008-09, Programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.3/62/L.65/Rev. 1, as orally revised, December 18, 2007 A/62/7/Add.28
(iii) UN General Assembly Fifth (Budget) Committee
(iv) UN General Assembly Plenary