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Resources updated between Monday, July 21, 2008 and Sunday, July 27, 2008
July 25, 2008
How Sudan Was Brought to Court Article
Linking to South Africa Article
July 24, 2008
Kofi break just ended Article
July 23, 2008
Fanning the Flames of Racism Article
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The United Nations is planning a global anti-racism conference that is destined to encourage racism. Known as Durban II, and to take place in Geneva next April, it follows the notorious anti-semitic hatefest held in Durban seven years ago.
The UN, in its early years, was the world's best hope for securing peace and security and promoting human rights. However, over time its Human Rights Commission fell into disrepute and in 2006 it was replaced by the Human Rights Council. The cure turned out to be worse than the disease. Council members elected to leadership roles on the committee planning the Durban II anti-racism conference included a Libyan, Cuban and Iranian. In turn, the committee has scheduled its two sessions over major Jewish holidays, thus assuring minimal Jewish attendance. Meetings have heard from Pakistan and Algeria trying to redefine anti-Semitism by saying it targets Arab and Muslims, even though the term was coined by a Jew-hater to mean Jew hatred.
The group of countries that will be preparing the first draft of the outcome from Durban II has just been announced. It includes such rights-respecting regimes as Azerbaijan, China, Egypt, Iran and Pakistan.
And they are just warming up. At Durban I gangs of young thugs roamed the precincts of the conference unchallenged, carrying signs such as "For the liberation of Quds, machine guns based upon faith and Islam must be used". They burst into and broke up an official session on anti-Semitism with a chorus of "You are killers. You are killers." Police ordered the Jewish centre in Durban closed for fear of a mob attack.
The US and Israel walked out of Durban I. Australia stayed, making a bitter statement about the Durban declaration adopted by governments in the final moments: "We regret that far too much of our time has been consumed by bitter, divisive exchanges on issues which have done nothing to advance the cause of combating racism ... The references to the Middle East contain language which will do nothing to achieve greater peace in that troubled region and nothing to advance the objectives of this conference."
However, the specific reservations Australia made to the declaration have been omitted by the UN ever since. In some important respects Durban II will be different - and worse. The UN human rights world has been preparing for an all-out assault on democratic rights and freedoms, especially freedom of speech. The name of the game is to pit freedom of speech against the defamation of religion - specifically Islam. Thus, the preparatory meetings for Durban II have been marked by rants from Islamic states about the evils of free speech. Algeria denounced the ideological preference given to freedom of expression to the detriment of other freedoms. Syria complained about crimes perpetrated in the name of democracy.
The strategy of the state practitioners of racism is clear: the best defence is a good offence. Iran, led by a Holocaust denier, summed up the plans for Durban II during April's preparations: "The emerging of new forms of racism in the aftermath of the Durban 2001 conference, particularly after 9/11 and under the pretext of the so-called war on terror, reflects the visible rise of the contemporary forms of racism throughout the world and especially against Muslims." Durban I ended three days before the September 11 attacks. Durban II is intended to define all Muslims as the victims of racist Western colonisers acting under the pretence of ending terrorism. A certain recipe to increase the clash of civilisations, not diminish it.
The decision whether to go or stay away should be influenced by the maths. Australia and other democracies do not have the numbers to change the result. Fully free democracies are in the minority - with real consequences.
Totalling the criticisms made of human rights violations in specific states throughout the UN system last year, Israel was said to be the top offender, the US was equal fourth and Australia was 20th - with more criticisms of human rights abuses said to be perpetrated by Australia than Syria at 21 or Zimbabwe at 22. Sixty per cent of the council's decisions condemning an individual state have been directed at Israel - with nothing, for example, on China or Saudi Arabia, which are both council members. Israel is the classic diversionary tactic. At the UN's leading human rights body the foxes mind the chicken coop.
There is no doubt that Durban II will use a UN platform to encourage racism, spread anti-Semitism and undermine democracy's most precious freedoms. The question is whether democracies will deny it legitimacy - in pursuit of the actual protection of human rights.
This article first appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald.
July 21, 2008