Archive for the ‘Government Positions’ category

Czechs Leave With Mates

April 21, 2009

The Czech Republic, having seen Ahmadinejad take the floor yesterday, has had enough of the Durban Review Conference.

This is significant, at the Czech Republic holds the EU Presidency, and had previously suggested it would therefore continue to participate as long as other European countries did. This is a rare and total splintering of the European consensus at the UN, especially in Geneva. Five member states, including the Presidency, have left their counterparts behind.

Dominos Keep Falling: Poland, New Zealand Out

April 20, 2009

Two more countries have withdrawn from the Durban Review Conference — Poland and New Zealand. Report on Poland is here from Le Figaro (in French).

Nations of Good Will Must Turn their Backs

April 19, 2009

The author of these words will be addressing the Durban Review Conference tomorrow:

“Zionists have dominated the main media and monetary centers of the world to plunder nations by threats, smearing campaign and psychological war.Today the behavior of U.S. officials and Europe’s parties and governments are dominated by Zionists. They have monetary and financial systems of the world and have kept nations in poverty and direct their money and fortune to their pockets.”

Yep, it’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, helpfully parsing the main themes of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Enabling this racist to appropriate an anti-racist forum is perhaps the ultimate farce. Which is why AJC today reiterated its call for all “nations of good will” to withdraw entirely from the conference; those states who do attend are urged to instruct their representatives to leave the hall when Ahmadinejad delivers his rant. Read the full statement here.

The US, Australia, The Netherlands: Farewell Durban Review

April 19, 2009

It’s been a momentous twenty-four hours. The US announced it was pulling out the Durban Review Conference, swiftly followed by The Netherlands and Australia.

 “We applaud the principled stance of the United States,” said AJC Executive Director David A. Harris of the US statement. “The Obama Administration correctly concluded that the reaffirmation of the 2001 Durban Declaration in the final declaration effectively singles out Israel for condemnation. That is an outrage.” Read AJC’s statement in full here. 

“We know that this choice was difficult, given the Australian government’s deep commitment to racial equality,” said Harris of the Australian decision. “It’s still more proof that the UN’s relentless obsession with one country obstructs the real struggle for justice and human rights.” More here.

 In a letter to Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, AJC wrote:  “Throughout the Durban preparatory process, you have been steadfast in your view that the Netherlands will not accept the unjustified singling out of any country, and will not allow democratic values to be trampled upon in service of a particular political agenda. Today, you courageously acted upon these commitments.” Read the full letter here.

The Blind Man and the Elephant

April 14, 2009

The State Department issued a Durban statement yesterday afternoon. Full text below. What does it mean? Well, Reuters says, “U.S. Hints It Might Attend Racism Meeting in Geneva.” The Washington Post, on the other hand, declares, “U.S. Appears Set to Boycott UN Session on Racism.” What gives?

From U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Wood:

“The United States welcomes the recent progress that has been made through the efforts of many delegations, governments and officials in the formulation of the draft outcome document for the Durban Review Conference on April 20. As the United States noted on February 27, the previous draft text contained objectionable language in several areas. Since then, substantial improvements have been made, including shortening the document, removing all language that singled out any one country or conflict, and removing language that embraced the concept of “defamation of religion” and that demanded reparations for slavery. We commend those who have worked to effect these changes.

“There remain, however, elements of the current draft text that continue to pose significant concerns. The U.S. believes any viable text for the Review Conference must be shortened and not reaffirm in toto the flawed 2001 Durban Declaration and Program of Action (DDPA). In addition, while references to “defamation of religion” have been removed from the current draft text, we cannot support restrictions on freedom of expression that could result from some of the document’s language related to “incitement” to religious hatred — a concept that the United States believes should be narrow and clearly defined and made consistent with human rights obligations ensuring freedom of expression.

“We appreciate that many delegations continue to work hard in good will to improve the current text. We hope that these remaining concerns will be addressed, so that the United States can re-engage the conference process with the hope of arriving at a Conference document that we can support.

Australia ‘Unlikely’ to Attend

April 13, 2009

Australian FM Stephen Smith puts it rather plainly: “Frankly, unless something qualitatively changes or something qualitatively different occurs, it is most unlikely that Australia will attend the Durban Review Conference in Geneva.” (From Xinhua news.)

This is perhaps the clearest indication yet of Australia’s intentions. Though, it must be said, the Conference’s opening gavel is less than a week away. At what point — if only for logistical reasons — do threats of non-attendance need to begin to be realized? (Heck, if anyone’s going to show up from Canberra, don’t they practically have to leave tomorrow?)

“Europe Won’t Compromise” … ??

March 31, 2009

A nice event at the European Parliament results in some good promises from EU officials that Europe “won’t compromise” on Durban II. (See report.) The promise that Europe will withdraw if red lines are crossed is not new. But: (1) When? and (2) Is the reaffirmation of the 2001 Durban Declaration one of those red lines?

In Washington, there’s not much surprise that Europe remains fully engaged with the process. The Russian re-draft seems to have been cleverly designed to eliminate the most noxious language and allowing Europe to stay in the game.