When a draft document was presented precisely equating Zionism and Racism, the United States and the Israeli delegations withdrew from the conference. The Final declaration and Programme of Action from the Conference excluded the offending language, but the NGO Forum produced its own Declaration and Programme including the wording equating Zionism and Racism. Ten years after the UN corrected a wrong, the NGO Forum brought it back through the back door.
While the political aftershocks of the Conference were overshadowed by the events of September 11, it became clear that the UN had failed in its mission. With so much energy dedicated to demonize one country (Israel) for its alleged mistreatment of Palestinians, other issues such as the ethnic cleansing of the Tibet or the massacre of Blacks in Sudan or the second class status of women in many parts of the world went out the window and were not addressed.
Eight years later, the UN called the Durban Review Conference (April 20-April 24, 2009) in Geneva. Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland and the US boycotted it. The Czech Republic attended but withdrew after the first day, and 23 other European Union countries sent low level delegations. The only head of State to attend was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who spoke to the Conference on his belief that the Holocaust is an "ambiguous and dubious question" and being used by the West to justify an aggression against Palestinians. As Ahmadinejad started talking about Israel, even the low level delegations sent by European countries left the room.
Now coming to your own backyard is "Durban III", a continuation of the process started in 2001. And this time in New York City!. It will be held on the sidelines of the opening ceremony for the UN General Assembly on September 21. The US, Canada and Israel already announced their boycott based on the ugly track record this process has already accumulated. The NGO Human Rights Summit will also take place on September 21 and 22 next door to Durban III. The UN Watch NGO issued a statement:
..."The 2001 Durban conference and its progeny have become staging grounds for contemporary bigots and bullies - like the regimes of Sudan and Iran - to cover up their own racism and repression, and to scapegoat the US, the West, and Israel. Based on past experience, we fear that the banner of human rights and anti racism will be hijacked by Iranian President Ahmadinejad and other dictators to deflect attention from their crimes, and to incite anti-Western and anti-Semitic hatred"
Other countries are likely to announce their boycott before the conference starts or just boycott it without announcing it, but the fact that what will very likely be another hate fest will take place just blocks away from the halloweds ground of Ground Zero and ten days after the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is a pill very difficult to swallow...at least for me.
On top of all this, at the UN General Assembly itself, the Palestinian Authority will seek validation of its decision to ignore Israel, bypass negotiations (a violation of its agreements with Israel) and get what they want withlout making any concessions. Yes, I'm talking about the unilateral declaration of Independence that most Palestinians have classified as irrelevant but their leaders consider an important issue to bring Fatah and the PLO together with Hamas under a unified front. What could the goal of such a united front be?...I leave it to your imagination. I'm sure you can think of one or two goals they might have in mind...
PS: People of good faith and all relgious traditions will come togenther to protest the conference on September 21 at the UN Plaza. Click on the link at the top of the email for more information. A local group will probably attend. If you are interested, contact email@example.com