Politics & Policy

Durban II

The coming "anti-racist" spectacle.

Rudy Giuliani apparently remembers John Kerry’s October, 2004 blunder of calling for a “global test” of approval to choose the planks of American foreign policy. In the September/October 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs, Guiliani challenges all would-be presidents to “look realistically at America’s relationship with the United Nations.” And it’s not a pretty sight.

Last Friday in Geneva, the U.N. launched a two-year plan which will culminate in a full-throated anti-American and anti-Israel world conference on racism in 2009. Modeled on the notorious 2001 Durban “anti-racism” conference, Durban II similarly promises to attract terrorist sympathizers and anti-Semites from around the globe. The spectacle of last week’s planning session might be described as the theater of the absurd, except that the check handed to the American taxpayer for 22 percent of the costs was very real.

The event is the brainchild of the U.N.’s lead human-rights body — the Human Rights Council. The Council is doubling as the preparatory committee (PrepCom) of Durban II. On the first day of the session the PrepCom elected Libya as its chair, Cuba as rapporteur, and Iran as a member of its executive — to plan a conference about human rights.

Like a fixed boxing match, the European Union went a few rounds, talking tough early on about refusing a long list of demands from the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Meanwhile, everyone understands that the OIC is in charge, since it holds a majority of seats on each of the African and Asian regional groups, which in turn hold the balance of power on the Council-PrepCom. The EU strategy on U.N. territory is, therefore, to join consensus instead of voting against anything it can’t win — after a few struts it collapses. Its rationale is to avoid the appearance of weakness that comes with losing votes, and to fool large numbers of Europeans into thinking the U.N. is a happy harmonious place where the EU is numero uno.

Unbeknownst to the Europeans, the OIC is on to them. And over the course of the negotiations they unveiled an audacious wish list for Durban II:

‐ adopting objectives far beyond the original idea of a “Durban review conference”;

‐ creating another U.N. committee to prepare for Durban II;

‐issuing special participation invitations only to the U.N. investigators (rapporteurs) on racism and Islamophobia, and freedom of religion;

‐adopting new rules of procedure especially designed for the Conference;

‐introducing vetting for a pre-conference questionnaire that might have asked potentially intrusive questions of states about actual protection from discrimination;

‐paying for the Durban II preparations from the U.N.’s regular budget (that is the West); and

‐allowing every NGO that participated in Durban I to participate in Durban II unless objections were made in just 14 days.

On every demand the EU capitulated. They didn’t even argue about the decision to schedule the first substantive session of the preparatory committee for a U.N. global conference on racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance such that it coincides with almost the entire 2008 Jewish Passover.

The writing for this latest U.N. “anti-racism” initiative is clearly already on the wall. The NGOs now lined up to participate have qualifying credentials that include referring to Israel only in quotation marks. One U.N.-accredited NGO that will be entitled to join the action is the International Islamic Relief Organization. The IIRO branches in Indonesia and the Philippines, incidentally, were recently put on the U.S. Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals List for “facilitating fundraising for al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups.”

The U.N. rapporteur on freedom of expression will not be issued a specific invitation to participate in Durban II. The thinking behind this decision was best expressed by Iran: “The special rapporteur on freedom of expression … is not acceptable.” The investigator may squeeze in through a crack in the rules for “others.”

The objectives of Durban II will include anything the OIC considers “contemporary manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” Pakistan was unabashed about what’s now on the agenda: “‘contemporary forms’…allows for exhaustive discussion, to find ways to fight new forms to fight against racial profiling in the name of the fight against terrorism.” Egypt — speaking on behalf of the 52 members of the African regional group — spelled it out even further. Their greatest concern is that 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.”

In other words, the U.N.’s Durban II has been created to increase mass hysteria over allegations of global Islamophobia perpetrated by those fighting terrorism or publishing cartoons in an obscure Danish paper. Far from reducing racial, ethnic, and religious terrorism, it is guaranteed to exacerbate it.

As U.N. human-rights authorities Iran, Libya, and Cuba now gear up for the inevitable clash between civilization and its antithesis, it is well to remember that this is not a harmless shouting match. Durban I ended three days before 9/11. Fictitious and feverish allegations of racism fan real flames.

The U.N. — created to realize peace and security and protect human rights — has veered far off course and squandered our trust. As we move into the primary season, the role of today’s U.N. in shaping American foreign policy ought to be a central issue. An organization which provides sustenance to anti-Semites, terrorists, and anti-democratic forces, is not the right address for winning allies and defeating enemies.

Guiliani is correct — the U.N. “has not lived up to the great hopes that inspired its creation… [We] must be prepared to look to other tools.”

 – Anne Bayefsky is senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute. She also serves as the director of the, Touro Institute for Human Rights and the Holocaust and as the editor of EYEontheUN.org.

Anne Bayefsky — Professor A.F. Bayefsky, B.A., M.A., LL.B., M.Litt. (Oxon.), is a Professor at York University, Toronto, Canada, and a Barrister and Solicitor, Ontario Bar. She is also an Adjunct Professor at ...


The Latest