The Durban Review Conference in Geneva is meant to be like that. Its stated goal is “evaluate progress towards the goals set by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.”
Racism is bad right? What’s wrong with eliminating racism, xenophobia and “related intolerance”? Nothing of course, until you find out what is really behind it.
You see a real conference would look at what has happened at Darfur, and how so many countries have provided succuour to the Sudanese government and be dismayed. It would look at the blatant racism in the media of many in the Middle East, not just what happens in the Israeli occupied territories.
So what is wrong with the conference? For starters, Islamic countries are seeking religion to be put on the same level as race. The Netherlands is boycotting the conference for that reason. While people have a right to freedom of religion (and no religion, which none of the conference documents acknowledge), it is NOT about race. Religion is a choice. Funnily enough, precious few Islamic countries allow Muslims to commit apostasy without severe punishment. Many countries are seeking this conference to pass resolutions banning offence against religion - which is an attack on free speech and open debate.
The United States is boycotting it because Islamic countries are seeking to return to the “Zionism is racism” focus, making it predominantly about Israel.
Australia is boycotting it for similar reasons, as delegates from some countries used it as a forum to declare anti-semitic views.
Canada, Italy and Israel are also boycotting.
So for Green MP Keith Locke to say boycotting would be “just to follow the US”, is a lie. It would be following many Western countries that share our values, values of free speech, freedom of religion (and to have no religion), and to be committed against racism as a whole, not to single out Israel on dubious grounds.
It speaks volumes about the immaturity of the Green Party’s foreign policy that it rejects a boycott because the US - and we are talking about the Obama Administration – is boycotting, along with many others. Of course given the Greens support race based politics in New Zealand why should one be surprised.
New Zealand should stand against the hijacking of this conference by countries that practice vile racism in their media against Jews, that ignore the racist based genocide in Sudan (why is that not mentioned but Israel is) and want to suppress religious dissent.
Murray McCully is considering New Zealand’s position – it is right to stand alongside our friends in opposing the doggerel that will come from Geneva.
The UN for decades was a forum for brutal dictatorships and autocracies to pontificate about South Africa and Israel, ignoring their own murderous records - it should not now be the forum for the Muslim dominated autocracies that span from the Maghreb to Malaysia.
UPDATE: Associated Press is reporting that Germany is boycotting now too - and that is a country that knows only too much from history about racism, and moving on beyond it.
UPDATE 2: Foreign Affairs MinisterMurray McCully has announced New Zealand is NOT attending. He said it needed to responsibly and productively address racism
“It would also need to avoid circumscribing freedom of expression, such as in the contentious area of ‘defamation of religion’.
“I am not satisfied that the wording emerging from preparatory discussions will prevent the Review Conference from descending into the same kind of rancorous and unproductive debate that took place in 2001.
“It is a pity that this should have been the case. Combating racism and related intolerance is an important cause, and one to which New Zealand attaches the highest importance.“However the Review Conference in Geneva is not likely to advance the cause of race relations at the international level, and so New Zealand, like many other countries, will not be represented at it"