Wednesday, April 22, 2009

UN Racism conference was a farce before it started

While most of the focus on the UN Racism Conference (Durban Review Conference) has been on Ahmadinejad, the signs were there well before that this would be a farce. Islamic countries all wanted the conference to be an effort to prohibit defamation of religion, and to slam Israel. Cuba also wanted anything to do with freedom of speech removed. Iran sought to overwhelmingly dominate the conference proceedings.

Even more sinister is the effort by China, Cuba and South Africa to promote the idea that victims of Trans-Atlantic slave trade should be compensated - i.e. implying the old call that African-Americans should be compensated for what their distant ancestors suffered. That all fell flat.

UN Watch has excellent coverage of the background meetings before the Conference, showing just what rogues so many attendees were looking to be:

In the Intercessional Working Group for the Durban Review Conference, Pakistan, speaking for the group of Islamic states (OIC), objected to paragraph 56, which “Stresses that the right to freedom of opinion and expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic, pluralistic society,” saying that it did not see how this relates to the conference’s focus on racism.

(In which case what harm does it do? Yes you can guess).

Cuba argued that paragraphs about freedom of speech and expression should be moved to the more passive Section 1, which reviews progress of states rather than demanding action from them.

(Funny that, you don't get freedom of speech and expression in Cuba)

Cuba also endorsed mention of the ad hoc committee on complementary standards, an Algerian-chaired U.N. committee that is seeking to add an additional protocol to the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) that would define criticism of religion as a violation.

(In other words, trying to say criticising a religion is a form of racism - what nonsense).

China, Cuba, and South Africa argued that there needs to be more work on paragraphs 60-62 on the trans-Atlantic slave trade. China said these paragraphs should be more “victims oriented,” implying support for the African-led effort to demand that Western countries pay reparations for the past injustice.

(In other words, the US government should pay African-Americans compensation for the suffering of their ancestors - even though Africans in Africa today almost all have lower standards of living than African-Americans).

In a meeting of the Durban II working group at the U.N. Human Rights Council, Iran was extremely active, proposing amendments and language changes in more paragraphs than any other state, and in a few instances, ignoring the Chair’s plea to hold off on certain paragraphs for the time being and engage in a constructive manner.

The closing session of the working group on the draft Durban II declaration:

Iran asked that the paragraph on Holocaust remembrance be deleted;

(because of course, it mind never have happened right?)

The Czech Republic for the EU requested an amendment to the controversial paragraph 30, which “Takes note with appreciation that the Ad hoc Committee on the Elaboration of International Complementary Standards convened its first session,” proposing to delete, “with appreciation.” The ad hoc committee is primarily responsible for promoting the campaign to criminalize the “defamation of religions” within U.N. human rights law. Nigeria lashed back at the EU, proposing to keep “appreciation,” while adding, “and commends” the committee. The paragraph was then tabled and skipped.

(Czechs bravely wanted to dismiss the Islamic driven attempt to restrict religious criticism, while Nigeria endorses Islamofascism).

proposed the deletion of paragraphs 55 and 56, which emphasize the importance of freedom of expression, saying, “There is no reason why we should single out one right, which is not even associated with the fight against racism.”

Iran proposed a new paragraph 56 that calls for “permissible restrictions to freedom of expression.” It also suggested integration of the “defamation of religions” concept into article 66, which deals with incitement to hatred.

(Both being great opponents to freedom of expression).

So is it any surprise that New Zealand felt that there was no point going to fight a gallery of rogues that were uninterested in racism, and driven more by fear of their own appalling standards of free speech and openness being scrutinised?

No comments: