US State Department Statement on Durban Review

US State departmentOn the State Department website.

This Administration is committed to diplomacy and to active and effective engagement with international institutions, which can play a vital role in addressing the challenges we face. The United States looks forward to engaging with our partners around the world to build a more peaceful and secure world.

The Administration is also strongly committed to fighting racism and discrimination. Consistent with that commitment, and with the goal of trying to achieve a positive constructive result in the Durban Review Conference, the United States recently sent a distinguished delegation to attend the ongoing negotiations on the draft outcome document.

Our delegates met with over 30 delegations, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, and other interested parties. In addition, the Department consulted with many governments in capitals regarding our effort. The engagement by the U.S. delegation was widely welcomed and appreciated.
Sadly, however, the document being negotiated has gone from bad to worse, and the current text of the draft outcome document is not salvageable. As a result, the United States will not engage in further negotiations on this text, nor will we participate in a conference based on this text. A conference based on this text would be a missed opportunity to speak clearly about the persistent problem of racism.

The United States remains open to a positive result in Geneva based on a document that takes a constructive approach to tackling the challenges of racism and discrimination. 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). It must not single out any one country or conflict, nor embrace the troubling concept of “defamation of religion.” The U.S. also believes an acceptable document should not go further than the DDPA on the issue of reparations for slavery.

We will observe developments in Geneva and in capitals to see if such an outcome emerges. We would be prepared to re-engage if a document that meets these criteria becomes the basis for deliberations.

On the UN Human Rights Council, we share the concerns of many that the Council’s trajectory is disturbing, that it needs fundamental change to do more to promote and protect the human rights of people around the world, and that it should end its repeated and unbalanced criticisms of Israel.

We believe, however, it furthers our interests and will do more both to achieve these ends and advance human rights if we are part of the conversation and present at the Council’s proceedings.

Accordingly, we will participate in this month’s Human Rights Council session as an observer and will use the opportunity to strengthen old partnerships and forge new ones. These times demand seriousness and candor, and we pledge to closely work with our partners in the international community to avoid politicization and to achieve our shared goals.

Our participation as an observer is a sign of the commitment of the Administration to advancing the cause of human rights in the multilateral arena. We look forward to the help and cooperation of our friends and allies to ensure the Human Rights Council focuses on the pressing human rights concerns of our time.

Via the most excellent ICARE, the Internet Centre Against Racism in Europe

For an excellent account of what it was like to be at the UN and NGO global conferences against racism in 2001, and the antisemitic atmosphere which developed there, read The Durban Diaries.

3 Responses to “US State Department Statement on Durban Review”

  1. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Despite David H’s view, expressed some months ago, to the contrary, I think this is great news. The fewer parliamentary democracies that attend this farrago, the better. Thus, the more obvious it is that it is only regimes that are far from democratic, that are steeped in regime-led and ideological anti-Zionism and antisemitism, the less likely are any final declarations declaring “Zionism is racism” (or some variation on this theme) to be taken seriously.

    Whatever Independent Jewish Voices, JfJfP, Boycott Israeli Goods, PSC, Respect, SWP etc and so forth say.

  2. Jacob Says:

    Dr. Pearl speaks to Jeffrey Goldberg about Durban:

    From the interview:

    “Judea Pearl on Durban II and Jimmy Carter”

    “JG: Do you think we’ve reached some sort of point of no return in the questioning of Israel’s legitimacy?

    JD: There is latent anti-Semitic pressure in the world and Gaza took the lid off. That’s one way to look at it. Group hysteria is catching. Gaza gives people the chance to feel morally superior. I mean, look at the Libyan government. Are they saying they’re morally superior to Israel? For the Libyan people it’s very important that there’s one speck, one human area, where you’re worth something – you’re morally superior to the Jews. It’s a confirmation of worthiness. The average Libyan is not having a very good time most days. So it’s good to have a scapegoat. This is what Durban is about.”

    Read it all here,

    http://jeffreygoldberg.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/02/judea_pearl_boycott_durban_ii.php

  3. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    And Harry’s Place (see links two postings down, first link) adds to the total not going to Durban 2. As well as Canada and Israel, we now have the US (whatever sneers some of the HP commenters make), allegedly the UK and Italy, some suggest that Holland won’t go either, nor will Australia.

    As one commenter notes, begins to look like Denis MacShane’s (blessed be his name!) forum of democratic nations as an alternative to the UN General Assembly for sensible dscussion of the issue of national sovreignity and racism of all stripes.


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