Divergences of opinion clear on third day of Durban II

Differences in viewpoints between countries and regions were evident at yesterday’s meeting of the Durban Review Conference. Topics discussed included anti-Semitism, “Islamophobia,” homophobia, foreign occupation, and poverty.

Several European delegations, along with Argentina, explicitly or implicitly condemned the anti-Semitic and hateful remarks of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

The UK said that Ahmedinejad has taken the fight against racism backwards.

Finland said, “There should be no place for anti-Semitism here.”

Spain said that the forum of the conference should not be used to “incite hatred or single out states.”

Sweden condemned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and France called for the “universal decriminalization of homosexuality.”

Sweden also stressed respect for freedom of expression.

France noted the importance of remembering the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide, while emphasizing the “responsibility to protect” to ensure these atrocities never happen again.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Algeria, Jordan, and Venezuela stressed the Palestinian cause and condemned Israel.

Algeria compared Israel to apartheid South Africa and condemned the “racist arrogance, especially during the recent massacre in the Gaza Strip.”

Venezuela stated, “The massacre of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is not mentioned, which we regret, and we call for compensation by the perpetrators. The Jewish people were victims of the Holocaust, but the Israeli government has to be condemned for its behavior.”

Kuwait also called for “the occupying power” to leave the Golan.

The UAE condemned the “defamation of religions.”

Azerbaijan alluded to this issue, condemning “the negative stereotyping of religions, especially of Islam.”

Jordan, Azerbaijan, and Kuwait condemned “Islamophobia.”

Jordan said “The events of September 11 aggravated Islamophobia.”

Azerbaijan said that “a whole religion or society cannot be considered a danger.”

Kuwait stated its concern about “rising Islamophobia” and “media campaigns” in this regard.

Nicaragua complained that “the rich are enjoying life, while the poor are merely surviving” and said, “We can’t continue to allow speculators on international markets to make millions while people everyday go to bed with an empty stomach.”

Algeria complained that “certain rich countries have maintained the boycott of our sessions.”

Azerbaijan noted that it made financial contributions to the conference.

China said, “The slave trade, colonialism, foreign occupation and apartheid brought suffering to people of Africa and Asia, but many countries still don’t want to live up to their responsibility.”

Kuwait stated its “solidarity with the African people.”

Meeting with High Commissioner Pillay
High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay also hosted a meeting this day. In her opening remarks, she applauded the “speedy adoption” of the outcome document for the conference, saying that she was right to defend the conference against its critics.

“Many feared the document would reference defamation of religion. It does not; it places the discussion within the context of international human rights law,” she said. “I believe the outcome document represents an important tool that prevents those who continue to deny the Holocaust from doing this, and also provides the need for the Palestinians to have a homeland.”

She went onto to decry “Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and Christianophobia” as unacceptable.

UN Watch