Following is a summary of the 3rd substantive session of the Durban Review Preparatory Committee, which met yesterday and today, and which concludes tomorrow.
Wednesday, April 15
- The session began with release of a new document that now describes “foreign occupation” — U.N. code for Israel — a form of racism. Click here for latest (15 April) Durban 2 text. The Arab states who proposed this text meant Israel, but the wider implications of such language need to be considered. Shall we now define the NATO occupation of parts of the former Yugoslavia, Afganistan, and Iraq, as racist? What about the American, Russian, British and French occupation of post-war Germany?�
- The Libyan Chair of the committtee called for a spirit of cooperation and consensus. She asked delegations to “join me in the optimism that all issues will be agreed upon and we embark in the conference with a text that is acceptable to all.”
- UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Navi Pillay reiterated the call of the chair for a successful conference outcome, further stressing “a clear and urgent need to boost up the capacities of [my office’s] anti discrimination unit.”
- The PrepCom adopted by consensus the accreditation of 81 NGOs that do not have consultative status and did not participate in Durban I.
- Brazil, Armenia, Pakistan, and Cuba all announced that they would have accepted the present text as it stands, but since the floor is open for amendments, they offered further amendments to the text.
- Pakistan complained that the March 17 text diluted their position, and this text dilutes their position even further. Pakistan also stated that they would refuse to make any further “compromises.” Pakistan proposed an amendment be made to Para 11: “Recognizes with deep concern the negative stereotyping and stigmatization of religions resulting in denial or undermining the rights of persons associated with them and the global rise in the number of incidents of racial or religious intolerance.”
- Iran complained that the majority of its contributions during the past few days are either not reflected or absent from the text and therefore it cannot, at this stage, associate their delegation with the text as it stands. Specific concerns included Para 6: Iran had introduced a concept pertaining to cultural diversity and inquired to why it was not in the present text. Iran also asked why its amendments pertaining to insulting religion, and the term “stereotyping” in Para 67 have “magically disappeared.” Iran asked why the reference to freedom of expression has been deleted even though it compromised by bringing the language in accordance with the ICCPR, and why in Para 9, they have not included a reference to Human Rights law.
- The Iranian Ambassador demanded the deletion of “human rights defenders” in paragraph 24 on the ground that the “term has never been defined, and for us we would like to substitute this with civil society, at least we know what they do.”
- The Czech Republic refrained from forwarding their list of minor amendments in order to achieve a consensus, but would now nevertheless do so, as other delegations didn’t follow their example. The amendments included the proposal to substitute “slave trade” with “slave trades.”
- The Dutch delegate said, that he doesn’t find the new draft to be an improvement and stated “the current document does not look like one on which we can reach consensus until tomorrow.”
- Australia sharply criticized the Islamic bloc, stating that they would consider any attempt to delete a referral to the Holocaust “very offensive”.
- Sudan asked for a deletion of a referral to the ICC on the ground that this institution was only founded after the Durban I conference and would therefore fall out of the agreement to stick to the DDPA framework.
- Syria said that any state was welcome to leave the conference if they where dissatisfied and that “no one will shed tears for their absence.” Under no circumstances, the delegate went on, would they accept the paragraphs 2, 53, 64 and 65 in their current form.