Pressure group urges scrapping of UN racism declaration

UN Watch in the News

Agence France Presse
January 5, 2009

A Geneva-based pressure group called Monday on United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UN human rights chief Navi Pillay to throw out a proposed declaration on racism planned for April.

The declaration “restricts free speech, prohibits expression deemed offensive to Islamic sensitivies, and portrays counter-terrorism efforts by the United States, Western states and Israel as essentially ‘racist’,” UN Watch said.

UN Watch [is] as a non-governmental organisation whose mandate is to monitor the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own Charter.

The UN plans to hold a five day conference on racism in Geneva from April 20 to-24, known as Durban II, seven years after an acrimonious meeting in Durban in South Africa which ended with charges of anti-semitism.

“With Moamer Kadhafi’s Libya chairing the planning committee, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran as vice-chair, it’s heart-wrenching though not surprising that Durban II is hijacking the noble cause of human rights and anti-racism, with the aim of legitimising an agenda of hate and extremism that targets innocents in Mumbai, Madrid, Israel, and elsewhere,” said UN Watch, which is affilated to the American Jewish Committee.

“Just like in 2001, the proposed declaration veers off its mandate in order to single out Israel for opprobrium, and more generally indicts Western democracies,” said the group’s executive director Hillel Neuer.

“But it’s actually worse than 2001, because now Islamic states have inserted language seeking to delegitimise counter-terrorism efforts as racist, and to censor free speech in order to prevent what they call the ‘defamation of Islam’.

“As the most vocal defender of the Durban II process … UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has a moral obligation now to protest and push back,” said Neuer.

Canada, Israel and the United States have already said they will boycott the conference.

Copyright 2009, Agence France Presse.

UN Watch