The UN originally intended to organize major regional meetings around the world in advance of the Durban Review Conference, set for April in Geneva. In the end, however, it seems there will be no Asian, West or East European conferences.
The UN had spoken of an Asian meeting in September in Bangkok but it seems that won’t happen. Instead, the Asian ambassadors in Geneva are reportedly preparing their own “outcome document” — see report below from Sri Lanka, which will facilitate drafting of the text– to feed into the final declaration in April. Such texts are called “outcome documents” for being the outcome of a particular conference. Yet now we will an outcome without there ever having been a conference.
Sounds odd, but in a way it’s more honest: the African declaration was all cooked up in Geneva beforehand, with the brief meeting in Abuja, mostly held behind closed doors, entirely dominated by Geneva-based diplomats and UN officials, who flew in to Nigeria merely to create the pretense of holding an African event.
If you thought the African text was bad — it failed to hold a single African country accountable for performance on racism, thereby failing the stated mission of the conference — the Asian one threatens to be worse. Recall that in 2001, after meeting in Tehran, the Asian outcome document singled out Israel for “ethnic cleansing” and of a “new kind of apartheid, a crime against humanity.”
News report from pro-government Sri Lankan newspaper:
Run-Up to UN Anti-Racism Conference
Upon recommendation by the Ambassador/Permanent Representative of China, the Asian Group Co-ordinator, the Asian Group of the United Nations Human Rights Council has appointed Sri Lanka’s Ambassador Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka as the facilitator to negotiate an outcome document of the Asian Region, as a contribution to the preparatory process of the Durban Review Conference.
The World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance was held in Durban, South Africa in 2001 and produced the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, which provided an important new framework for combating racism and intolerance with a wide range of action-oriented measures.
The Review Conference of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action has been scheduled to be held in Geneva, Switzerland from 20-24 April 2009 to evaluate progress towards the goals set by the 2001 World Conference. For this purpose Regional Groups are requested to contribute by providing inputs to the above Review Conference.
Against this backdrop Ambassador Jayatilleka has been appointed as Facilitator by the Asian Group to negotiate an outcome document of the Asian Region in order to provide inputs from the Asian Region to the above Review Conference.
Latin America and African Regions already had their Regional Meetings in Brasilia and Abuja respectively and have prepared their inputs to the above Review Conference.