Geneva, May 14, 2008 — The British government told parliament that it is considering pulling out from a UN conference on racism if it replays the acrimonious anti-Semitism of the 2001 precursor held in Durban, South Africa.
“With Iran’s Ahmadinejad calling to destroy the Jewish state at the same time as he serves on the Durban II planning committee headed by Libya’s Qaddafi, Britain and other leading democracies are right to be both concerned and vigilant,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights monitoring organization.
Speaking in the British parliament yesterday, U.K. Minister for Europe Jim Murphy said “there should be no repeat of the disgraceful anti-Semitism that blighted events surrounding the 2001 world conference against racism.”
He spoke on behalf of the Brown government in response to questions posed by MPs John Mann and Tim Boswell, both active on a committee against anti-Semitism.
Murphy said that the U.K. “will continue to work to make sure that the conference is a success, but we will play no part in an international conference that exhibits the degree of anti-Semitism that was disgracefully on view on the previous occasion.”
Echoing warnings made earlier this year by France’s President Nicholas Sarkozy, Murphy raised the possibility of a British walk-out.
“If it gets to a point that we come to the view that the conference cannot be a success, the option of withdrawal from the conference remains available to us.”
According to Neuer, “it was only thanks to serious and credible warnings of this kind that the April meeting of the Durban II committee was tamer than expected—and even then we witnessed the singling-out of a Canadian NGO because it was Jewish, along with vituperative attacks by Syria and other Islamic states against free speech and the values of liberal democracy.”
According to Neuer, “it was only thanks to serious and credible warnings of this kind that the recent session of the Durban II committee was less inflammatory than usual — and even then, we witnessed the singling-out of a Canadian NGO for the sole reason that it was Jewish, along with vituperative attacks by Syria and other Islamic states against free speech and the values of liberal democracy.”
London’s threat to the Durban II planners carried added credibility after its recent walk-out from a separate UN session that also involved Libya.
In the Security Council last month, Libya’s comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany led Britain, the United States, France and others to walk out, a rare protest by members of the UN’s most powerful body against one of their own members.
- Parliament transcript: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmhansrd/cm080513/debtext/80513-0001.htm#08051353000818
- For more on the 2009 Durban Review Conference, see http://blog.unwatch.org/?cat=3