Geneva, March 12, 2009 — UN Watch applauded Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen for announcing that this Monday he will call on European Union states to withdraw from the Durban II conference, or else withdraw unilaterally.
“The document is unacceptable,” said Foreign Minister Verhagen today at an appearance before the foreign affairs committee of the Dutch parliament, held in preparation of the upcoming meeting of E.U. foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday.
“My red lines are: religion is misused to stand above individual rights. There should be no excuse in the text to condone violence against homosexuals, anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing,” said Verhagen.
“I am actively involved in the matter. There will be no compromises regarding principles. I am aiming for a joint withdrawal of all EU ministers, unless the document is not changed. If this does not succeed, then I am not afraid to unilaterally withdraw from Durban,” said Verhagen. “Principles come first.”
UN Watch obtained a translated transcript of his remarks from Dutch sources.
“As President Obama recently determined, the Durban II conference—where the world’s most intolerant regimes seek to indict the world’s most tolerant democracies—is only going from bad to worse,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, a non-governmental human right rights monitoring group.
“With Iran and Cuba on the planning committee, it’s no surprise that the conference is being used to legitimize human rights abusers, while ignoring millions of victims of racism and discrimination around the world,” said Neuer. “It’s tragic and inexcusable that the U.N. is squandering a golden opportunity to help victims, and is instead letting down the most vulnerable.”
“Blacks subjected to genocide in Darfur, women treated as chattel in Saudi Arabia, gays executed in Iran, Tibetans oppressed in China—none of these victims are mentioned anywhere in the proposed Durban II declaration. As a growing number of democracies now realize, the Libyan-chaired Durban II conference is essentially a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini announced last week that his country would no longer participate due to “aggressive and anti-Semitic statements” in the conference’s draft final document.