Durban II


Quick Facts About Durban II

Background to Durban I

Official name: World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa: 31 August – 7 September 2001

Consisted of 3 Events:
1. The Official Conference
2. NGO Youth Summit
3. NGO Forum

Instead of making a strong consensus statement on the evils of racism, it focused on the alleged racism of Israel.

What Happened?

* Anti-Semitic and anti-Israel banners
* T-shirts and printed material distributed
* Jewish Holocaust Survivors not allowed to present in the Victims of Racism Section
* Israel vilified and delegitimized in numerous Country Statements

Israel and the United States walked out. As a result, the Declaration of Program Action was eventually cleansed of some of the worst language but the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was the only regional conflict mentioned in the document with ‘the plight of the Palestinians’ listed in the section entitled Victims of Racism.

“Durban II”

Official name: Durban Review Conference in Geneva, Switzerland: 20-24 April 2009

What is Durban II?
* An evaluation of progress achieved since 2001 in combating racism
* An examination of subsequent steps to be undertaken
Note: States were to report on progress in reducing racism and racial discrimination – NOT to be a second World Conference Against Racism, therefore NO new agenda items were to be introduced.

The formation of a Preparatory Committee or “Prep Com” includes the following countries:
Chair – Libya
Vice Chairs – Iran and Cuba
Committee – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Russia, South Africa

Note: All of the prepcom meetings have been held on Jewish Holidays or Shabbat, thereby excluding many Jewish NGOs and individuals from attending.
Note: Durban II is opening on Yom Hashoah but there will be no official commemoration.

The “precom” have created an Outcomes Document. As it stands, the document contains condemnation and delegitimisation of Israel but there is no mention of global racist abuses in: Sudan (Darfur), The Congo, Chad, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Angola, Georgia, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka (Tamils), Burma or Tibet.

The Holocaust is not mentioned but is does include a passage making criticism of Islam a criminal act.

Red Lines:
France and the EU have drawn “Red Lines” which much not be crossed by Durban II. They include:
* Singling out or demonising any one state
* Reintroducing “Zionism is Racism” at the UN
* Criminalising the defamation of religion / curtailing free speech
* Deleting / downgrading the condemnation of anti-Semitism / equating with Islamophobia
* Removing calls for Holocaust commemoration
* Constructing a hierarchy of racism which downgrades or ignores racial discrimination and human rights abuses.

Others say that the West CANNOT accept a text which crosses the following four “Red Lines”:
1. Places religion above individuals
2. Fails to condemn discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation
3. fails to condemn anti-Semitism
4. Equates Zionism with racism

Not Attending

United States
New Zealand


Britain – with no high level officials
Sweden – with no high level officials
Iran- President Ahmedinejad will be the highest ranked official from any country


Durban ReviewNEW
Preparing for Durban II – UN Watch
Durban Watch – Eye on the UN
Durban Review 2009 – NGO Monitor


> Statement from Foreign Minister Stephen Smith – 19 April 2009
> Statement from Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni – 19 November 2008

Articles of Interest:

Australia to boycott UN anti-racism conference
The Australian, April 19, 2009

AUSTRALIA will not take part in a controversial United Nations anti-racism conference in Geneva this week.

The Federal Government’s decision to boycott the Durban Review conference was prompted by the outcome of the original event in 2001, which was marred by claims of anti-Semitism.

Read more

U.S. will boycott U.N. conference on racism
Reuters, Sat Apr 18, 2009
By Laura MacInnis and Sue Pleming

GENEVA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States will boycott a United Nations conference on racism next week, the U.S. State Department said on Saturday, citing objectionable language in the meeting’s draft declaration.

The United Nations organized the forum in Geneva to help heal the wounds from the last such meeting, in Durban, South Africa. The United States and Israel walked out of that 2001 conference when Arab states tried to define Zionism as racist.

Read more

Boycott this hatefest
The Herald Sun, 13 March 2009
Andrew Bolt

WHY on earth is the Rudd Government going to a festival of hate against Israel and the West?

Actually, it’s not hard to work out why the Government won’t join a boycott by other democracies of next month’s United Nations bizarre conference on “racism”.

You see, the Prime Minister is desperate to win the cheap votes of African and Muslim nations in his bid for a temporary seat at the United Nations Security Council, where we would join great powers such as Burkina Faso, Libya, Costa Rica and Croatia.

Read more

A price too high to pay
The Australian, 7 March 2009
Greg Sheridan

AUSTRALIAN foreign policy is in danger of being seriously distorted by our bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2013-14.

In some ways it is impossible to prove that our foreign policy is being distorted by this bid. But the circumstantial evidence is mounting.

Exhibit No1 is the continued indecision of the Rudd Government about whether to attend the UN anti-racism conference, officially titled the Durban Review Conference, to be held in Geneva in late April. This meeting is commonly called Durban II. Durban I was notoriously one of the most disgraceful and counter-productive official international gatherings ever held. Instead of making a strong consensus statement on the evil of racism, the conference focused obsessively on the alleged racism of Israel.

Read more


> Update – 21 April 2009
> Special Alert – 19 April 2009
> Update – 6 March 2009
> Update – 23 February 2009
> Update – 21 November 2008