Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Durban III

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This year's Durban III Conference also known as "World Conference Against Racism" held on 22 September in New York has lived up to expectations by promoting antisemitism and anti-Zionism.

The participants at the conference voted on a political statement affirming the declarations of the original Durban forum, in which Palestinians were labelled as "victims of racism".

In addition, a key speaker was Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, who spoke about the "human rights violations perpetrated by the Zionist regime" against the Palestinians.

Durban III was boycotted by major democracies for its antisemitic and anti-Zionist agenda including: Australia, Israel, the USA, Canada, Holland, the Czech Republic, Italy, New Zealand, Germany, Bulgaria, Austria, Britain, France and Poland.

Speaking at Durban III UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also recognised that the Durban conference objectives had been derailed when he stated:

"We are all aware that the original Durban conference and its follow-up two years ago caused immense controversy.... We should condemn anyone who uses this platform to subvert that effort with inflammatory rhetoric, baseless assertions and hateful speech. Our common commitment must be to focus on the real problems of racism and intolerance".

While the Durban III conference was undermined by the boycott of major democracies, nevertheless, its resolutions promote the demonisation and delegitmisation of Israel that may be used to further isolate Israel in UN agencies and international arenas. As NGO Monitor stated:

"While Durban III has come and gone, ‘mini Durban' conferences continue, along with the continued isolation of Israel in international arenas, such as the UN Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court."

Durban III marked the 10th anniversary of the first Durban conference that took place in Durban, South Africa, which promoted antisemitism and anti-Zionism. This was repeated at the Durban II conference held in 2009 in Geneva, where Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a key speaker and denied the Holocaust.

To coincide with Durban III, several groups staged counter events. The Hudson Institute held a gathering near the UN building, titled, "The Perils of Global Intolerance: The United Nations and Durban III". UN Watch, which was established to counter the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, also held an alternative event in front of the UN headquarters.

UN Watch director Hillel Neuer stated:

"We presented the most famous victims of the Iranians, Syrians, Sudanese, Chinese, North Koreans who have been incarcerated, repressed and subjected to torture, and provided them with a worldwide stage to hear their voices".

The boycotts by major democracies should send a strong message that the UN platform should not be misused and abused, and it is to be hoped that if there is a Durban IV it will repudiate the vile antisemitism, and anti-zionism promoted in the previous Durban conferences and instead focus on real issues of global racism.


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