The 2009 WCAR dismissal of Palestine

Written by Nora Barrows-Friedman

Published 16th April 2009

Source: IPS


The Durban Anti-Racism Review Conference in Geneva to be held on Monday will not address any discussion on Israel’s actions in Palestine as this has been deliberately eliminated from the official programme, which has been structured by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR).

This conference is a follow-up to the 2001 World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) in Durban, South Africa, that outlined an international legal and political concept to deal with global issues of race and human rights.

The Durban Review Conference website states that the 2009 Geneva symposium is designed to “review progress and assess the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA).” Adopted by general consensus at the 2001 WCAR in Durban, “the DDPA is a comprehensive, action-oriented document that proposes concrete measures to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. It is holistic in its vision, addresses a wide range of issues, and contains far- reaching recommendations and practical measures.”

However, it will not address Palestinian issues. On April the 3rd, less than three weeks before the Durban Review Conference, the UN High Commissioner’s office verbally informed that all side-events pertaining to the specific issue of Palestine and Israel had been banned.

Civil society groups believe that the United States, countries within the European Union and Israel pressured the UN to omit a review of Israel’s racial discrimination against Palestinians.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration appears to have decided not to attend the Durban Review conference. In 2001, the United States representatives walked out of the first Durban conference when Zionism was defined as racism against Palestinians.

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