Anti-racism report adopted despite 'disinformation' campaign – UN rights chief

24 April 2009

At the close of the Durban Review conference, 182 countries were able to come together on an anti-racism report despite a highly-organized “campaign of disinformation” the United Nations human rights chief said today.

At the close of the Durban Review Conference, 182 countries were able to come together on an anti-racism report despite a highly-organized “campaign of disinformation” the United Nations human rights chief said today.

The draft outcome adopted by consensus this Tuesday is a “good document,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said as the gathering, assessing progress on the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA), wrapped up in Geneva.

As for those levelling accusations that the 2001 document is anti-Semitic, it is “clear that either they had not bothered to read what it actually said, or they were putting a cast on it that was, to say the least, decidedly exaggerated,” she said, stressing that it includes a paragraph which says that “the Holocaust should never be forgotten,” a sentiment reiterated in the final document of the Conference which ended today.

Ms. Pillay, who cited numerous personal attacks against her in the media, countered arguments that the five-day Conference that ended today was a “hate fest,” calling the characterization a “hyperbole” and a “gross exaggeration.”

She stressed that although the gathering was a “strange rough-and-tumble affair full of smoke and mirrors,” it was still “very definitely a success story.”

Several countries, even after agreeing to the draft outcome last week, pulled out of the Conference just before its start, including the United States. “I do hope they will come back into the process now,” the High Commissioner said.

She noted that even Iran, whose leader made remarks at the start of the event that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said were intended to “accuse, divide and even incite,” joined the consensus in adopting the text, which emphasizes the need to address all manifestations of intolerance with greater resolve.

Ms. Pillay hailed the regional and political groups for making concessions regarding the outcome document, noting, for example, that the Arab countries accepted that neither Palestine nor the Middle East are mentioned in the text.

Welcoming the adoption of the text on Tuesday, the second day of the gathering, she said it contains valuable elements, calling on States to take effective, tangible and comprehensive measures to prevent, combat and eradicate all forms and manifestations of racism, and urging countries which have not yet done so to create and implement national plans to combat intolerance.

Further, it highlights the increased suffering since 2001 of many different groups of victims of racism and reaffirms the positive role of the freedom of expression while deploring derogatory stigmatization of people based on their religion.

 

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UN anti-racism conference winds down amid NGO expulsions for bad behaviour

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