Durban clashes

Durban clashes
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The Preparatory Committee for the Durban Review Conference will hold a meeting at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in April to discuss the next World Conference Against Racism in 2009.

The first conference in Durban in 2001 saw the US and Israel withdraw their delegations halfway through accusing other groups of being biased towards the Jewish State and using language equating Zionism with racism.

An NGO forum during the conference approved a declaration comparing Israel with apartheid.

The Board has called for the date of the review to be changed to pave the way for representatives of the body to attend. The CST and Rene Cassin are also hoping to attend.

Board President Henry Grunwald wrote in a letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour: “We are very concerned to learn that the second meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the Durban Review Conference is to be held over the Jewish Festival of Passover. As you are aware, the Jewish communities of the world placed so much faith in the original Durban conference (2001), and attended in comparatively large numbers, only to be cruelly disappointed by the outcome. We wish to play a full role in the Review Conference.”

He added: “Many Jewish NGOs, as well as individual Jews, are very active in campaigning for human rights for all, as well as those of our fellow co-religionists. I therefore ask whether the date of the Conference can be moved to enable our representatives properly to participate.”

The UN’s Human Rights Council has been authorised to implement the decisions arising from the next meeting, appointing a 20-nation bureau chaired by Libya, vice-chaired by Cuba and including Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia, to carry out the planning.

Another Preparatory Committee meeting, called for October of this year, coincides with Yom Kippur.

In his letter, Grunwald said: “Please ensure that any future meetings are not held on dates that would cause similar problems.”

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