The price of Durban

At Eye on the UN, Anne Bayefsky has been following the plans for a second Durban-style hatefest. Anne has documented the original Durban atrocity that took place under the auspices of the UN in a video and slide show. She has set up a Durban Watch page. The thought the United States might help underwrite another such conference is sickening. In a message providing background and summarizing the current status of events, Anne writes:

The UN held a World Conference on racism in Durban, South Africa in August/September 2001. The Conference became a global platform for egregious forms of anti-Semitism and discrimination against Israel and the United States walked out of the conference in disgust (as did Israel and all Jewish NGOs from around the world). Ever since, the US has opposed a resolution on follow-up to the Durban Conference outcome document (which singles out Israel) in the General Assembly.
Last year the UN General Assembly decided to hold a Durban II conference- – formally a “Durban Review Conference” to take place in the first half of 2009. (The actual venue is as yet undetermined.) Already it has become very clear that the conference will again be appropriated by those promising to turn an anti-racism conference into a platform for racism. If anything, Durban II will be worse because it promises to deliver both Israel-bashing and hysterical allegations of Western Islamophobia with the U.S. cast as the primary perpetrator of anti-Muslim discrimination resulting from a phony war to combat terrorism. In this year’s GA the U.S. voted against the resolution(s) on “Durban follow-up” and the Durban Review Conference preparation. (The resolutions are called A/C.3/62/L.66 and A/C.3/62/L.65/Rev.1).
This year, for the first time, the U.S. was joined not only by Israel but by the EU, who are also upset by various dimensions of how the conference planning is playing out. They were all outvoted and the resolution was adopted.
Having been adopted, the resolution for the funding of the preparation of Durban II now moves to two different GA committees — first the ACABQ (which includes a U.S. member), and then the Fifth or Budget Committee. It is crucial that the U.S. now follow through with its opposition to the Durban Review Conference and the funding for it. This will require 3 steps:

1) signalling American opposition to the program budget implications of L.65/Rev.1 in the ACABQ,
2) calling for the vote in the Fifth Committee on those budget implications
3) voting against the financing resolution in the Fifth Committee.

UN etiquette normally dictates that the Fifth/Budget Committee operates by consensus, even though a vote on the merits of a resolution may have been lost in the preceding substantive committee. It will, therefore, require a degree of fortitude to maintain strong opposition to funding any part of Durban II from the UN regular budget. Nonetheless, such a statement of principle is extremely important.
The message must be sent that the UN was founded on equality of peoples and of nations, and on the defeat of racism, and our country will not tolerate the abuse of the UN as a platform for undermining that goal. Gross discrimination against Israel and anti-semitism are inconsistent with the UN Charter. America said no to Durban I. Consistently, America must not agree that the regular budget of the UN (and hence US tax dollars) are legitimately spent on a conference intended to “implement” Durban I — a conference bound to exacerbate racial and religious tensions — a Durban II.

I suggest that messages might best be sent to those who will determine how the United States will vote: United States Ambassador to the United Nations Zalman Khalilzad (fax: 212-415-4053) and to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (fax: 202-647-2283).
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