|Iran and Syria dominated the second day of the planning meeting for Durban II which is now taking place in Geneva. On day 2 of the week-long session, January 20th, Iran took the floor more often than any other single state. Iran's attempt to dominate Durban II planning, " says Anne Bayefsky, Editor of EYEontheUN, "is not surprising. They are a Vice-chair of the Durban Preparatory Committee and have long understood Durban II as the playing field of Islamic and Arab states." Both countries are actively shaping the outcome document of the Durban Review Conference, hailed by its supporters as an important international effort to address racism. "Today's meeting, dominated by these two rights-abhorring, terrorism-supporting countries, resulted in a circus that is a slap in the face to anyone serious about human rights and racism" said Bayefsky.|
By the end of day two the meeting had completed 9 out of 37 pages. The strategy of all those states who seek to bolster support for Durban II - particularly Arab and Islamic states and various African states such as South Africa - is to bury the real agenda under a mountain of UN verbiage and avoid getting to any issue of real importance. European governments admit (albeit behind-the-scenes) that the goal is to make it harder for them to walk out, since superficially there does not appear to be anything objectionable. What they're not saying is that efforts to keep a short-term lid on the Durban II hate-mongering until the conference itself, suits them just fine. The EU then avoids any pressure back home and the diplomats life is made a lot easier.
As a consequence of Iran and Syria's participation (with the help of Algeria, Nigeria, South Africa, Pakistan, and Egypt in particular) the following ensued on day 2:
In the hallways, European Union representatives admit that they do not expect this will be the end of the provisions adopted on Israel. They even defend such an outcome. Their argument is that language on the "Middle East" [a euphemism for criticizing Israel] will be included because the precedent was set at Durban I. Commented Professor Bayefsky, "in their minds evidently, two wrongs do make a right."
Sprinkled throughout the day was the following UN "anti-racism" conversation:
Chairperson: Is that acceptable to Syria?
The half-hour allotted at the end of the day for NGO contributions included the following two interventions:
BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
Nigeria requested the meeting adjourn at 5pm so that delegations could watch the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States. Said Professor Bayefsky, "hopefully this flattery will not blind Obama to the sheer hypocrisy of the Durban process, where the racists are running an "anti-racism" conference."