A version of this article appears in The New York Daily News, Thursday, April 16, 2009.
The UN’s idea of an anti-racism conference entered the final stretch today with the planning committee deciding Iran ought to preside as a Vice-Chair, Libya will serve as the Chair of the “Main Committee” running the conference and Cuba will be the Rapporteur. All three human rights paragons will assume their new duties on the first day of “Durban II” set for Monday, April 20th.
Although the flowers are blooming by Lake Geneva, these Durban II preparations are best described as a massive snow job. The UN had set aside three days this week to hammer out a final document to be adopted formally at the conference itself. But Libyan Chair Najat Al-Hajjaji adjourned the meeting half an hour after it began – despite the fact that half of the 142-paragraph draft manifesto has not yet been agreed.
Al-Hajjaji is serving as the front for the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) . Her not-so-hidden agenda is shared by the Secretary-General of Durban II, UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay. For Pillay, a native of Durban, South Africa, the Durban Declaration’s stature is of biblical proportion. Sitting at the podium side-by-side, Al-Hajjaji and Pillay’s strategy became painfully obvious to the hundreds of assembled diplomats and NGO representatives who thought they had came to talk about combating racism.
Their maneuver had two main elements. First, run out the clock. By adjourning rapidly, and probably for most of the next two days, the conference will be bound to start on Monday with the European Union at the table and the threat of a democratic pull-out gone. All UN diplomats are well aware of the fact that the EU will agree to just about anything when faced with the spectacle of a “failed” UN conference. EU members don’t have the numbers to prevail at the UN if a vote is called and therefore feign consensus instead of appearing to be “losers” to the folks back home. They are also fond of the UN as a means to outweigh the United States 27-1. And EU states wilt at the prospect of being labeled former colonial racists (by racists from the developing world.)
The second Al-Hajjaji-Pillay/OIC-UN move is to keep all disagreements behind closed doors as long as possible. This way, the damage done to combating racism in the backroom negotiations will be in the form of indecipherable ambiguous UN-eze by the time it is a done deal.
When Al-Hajjaji clocked out 30 minutes after showing up for work, she asked delegates to pick up a new draft of the “Durban II Outcome Document” on their way out the door. Little wonder she wanted no opportunity for public discussion. Here is what can be found in the latest draft of the UN’s new “anti-racism” bible:
Silencing public commentary on the abomination was not the only thing the OIC-UN nexus accomplished in the space of thirty minutes. Also quickly gaveled without comment was approval of 81 NGOs to participate in Durban II. Included among these illustrious “human rights” partners:
Other countries that might stay out, together with Canada and Israel, include Australia, Italy and the Netherlands. Australia has had a wet-finger in the wind for months. Italy is not participating at the moment and doesn’t have any reason to go back with this latest travesty. And Dutch efforts to improve the outcome document have been treated with disdain. Still the Germans and French are pressing hard for a show of EU solidarity – the merits of Durban II and all those faux-“red-lines” they once espoused be damned.
On Monday, April 20th, the anniversary of Hitler’s birth, an Iranian will be elected as a Vice-chair of a global “anti-racism” conference. In the afternoon of opening day, a genocidal Holocaust denier – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – will address a UN conference “against” racism. The European Union will sit and listen to an antisemite give a lecture about combating intolerance. And in the end most UN states will adopt a document incompatible with the UN’s foundational principle of the equality of all men and women and nations large and small.
A good day for UN-based antisemites. A bad day for those who care about human rights.