27 March 2009
27 March 2009
Letter of WJC President Lauder to UN Human Rights Commissioner
The president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. Lauder, has called for an explicit revocation at the forthcoming United Nations Durban Review Conference of those sections in the controversial 2001 Durban Declaration and Program of Action (DDPA) which stigmatize Israel as a racist state. In a letter addressed to UN Human Rights Commissioner Navanethem Pillay, Lauder warned of the dangers of a repeat of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa (nicknamed ‘Durban I’) at next month’s Review Conference in Geneva, which is organized by the UN Human Rights Council and Pillay.
He said that although the draft outcome document currently on the table represents some progress it explicitly endorses the recommendations of Durban I and thus reiterates that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dealt with in the context of racism. In the letter to Pillay, Lauder wrote: "We emphatically urge you to ensure that those parts of the DDPA which unfairly single out Israel for criticism are being revoked and not reaffirmed. Just as strongly, we urge you to ensure that the Durban Review Conference will truly address the scourge of racism by bringing the plights of the victims of racism and discrimination around the world to the attention of the United Nations so that their voices will finally be heard and their grievances addressed." The WJC president warned that another failure of the forum would undermine "the very integrity of the United Nations," and added: "A UN conference that will truly support and strengthen the battle against racism through the cooperation of nations would serve to honorably reinforce the purpose of the United Nations."
Lauder expressed his conviction that "a genuine conference on racism" must "shine the light on circumstances such as those surrounding the conflicts in Darfur and Rwanda, the discrimination of Bahai, Roma, Sinti, Dalits and other minorities, and the widespread abuse of women in many parts of the world" instead of unjustly stigmatizing Israel as a racist state and excessively focusing on the Middle East conflict "in the context of a meeting meant to deal with a completely different matter," namely racism. He welcomed the decision by Canada, Israel, Italy and the USA to withdraw from ‘Durban II’.
The World Jewish Congress is the international organization representing Jewish communities in 92 countries. Founded in Geneva in 1936, the WJC serves as the diplomatic arm of the Jewish people to governments and international organizations. The Durban Review Conference is to be held from 20-24 April 2009 in Geneva.
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