Prof. Gerald Steinberg at the UN Human Rights Council


The September 2001 Durban conference ostensibly held to mark the end of apartheid and launch the effort to eliminate discrimination and racism in all of its manifestations, was turned into an infamous platform for hate and antisemitism. Denunciations, including from Prof. Irwin Cotler, Mary Robinson (who, as Human Rights Commissioner, presided over this event) and the late US Congressman Tom Lantos continue to reverberate.

The Durban agenda and the singling out of one country continue apace, particularly among many powerful NGOs that claim to be the protectors of human rights and universal principles, including some that spoke under the infamous Item 7 earlier today. The Durban NGO Forum, including the final declaration embody this antisemitism and the leaders of this community, many of whom participated, repeat the slogans and myths in their ongoing campaigns. The funders of these NGOs, including many governments, particularly in Europe, share responsibility for these basic moral violations that has done immeasurable damage to the credibility and reputation of the human rights community.

In the past 16 years, the state of human rights in the world has deteriorated further, highlighting the failures of these institutions.

There is no room for antisemitism and hate in any form within human rights frameworks, and the recent attempt by the Special Rapporteur “on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory” to include a virulent antisemite under the category of a “human rights defender” is a case in point. We also commend the actions of the Commissioner in clearly and immediately rejecting this action.

Thank you Mr. President