Durban 2009 NGO Update: Pressing for another disastrous NGO Forum
The second substantive Preparatory Session for the Durban Review Conference was held in Geneva from October 6-17, 2008. Government delegates and NGO representatives debated the draft outcome document, the possibility of another NGO Forum, and other issues.
A number of NGO officials spoke at the formal PrepCom sessions. Some, such as BADIL and the Paris-based Movement Against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples (MRAP), continued the previous anti-Israel demonization. A group calling itself Independent Jewish Voices, which was not accredited but spoke in place of EAFORD, made the absurd claim that the first NGO Forum was not marked by antisemitism. In contrast, other NGOs, such as Magenta, Human Rights First, and the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism provided a counterweight to these attacks.
The discussion of whether to hold an NGO Forum did not result in a decision on this issue. On October 14, 2008, NGO Monitor sent an open letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon calling on him to “avoid providing official sponsorship or funding for another NGO Forum that is likely to be a venue used to promote hatred and antisemitism” and “would further undermine universal human rights principles in the framework of the 2009 Review Conference. ” Similar letters were published by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the American Jewish Committee. At the Prepcom, unofficial meetings of a few NGOs promoting the Forum included antisemitic and anti-Israel attacks against Jewish representatives. Charles Graves (Interfaith International) chaired the meeting, repeating the myth that the 2001 NGO event was antisemitic. Claiming that the UN would provide them with facilities, they appointed regional coordinating committees to advance the prospects of an NGO Forum.