On January 19-23, 2009, an intersessional meeting of the Durban Review Conference convened to discuss the outcome document. The head of the Human Rights Treaties branch of the OHCHR, Ibrahim Salama, explained that funds are lacking for among other things, “empowerment and participation of NGOs.” Despite this financial concern, UN officials continue to encourage NGO participation, including providing travel support for NGO representatives. Indeed, UN Watch reported that an NGO Forum is still a possibility.
On January 20, NGOs were invited to speak. Badil, a Palestinian NGO that promotes the “Right of Return,” stated:
“Palestinians have been subjected to an unlawful collective punishment, torture, economic blockade, severe restriction of movement and arbitrary closure to their territories. …the draft declaration is silent as to … sanctions in the context of the Palestinian people. Palestinian people were omitted from the list of victims of racial discrimination. … in line with atrocities taking place in Gaza.”
This is indicative of the attempt being made by certain NGOs to capitalize on the Gaza war and bring it to the fore of the Durban Review Conference.
Additionally, a coalition of “human rights, anti-racism and pro-democracy” groups announced a parallel event to the Conference. Entitled the “
,” the full-day conference will be held on April 19, 2009 and hopes to affect the world human rights agenda. Freedom House, UN Watch, and LICRA are members of the coalition organizing this project