NGO Monitor has contacted the embassies of EU member states, as well as Switzerland and Norway, requesting information on their policy towards the UN Durban Review Conference scheduled for 2009. Specifically, NGO Monitor asked whether these governments had defined principles required of NGO grant-recipients regarding participation in the Durban Review Conference, and what lessons were learned from 2001.
Various governments have already made public statements expressing their concern over the Review Conference.
On January 23, 2008, the Canadian government announced that it would pull out of the conference and maintained that it will not fund NGO participation, marking a major change in comparison to the 2001 policies.
On February 15, 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said “France will not allow a repetition of the excesses and abuses of 2001…I say to you: if ever our legitimate demands are not taken into account, we will disengage from the [Durban Review Conference] process."
On April 6, 2008, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, said that "[W]e will not participate [in Durban Review Conference] unless it is proven that the conference will not be used as a platform for anti-Semitic behavior." He also noted that the U.S. voted against U.N. resolutions seeking to convene a Durban Review Conference in 2009 because “we [the US government does] not believe there will be a meaningful review of any of the problematic aspects of the original Durban Conference.”
As seen below, many of the preliminary responses that NGO Monitor received from European governments were vague and did not answer the questions. Follow-up requests have been sent.
Extracts from some of the preliminary responses:
- Austria: “…there has not been any funding for Austrian or international NGOs at the Durban I Conference in 2001, apart from including a few representatives as part of the Austrian delegation…In the same vain, for Durban II in 2009 it is not planned to support the participation of NGOs financially.” [click here for full text of Austria’s response]
- Britain: "The British Government believes that it is vital to avoid the disgraceful anti-Semitism that occurred at the time of the 2001 World Conference against Racism. … We want the 2009 Durban Review Conference to contribute to the global fight against racism and anti-Semitism….we are trying to influence the outcome from a position of engagement."
- Finland: “[T]he Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland has not witnessed anti-Semitic behavior by the Finnish NGO’s. In the Durban 2001 Forum, the UN Association of Finland refused to support the NGO-statement for the reason that anti-Semitism was not condemned in the statement.”
- Switzerland: “The goal of the Durban II conference should be an evaluation of the progress achieved since 2001 in the combat against racism as well as an examination of subsequent steps to be undertaken.”
- Sweden:; “Sweden wishes to see a Review Conference that is as operational and concrete as possible, keeping a clear focus on how States have implemented the recommendations of the Durban Declaration and Plan of Action, agreed in 2001”. “…[A]ny expression or manifestation of anti-Semitism as totally unacceptable. This position will be reflected in the Government’s preparations for the Review Conference at the national level.”
The following governments had replied as of 13 April 2008 (this includes embassies which informed NGO Monitor they are awaiting responses from their Ministry of Foreign Affairs):
- Czech Republic
- United Kingdom
The following governments have not responded to NGO Monitor as of 13 April 2008:
For more information on the Durban Review Conference, including coverage of the April Preparatory Committee, click here