Between August 27-31 in Geneva, the UN Bureau for the Durban Preparatory Committee (Prep-Com) held its first conference in preparation for the 2009 follow-up to the 2001 World Conference Against Racism which took place in Durban, South Africa (Durban Conference). The Prepcom was led by well-known human rights abuser Libya, with Iran and Cuba also serving on the planning committee. The official mandate of the August 27-31 session was limited to reviewing follow-up from the Durban Conference. However, as UN Watch has reported , observers the Islamic bloc introduced new accusations against the U.S., Europe, and other Western nations, under the charge of "religious defamation." In addition, the conference included presentations by a number of NGO groups. The UN has released a list of NGOs that participated in conference, including radical NGOs Al-Haq, Human Rights Monitor – Iran, Adalah, and Ittijah. The International Islamic Relief Organization is also accredited to this conference (the IIRO’s Indonesia and Philippines branches were added to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals List for "facilitating fundraising for al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist.")
This preparatory conference has been met with significant debate and protest. NGO Monitor submitted a detailed report to the preparatory committee on the abuses from Durban 2001, and UN Watch and Eye on the UN published detailed critical reports. Op-eds condemning the conference appeared in the Boston Globe and Jerusalem Post. The Durban preparatory conference took place at the same time as another UN conference, the "International Conference of Civil Society in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace", was held in the European Parliament in Brussels, August 30-31. Both conferences provided a platform for radical anti-Israel NGOs to spread their rhetoric of demonization and intolerance. NGO Monitor is following these developments, and will continue to provide updates on activities leading up to the "Durban II" in 2009. More information is available on NGO Monitor’s Durban 2009 essentials page.