On June 5, 2009, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights held a “debriefing” meeting for NGOs, seeking “feedback” on the Durban Review Conference and strategies for implementation of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action (DDPA). While all Durban-accredited NGOs were invited, attendance was only likely for groups with an active presence in Geneva – the site of the meeting.
Representatives from pro-Palestinian organizations used this meeting to promote their politicized agenda (the NGO comments were recorded anonymously in the UN documents). According to the UN’s summary, “Palestinian NGOs were frustrated with regard to their role in the Durban Review Conference. Although explicitly mentioned as victims in the DDPA, Palestinians were not explicitly mentioned as victims in the Outcome Document [of the Review Conference].” This echoes complaints by “right of return” NGO Badil that the UN “banned side events examining the Israeli regime at the official Durban Review Conference,” highlighting the successful marginalization of radical anti-Israel NGOs in April 2009.
A speaker also “commended” the reference to “foreign occupation,” applauding the condemnation of Israel in the Outcome Document. Additionally, proponents of the “Civil Society Forum” – a small coalition that met before the Review Conference, and not an official NGO Forum – defended their declaration as “constructive” (excerpt: “We are appalled by the ongoing atrocities, extreme forms of institutionalised discrimination and racist colonialist practices”)and proposed a special meeting with UN officials.