NGO representatives expressed disappointment and alienation regarding NGO participation in the Durban Review Conference. Speakers complained that their attendance at the conference was irrelevant and futile. The Outcome Document was adopted before the NGOs had the opportunity to address the plenary. These groups were only permitted to participate in the general debate on the last agenda item. UN staff explained that NGO influence was important for implementation and follow-up. The interaction between the UN and NGOs highlights the latters ambiguous status in the UN framework and the questions about whom they represent.
Using subterfuge, a number of radical NGOs have announced a civil society forum. The objective is to emulate the infamous 2001 Durban NGO Forum, which was characterized by antisemitic violence, and the demonization and delegitimization of Israel. A large public demonstration with activists is planned for Saturday afternoon. The Civil Society Forum is closely linked to the Israel Review Conference, to promote anti-Israel boycotts. In contrast to the Durban event, the 2009 civil society forum in Geneva does not have official UN support.