Geneva – Earlier today, the Durban Review Conference outcome document was adopted by consensus. This is highly unusual for U.N. conferences. Generally, they are designed to culminate with the adoption of the outcome document on the last day. Implausibly, the Durban II president declared that this was a triumph of engagement and chastised the countries that boycotted the conference.
In reality, it is a testament to the fear of U.N. officials and many member countries that, with President Ahmadinejad’s speech looming over the conference, things would only get worse the longer it went on. Adopting the text early minimizes chances that it will deteriorate and allowed the conference to be declared a success.
The rest of the week will be filled with countries making prepared statements and NGOs voicing their thoughts – all for essentially no real reason since the purpose of the conference has already been achieved.
Interestingly, however, the adoption of the outcome document has not led countries to tone down their comments. Quite the opposite in fact:
- Minutes after the adoption of the Durban outcome document, Yemen accused Israel of genocide.
- Sudan, complicit in massive human rights abuses perpetrated by Arab tribesmen against black African pastoralists in Darfur, claimed with a strait face to be opposed to all forms of racism and discrimination while simultaneously accusing Israel of conducting a racist military campaign in Gaza.
- Cuba stated that racism and racial discrimination is a “scourge [that] has a greater impact and impunity in the countries from the rich and industrialized North” that is facilitated by the Internet which enables a “freedom of incitement to hate, discrimination and violence” — acts that should be made “illegal and punished by law.” Reaching back in time, Cuba called for a “new international economic order” to ensure “solidarity and social justice”. In an, apparently, unintentionally ironic moment, Cuba claimed that “all Cubans, men and women, with no exception enjoy the same rights without discrimination of any kind.” One could say that they enjoy very few rights at all.
Although the clear intent of quickly wrapping up the debate on the Durban II outcome document was to end the embarrassment, it appears that Durban II is an endless font of controversy.