Can the United States fix Durban II?

February 18, 2009

The United States has decided to participate in planning meetings for the United Nations Conference on Racism in April in order to influence its final declaration. The conference, a follow-up to the 2001 meeting in South Africa that the U.S. and Israel walked out on because the draft declaration called Israel racist (that language was later dropped). Israel and Canada have already announced they would boycott “Durban II,” as the conference is being called, and the Bush administration was opposed to the conference. But the Obama administration has decided to wade into the debate in the hopes of getting a better result.

(Photo: United Nations General Assembly, 26 Sept 2008/Eric Thayer)

Apart from the expected criticism of Israel, this conference in Geneva is also due to be a showplace for a drive by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to have the U.N. condemn defamation of religion. The U.N. General Assembly voted for just such a condemnation last December, for the fourth year running. While the non-binding resolution urged member states to provide “adaquate protection against acts of hatred, discrumination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation of religions and incitement to religious hatred in general,” the only religion it mentioned by name was Islam. Western countries opposed that resolution as contrary to the basic rights of free expression and opinion.

In statements in December, the freedom of expression rapporteurs of the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) have called on the United Nations not to issue any such resolution.

President Barack Obama wants to reach out to Muslims and foster better relations between Washington and the Muslim world.  Should he show this by softening the U.S. stand on defamation of religions?

(Photo: Saudi women pose with Obama cutout in Jeddah, 6 Nov 2008/Susan Baaghil)

UPDATE: The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that “the U.S. State Department set off alarm bells Sunday in the Jewish community by announcing that it would be taking part in consultations this week ahead of the conference” and the administration held a conference call with Jewish leaders to discuss the issue.  Read the full story here.


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My question is, why are they only focusing on Islam? Why not Christianity too? This seems to be always the case and I am tired of hearing, how Islamics are always being discriminated against. Anytime you talk bad about Islam, they riot and protest. Christians are persecuted all the time and that is never mentioned in the media. I believe, that the government is going to sell us down the river and this will only be the beginning of the “Racisim” card being played.

Posted by Paul Bradley | Report as abusive

People are persecuted around the world for all sorts of ridiculous reasons. Instead of focusing on just one, why not oppose all? No one should be persecuted for any reason whatsoever.

But persecution is not the same as “defamation”. Women in some countries are tortured to death for being raped. Children are killed for being members of certain religions or being born from a certain family or being born a certain race or gender. That is physical harm and is absolutely wrong. But defamation, just calling people bad words, or writing mean things about them in publications? What is this, the International Parent Teacher Association? How is this a concern for anyone other than school children? I ask this in all seriousness, because I do not understand why anyone other than school children on the playground would care what other people say about them.

Instead of working on resolutions that suggest that people shouldn’t say mean things to eachother, why not stop the genocide in Darfur? Why not stop the Israel/Palestine conflict? These are real contentions involving predjudice, and they are really killing people. That is important! I think everyone of all faiths can see that.

Posted by chris | Report as abusive

Paul, when Christian extremist Eric Rudolf bombed abortion clinics and the Olympic Park in Atlanta there was not a huge backlash against Christians in the US. However when misguided Muslims attacked the WTC and Pentagon there was a huge rise in the cases of racial crimes against Muslims. Extremist governments and organizations have given a bad name to peace loving Islamic people all over the world, which is the vast majority of them.
Interesting that you use the term “sell us down the river” when saying that the government will play the racism card. Are you aware of the origin of that phrase?
It comes from slavery here in the US. When a plantation had a problem with a slave, like that person wanting to be free, they were often “sold down the river” into the deeper south where conditions and treatment of slaves was often worse.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

I knew he would try to avoid the real reason he is suppose to be in the office and who he is representing and it is not his people but WE THE PEOPLE as in the UNITED STATES …CITIZENS not illegals and not minority issues he is a jerk and a lover of the involvement of his middle east
mind set. We the people respect the mind set of one nation under OUR GOD and our policies not the beliefs of the middle east culture they can all live under.Stop bailing out those people who are a part/create the problems.OUR president and the Clinton’s stink as public servants,they don’t stir up more crap then solution and are only in it for their on political causes. Help AMERICANS,THERE ARE NO MINORITIES IN WE THE PEOPLE WE ARE ALL A ETHNIC MIX. I have blue eyes and blonde hair and I am always racially profiled by dark haired and dark eyed persons for their fear of my profile of being superior.And the fact that I do not speak spanish I can not get first option jobs .This nation and DANIEL WEBSTERS the writer of our dictionary that was created for us to have a common language was English.All American are under the language for daily usage of one language not six. That is why we tax payers pay for bi-lingual programs why not pay for quad-lingual.My parents taught me English not ITALIAN,or Hungarian so I could conduct myself as a part of the system .Thanks to BILL CLINTON AND HIS nafta act of opening our borders for trade we have are flood gates open to terrorist and other country’s problems of Health,economy,and criminals.I do not think we need open relations with Islams let their country handle their own ,charity belongs at home let them bail us out or let them pay us back with the money we have bailed them out with.START FIXING USA. TO BE A PRESIDENT IS TO BE OUR FATHER SO

Posted by cathyholtz | Report as abusive

nice presentation speech eric h,are you going to run for office in the near future?little bit nasty america,american oppression etc,nice balance eric.but the truest words in the dialog were” misguided muslims”thats the problem,they are being misguided from about 3 years old to murder infidels particularly the big satan ones.perhaps we could send some of our liberal teachers over there to teach them sex education and alternative lifestyles,which seems to so extremely important in the development of our children at that age.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Brian, the majority of Muslims are taught the true message of the Koran, which has the same central message as the Bible or the Torah. It is a very small faction that believe in a jihad against non-Muslims. Just like the small faction of Christians who turn to violence. Don’t lump all Muslims into one easy to hate group, it’s not that simple. Kind of like thinking that “liberals” who disagree with you are all the same and think the same thoughts.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

sorry eric h i can,t agree with you about the stats in your posting,because i have never heard any moderate muslims speaking against jihad. the only time i hear about the millions of moderate muslims ,is from people like yourself. where are all these muslims at, in the punjab? the guy who cut his wifes head off, up in your neck of the woods,apparently he was ceo of a production company thats mission was to high light that there are moderate muslims out there. the politically correctness is growing out of your ears eric.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Eric, please do yourself justice and read the Koran and the Bible. You will see clearly that the Koran teaches killing by the sword those who don’t accept Muhammad as their Prophet. Jesus never said killing is justifable, this includes babies in the womb. Study the history of the Islam religion and you will see the path of destruction. Check out Islam nations and comprehend the
extreme laws. DurbanII is designed to make Islam exclusive. Any voice cartoon disagreement against their terrorist activity will be silenced! All other religions
will continue to be beheaded in the name of their god

Posted by vikki | Report as abusive