EJC President Kantor: European Leadership on Human Rights Leaves No Alternative Than to Boycott Conference
After important and highly productive meetings with the European Union Presidency, today the European Jewish Congress (EJC) called on the European Presidency to take a principled stand and withdraw from the upcoming 2009 UN Durban Review Conference (so-called “Durban II”), which is scheduled to take place in Geneva in April. Durban II is a follow-up meeting to the United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance held in Durban, South Africa in 2001.
In calling on European nations to boycott next month’s Durban II conference, EJC PresidentMoshe Kantor stated, “European officials have made important statements that racism must not be tolerated. EU leaders such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others truly committed to protecting human rights and preventing racism and xenophobia, should, like Italy, announce their withdrawal from Durban II without delay.” He added, “Specifically, we urge the European Presidency to act according to its own guidelines and boycott Durban II and encourage European nations to follow suit.”
Preparations for the upcoming conference have been fraught with racial conflict, with Iran and Syria officially requesting that the committee tasked with drafting Durban II delete provisions against Holocaust denial. Syria also requested that mention of the Holocaust should be minimized since, as the Syrians claim, that there is “no consensus on the percentage of victims who perished in the Holocaust.”
In the words of EJC President Kantor, “The fact that Holocaust denial is gaining a prominent place at a UN-sponsored conference ostensibly devoted to combating racism is troubling and beyond hypocritical. It is nothing short of a Kafka-esque scenario when some of the world’s worst human rights abusers are not only let off the hook, but are allowed to chair an international conference on human rights.”