So, the Durban Review Conference II commenced today. According to the Telegraph, Canada was among the USA, Israel, Italy, and Australia in boycotting the conference. When I first read about this, I found it a little confusing since the conference purports to be focused on anti-racism. However, the first conference was apparently rife with anti-semetism and was so offensive that the United States walked out on the conference half way through.

Here’s what Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Bernier, in announcing Canada’s choice to boycott the event:

Unfortunately, [the 2001 Durban] conference degenerated into open and divisive expressions of intolerance and antisemitism that undermined the principles of the United Nations and the very goals the conference sought to achieve…I had hoped that the preparatory process for the 2009 Durban Review Conference would remedy the mistakes of the past. We have concluded that, despite our efforts, it will not.

In addition to producing irrefutable evidence of the event’s hypocrisy by citing its agenda, the Telegraph’s article also alluded to the UK’s disappointing choice not to boycott the event alongside its Western allies. An interesting move.

Also contrasting the Western boycotts is the list of NGOs in support of the event in 2001 available here, and the reported list of major NGO attendees which includes Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and UNICEF.

I don’t pretend to be well-informed enough to reserve judgement on the Canadian, English, or NGO decisions made here, but it certainly seems like, once again, the world’s leaders need to learn how to get along. If repeating the mistakes of Durban I is not the answer, then another conference on a more balanced set of issues and perspectives should be held by the UN in cooperation with its member nations. From the sounds of it, Canada made the right move to back out, but non-cooperation isn’t enough; problems don’t get solved by pointing at the solutions that aren’t working. I am interested to see what gets published on the Iranian Prime Minister’s opening speech today.

I’ll write more on this later I’m sure…


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