Durban II meeting to be challenged

Paul Lungen
The Canadian Jewish News, September 20, 2007

Canadian and American legislators met last week to consider sponsoring a “counter-conference” to compete with the UN-sponsored “Durban II” meeting on human rights that is set to convene in 2009.

Senator Jerry Grafstein is teaming with as yet unnamed U.S. congressmen to propose an international conference of democratic, human-rights-supporting parliamentarians and NGOs that would run parallel to the official UN confab. It will focus on international human rights issues and not simply be a vehicle for bashing Israel and Jews, as was the infamous 2001 Durban World Conference Against Racism, he said.

“What we want to do is ensure that if there’s a debate on human rights, it’s fair and not distorted,” Grafstein said.

The upcoming UN World Conference Against Racism, which is being organized by the UN Human Rights Committee, will convene as a followup to the Durban I conference. Observers of the UN Human Rights Committee say the followup conference is already off to a rocky start. Geneva-based UN Watch, and Irwin Cotler, the Liberal party’s human rights critic, noted in a Sept. 6 CJN article that Libya was elected to chair a 20-nation organizing bureau that includes Iran and other human rights violators. They warned that these were early signs that the conference will be hijacked by anti-Israel forces.

Grafstein shared those concerns. “How can you have a conference on human rights led by Iran?” he asked.

As an antidote to the official conference, Grafstein conceived of an alternative event. He said he was inspired by historical precedent — the 1936 “People’s Olympiad,” which was organized as a protest to the official Olympic Games in Nazi Germany. That alternative competition, which was to have been held in Barcelona, was cancelled after Spain plunged into civil war. CONTINUE

October 6, 2007 | 1 Comment »

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