UN anti-racism conference winds down amid NGO expulsions for bad behaviour

More than 300 civil society organizations are participating at the Durban Review Conference

23 April 2009 – The ongoing United Nations anti-racism conference in Geneva concluded its general debate today after hearing statements on new forms of racist discrimination and expelling three non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for disruptive behaviour.

A number of the UN agencies spoke at the five-day Durban Review Conference, which comes to a close tomorrow, including the International Labour Organization (ILO), which warned that saying no to racism in the work is key to promoting respect, tolerance and inclusiveness.

For its part, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) highlighted its own role in countering pseudo-scientific theories of racial superiority.

In a related development, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, in her capacity as Secretary-General of the conference, took steps to banish three NGOs as a result of unacceptable behaviour inside UN premises “in clear violation of the rules laid down regarding the conduct of NGOs during the conference,” according to a press release.

The ousted Union des Etudiants Juifs de France (UEJF) participants were “extremely prominent” during disruptions that took place on the opening day of the Conference.

“There has, in the view of the organizers of the Conference, been a clearly orchestrated effort by members of this NGO, possibly in league with others, to disrupt the conference,” the release sad.

Two delegates from the Neda Institute for Political and Scientific Research were intercepted with inciting materials, possibly in coordination with other organizations, and the distribution of any materials, especially offensive ones, outside designated areas is clearly prohibited.

The third group to be kicked out of the conference was COEXIST for similar behaviour as UEJF, during several of the same incidents.

On the Conference’s opening day, delegates of several nations walked out of the room during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s address, which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said were intended to “accuse, divide and even incite” and are a roadblock to tackling the scourge of racism.

On Tuesday, the conference unanimously adopted an outcome document, emphasizing the need to address all manifestations of intolerance with greater resolve, calling on States to take effective, tangible and comprehensive measures to prevent, combat and eradicate all forms of racism, and urging countries which have not yet done so to create and implement national plans to combat intolerance, among other steps.


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