96 Am. Soc'y Int'l L. Proc. 65 (2002)
The UN World Conference against Racism: A Racist Anti-Racism Conference

handle is hein.journals/asilp96 and id is 77 raw text is: THE UN WORLD CONFERENCE AGAINST RACISM:
by Anne Bayefsky*
The World Conference Against Racism (Conference) became a forum for racism.
Human rights was used as a weapon of political interests antithetical to human rights
protection. Durban challenged nongovernmental human rights organizations, permitted
to be more closely connected to a world conference than ever before, and states alike,
to clarity of purpose and position on fundamental principles, racism, its definition and
its defeat. Jewish nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the state of Israel as the
embodiment of the self-determination of the Jewish people, would undoubtedly have
preferred not to be the testing ground of their resolve. They had come to Durban to
join the global effort to eradicate racism in all its forms. But they were singled out, and
forced to leave as the only victims' voices deleted, and the only state condemned.
This outcome totally eclipses what might be called the limited success of others by way
of selected textual provisions, or opportunities for networking, particularly in view of
the abundance of existing anti-racism legal standards and mechanisms. The intervening
six months have been a time of denial and cover-up, with frequent assertions that the
media distorted events or entreaties to consider the glass half-full. The disservice to the
human rights cause could not be more fundamental. The system of international human
rights protection is rooted in the equality of humankind and it will founder on the
exclusion of theJew,just as the system of international peace and security is premised
on the equality of all nations large and small and will founder on the exclusion of the
Jewish state.
Durban is now being institutionalized with the passage by the General Assembly of
the resolution on Durban follow-up.' The racism of an anti-racism world conference
and the future anti-racism agenda of the United Nations are not theoretical problems.
Racism has real consequences, as real as terrorism. Racism and xenophobia are surely
some of terrorism's root causes. Confronting Durban is therefore essential to the inter-
national human rights movement.
In determining what went wrong, U.S. Representative Tom Lantos andJamesJonah
provide insider perspectives. One was a senior U.S. representative in Durban and the
other a former senior UN official and secretary-general of the Second World Confer-
ence on Racism. Both lay much of the blame for the outcome of Durban on the UN
High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, who was secretary general of
the Conference.2 At the same time, the context is important. Durban was not an aber-
ration. It was the culmination of a long campaign under UN auspices both to turn Israel
into a pariah state-the new South Africa-and to deny anti-Semitism as a human rights
issue of our time. The primary embarrassment of Durban for the United Nations was
* Visiting Professor of Law, Columbia University; represented the International Association of Jewish
Lawyers andJurists at the Durban NGO Forum, and UN Watch at the Durban World Conference.
' Comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the World Conference against Racism, Racial
Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, UN Doc. A/RES/56/266, March 27, 2002.
2 Tom Lantos, The Durban Debacle: An Insider's View of the World Racism Conference at Durban, 26 FLETCHER
F. WORLD AFF. 31, 32 (2002);James Jonah, November speech at the fall 2001 seminar series of The Ralph
Bunche Institute for International Studies, The Graduate Center of the City University of NewYork (on file
with author).

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