Tuesday, 3 March 2009

US pulls out of Durban II

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The United States have pulled out of Durban II, the United Nations' conference on racism due to be held in Geneva on 20-24 April. The first conference, which actually was held in Durban in 2001, saw the United States and Israel walk out after Arab nations proposed a resolution equating Zionism with racism. Both Israel and Canada have already pulled out of Durban II, but the Obama had given some indication that the US might take part. However, the US confirmed it would not be involved amid signs that the conference would again focus on Israel, in a manner which some Jewish groups say amounts to little more than outright anti-Semitism.

The United States have also expressed concern about an expected attempt by Islamic states, under the umbrella of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, to push through a resolution condemning "defamation of religion", which has been widely interpreted as an attempt to introduce a blasphemy sanction into international law (we've reported on this previously on this blog).

Interestingly, we actually have a piece on this by veteran UN-watcher Ian Williams in the new issue of New Humanist, which is now on its way to subscribers. Williams argues that both the boycotters and those they are opposing risk destroying a process that could lead to some real progress. I'll blog it once I put it online later this week.


Like D said...

I really look forward to reading the article regarding the current UN activity condemning criticism of religion. Superficially, I'm horrified at the implications and am surprised that the blogosphere hasn't completed exploded yet...

Anonymous said...

I too am appalled, aghast, horrified etc at any attempt by the UN to allow any sort of activity to bring about the condemnation of criticism of religion. How does this square up with the righ to freedom of expression? How can the UN even begin to listen to this hadn't criticised religion in the West we would still be burning witches and hanging gays and lesbians. It is a fundamental principal that we are able to criticise something which we disaagree with. The ridiculous term 'Islamaphobia' is not a fear of Islam but a fear by followers of Islam who fear criticism. No ideaology is beyond criticism, why on earth must religious people always DEMAND religion is ring fenced against criticism?

Lainey said...

Great to hear there is an article on this included in the new issue, can't wait to read it - listening for the letterbox rattling :)
I'm also surprised there hasn't been more coverage of this - apart from on the big "rights and freedoms" websites and a few blogs. It's been mostly out of mainstream media in the UK, but when I tell people about it, they seem geniunely shocked and appalled, most people laugh at the idea of it, and deny it will ever be passed. I hope they are right, but surely we need to make some noise and defend our corner to be sure.