Monday, April 20, 2009

Durban II is Racism. Why are People Surpisred?

Racism is a major problem around the world. Taking proactive steps to help stop racism and have all people around the world treated equally is a noble goal. The first United Nations anti-racism conference in Durban turned into United Nations favourite past time; condemning Israel. Should there have been any expectations for Durban II to be different?

There is a basic formula that needs to be followed for accomplishing any significant agreement on the world stage. First the problem needs to be identified with proper working definitions. Targets need to be set with benchmarks for determining success or failure. Then an action plan needs to be drawn up and implemented based on the working definition. This allows for the establishment of principles that could be applied to unforeseen future circumstances of the same situation.

Durban II took the opposite approach. The planners of the conference had already decided which issues they wanted to condemn and work from their. Israel, American slavery, banning criticism of Islam were some of the targets of this year's conference. At the same time Darfur is being overlooked after receiving full support from Arab countries to avoid prosectution from the International Criminal Court. Just like Durban I, people who are real victims of discrimination will be forgotten.

Canada saw the writing on the wall a year ago when they decided they would not attend. Israel held out hope that this time would be different before withdrawing. Even with Barak Obama on the scene the United States was unable to steer to conference towards it's original noble goals.

Organizers have sought to steer clear of the controversies that marred the Durban meeting, but have run into many of the same contentious issues. Italy, Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Poland and New Zealand all had the foresight not to bother to attend. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon was very upset about the no shows. Is it possible that this small group of countries were the only ones who could see what was coming next.

Iran is in no way a beacon to the world for their human right record. They are the only country that has openly called for the elimination of another UN member. Somehow Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was chosen as the keynote speaker for the opening of the conference. He said nothing different from what he always says prompting a mass walkout of his speech. Ban Ki-Moon had to offer a condemnation afterwards, explaining that he had met with Ahmadinejad and told him to take a different approach when addressing the conference. What in the world possessed Moon to think he would listen to him. France and England had already announced their diplomats were prepared to walk out if necessary. What were the others countries thinking?

Durban II has only just begun. It has already turned into a conference which will lead to more racism around the world. Nothing tangible will result in the efforts to stop racism. Just as the United States and Israel walked out last time, there will be growing pressure for other countries to do the same this time around. The conference is only going to get worse as the week progresses.

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