Time for Australia to withdraw from the Durban II process

Media Release


The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council today called for the Australian government to withdraw from the process leading to the UN’s scheduled “Durban Review Conference.” The conference, known as “Durban II”, is intended to be a follow up to the 2001 Durban “anti-racism” conference which degenerated into frequent displays of open antisemitism by NGO representatives, and in which the only state named as guilty of racism was Israel. It is planned to take place in Geneva on April 20-25.

AIJAC National Chairman Mark Leibler AC said, “It is understandable that Australia has wanted to do everything possible to try to salvage a positive outcome out of Durban II, given the importance of fighting racism as a global issue. Unfortunately, it is now clear that this is not going to be possible. As the US government noted on Friday in withdrawing from participation in the process, the current ‘draft outcome document’ for the conference is simply ‘not salvageable.'”

AIJAC Executive Director Dr. Colin Rubenstein AM added, “There are now less than two months to go until the conference begins, and all the preparatory meetings, save one, have been completed. Despite the hard work of democratic countries, including Australia, the outcome document that is currently on the table is not improving, thanks to the continuous bad faith of non-democratic countries that dominate the process.

“With Libya chairing the preparatory committee, assisted by Cuba as rapporteur and Iran as one of several vice-chairs, the proposed outcome document has mixed the fight against racism with a variety of morally deplorable political agendas,” Dr. Rubenstein added. “The current ‘draft outcome document’ not only again names Israel, alone among the world’s countries, as guilty of racism, it also effectively licenses Holocaust denial. Further, it requires that all states implement undemocratic laws banning ‘defamation of religion’ demanded by the 56-state Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). In essence, we are likely to see an even worse anti-Israel, antisemitic, anti-Western debacle than we saw at the original conference in 2001.”

Mark Leibler concluded, “It is now clear no positive outcome for the fight against racism can be achieved by this fatally flawed conference. In the interests of that vital struggle, the only principled and constructive step Australia can now take is to withdraw from the Durban II process – unless and until the current politicised ‘draft outcome document’ is thrown out and the process commences again from the beginning.”

For additional information, contact Dr. Colin Rubenstein on (03)-9681-6660 or at crubenstein@aijac.org.au.