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SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 10th MEETING
Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Tuesday, 24 April 2009, at 10 a.m.
President: Mr. WAKO (Kenya)
ISSUES ARISING FROM THE CONFERENCE (continued)
45. Mr. STAHNKE (Observer for Human Rights First) ...
46. He welcomed the fact that the provisions on defamation of religion had been dropped, since they could ultimately have led to norms limiting free speech, and that the document eliminated language that appeared to make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the focus of the entire document. He also commended the statements in the document deploring anti-Semitism and declaring that the Holocaust must never be forgotten.
56. Ms. JARADAT GASSNER (Observer for the BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian and Refugee Rights) said that racial discrimination was not an abstract problem but a practical one that affected the lives of millions of real human beings. Among those, the Palestinian people were victims not only of foreign occupation but also of apartheid and colonialism. Israeli policies, such as the fragmentation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the construction of the wall of separation and the restrictions on freedom of movement rendered a just two-State solution impossible. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action had failed to halt institutionalized racial discrimination against the Palestinian people, and she called on Member States to include the Palestinians in the Durban process.
57. Ms. ZOROD (Observer for Al-Haq) said that it was deplorable that Palestinian and other NGOs had been denied the opportunity to hold side events at the Conference on the grounds that the Conference was dealing with principles rather than with specific peoples or places. Racism, however, afflicted real people in real places.
58. Despite the fact that the Palestinian people were among those explicitly listed as victims of racism in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, Israel’s policies of discrimination had proliferated since 2001. Moreover, while the draft outcome document of the Review Conference provided a valuable follow-up framework, she was concerned that reference was made to the “past” tragedies of slavery, apartheid, colonialism and genocide. That was an insult to existing victims.
59. There was evidence to suggest that Israel had introduced apartheid in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, although, as the most egregious form of racial discrimination, such a practice was clearly proscribed by international law. States should not allow political boycotts and grandstanding to undermine the collective struggle against racism worldwide.
60. Mr. MAKHOUL (Observer for Ittijah: Union of Arab Community-based Organizations), speaking also on behalf of the Federación de Asociaciones de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, the International Trade Union Confederation, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the Arab Organization for Human Rights, commended the involvement of Arab civil society in the Conference and condemned the absence of some Governments: participation was both a privilege and a duty. He expressed concern at the racist practices of which the Palestinian people were victims; perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity should be brought to justice. All the rights of the Palestinian people should be realized, including the right of return. He condemned foreign occupation in Iraq, Golan and the Shebaa Farms area. He also condemned action taken against individuals on the pretext of countering terrorism. A “Durban + 10” conference should be held in 2011, the outcome document of which would be drafted with the close involvement of civil society, especially individuals who had suffered human rights violations.