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8 September 2001
Report of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
Durban, 31 August - 8 September 2001
Chapter I. DOCUMENTS ADOPTED BY THE CONFERENCE
ictims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
63. We are concerned about the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation. We recognize the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to the establishment of an independent State and we recognize the right to security for all States in the region, including Israel, and call upon all States to support the peace process and bring it to an early conclusion;
III. Measures of prevention, education and protection aimed at the eradication of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance at the national, regional and international levels
B. International level
151. As for the situation in the Middle East,
the end of violence and the swift resumption of negotiations, respect for international human rights and humanitarian law, respect for the principle of self-determination and the end of all suffering, thus allowing Israel and the Palestinians to resume the peace process, and to develop and prosper in security and freedom;
CHAPTER IV. REPORT OF THE MAIN COMMITTEE
Consideration of the draft declaration and the draft programme of action
Paragraphs on the Middle-East and related issues
“1. We are conscious of the fact that the history of humanity is replete with major atrocities as a result of the gross violation of human rights and believe that lessons can be learned through remembering history to avert future tragedies.
“2. We recall that the Holocaust must never be forgotten.
“3. We recognize with deep concern religious intolerance against certain religious communities, as well as the emergence of hostile acts and violence against such communities because of their religious beliefs and their racial or ethnic origin in various parts of the world which in particular limit their right to freely practise their belief.
“4. We also recognize with deep concern the increase in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in various parts of the world, as well as the emergence of racial and violent movements based on racism and discriminatory ideas against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities.
“5. We are conscious that humanity’s history is replete with terrible wrongs inflicted through lack of respect for the equality of human beings and note with alarm the increase of such practices in various parts of the world, and we urge people, particularly in conflict situations, to desist from racist incitement, derogatory language and negative stereotyping.
“6. We are concerned about the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation. We recognize the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to the establishment of an independent State and we recognize the right to security for all States in the region, including Israel, and call upon all States to support the peace process and bring it to an early conclusion.
“7. We call for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region in which all peoples shall co-exist and enjoy equality, justice and internationally recognized human rights, and security.
“8. We recognize the right of refugees to return voluntarily to their homes and properties in dignity and safety, and urge all States to facilitate such return.
“Draft programme of action
“1. We believe that all conflicts and disputes should be resolved through peaceful means and political dialogue. We call on all parties involved in such conflicts to exercise restraint and to respect human rights and international humanitarian law.
“2. We call upon States, in opposing all forms of racism, to recognize the need to counter anti-Semitism, anti-Arabism and Islamophobia worldwide and urge all States to take effective measures to prevent the emergence of movements based on racism and discriminatory ideas concerning these communities.
“3. As for the situation in the Middle-East, we call for the end of violence and the swift resumption of negotiations, respect for international human rights and humanitarian law, respect for the principle of self-determination and the end of all suffering, thus allowing Israel and the Palestinians to resume the peace process, and to develop and prosper in security and freedom.”
Adoption of the Final Document and the Report of the Conference
3. The representative of Australia made the following statement:
“Australia is unequivocal in its opposition to racism in all its forms and is committed to strong action at all levels to combat it, both domestically and internationally, and this was reflected in the approach we took to this World Conference.
“We regret that far too much of our time has been consumed by bitter, divisive exchanges on issues which have done nothing to advance the cause of combating racism. This has been particularly evident in respect of the debate about the Middle East. Despite the great efforts of many delegations, including that of Australia, to achieve a balanced text, the references to the Middle East contain language which will do nothing to achieve greater peace in that troubled region and nothing to advance the objectives of this Conference.
“We have some specific reservations on the text we are about to adopt which we would like to be included in the record of the meeting in the same manner as that requested by the Canadian delegation. In relation to the second paragraph 5 of your text on the Middle East, my delegation believes that this paragraph deals with a political situation, and has no place in the outcomes of the World Conference, which is on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
“On paragraph 7 of the text on the Middle East, my delegation believes that this language undermines the agreements reached between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, as the representative of the Palestinian people, which aim to achieve a just settlement of the refugee problem, in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions, through direct negotiations to resolve all outstanding final status issues.
5. The representative of Canada made the following statement:
“Canada is still here today only because we wanted to have our voice decry the attempts at this Conference to de-legitimize the State of Israel and to dishonour the history and suffering of the Jewish people. We believe, and we have said in the clearest possible terms, that it was inappropriate - wrong - to address the Palestinian-Israel conflict in this forum. We have said, and will continue to say, that anything - any process, any declaration, any language - presented in any forum that does not serve to advance a negotiated peace that will bring security, dignity and respect to the people of the region is - and will be - unacceptable to Canada.
“That is why the Canadian delegation registers its strongest objections and disassociates itself integrally from all text in this document directly or indirectly relating to the situation in the Middle East. We state emphatically that this text is
; it is outside the jurisdiction and mandate of this Conference.
“For example, paragraph 7 goes to the heart of the legitimacy of the State of Israel. When read in the context of the Middle East, which we believe to be the intent, the word ‘Israel’ is implicit. Therefore, the formulation with respect to the right of return of refugees is not consistent with United Nations General Assembly resolution 194.
“This paragraph is tantamount to a call for a unilateral violation of the agreed peace accords. Its implementation would be inconsistent with the agreement between the parties that the return of refugees would be pursuant to a negotiated final settlement.
“As such, it is an unhelpful and irresponsible intrusion by this Conference into one of the world’s most dangerous conflicts. Further, as was proposed in the draft document, Canada believed, and continues to believe, that it is entirely appropriate that the Declaration contain an independent and unlinked reference to the need for all of us to counter anti-Semitism. Canada came to this Conference with very clear positions on what is important to us. We will not sacrifice our principles or distort our long-standing, fair-minded policy with regard to the Middle East conflict.
9. The representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran made the following statement:
“As a delegation which has attached great importance and accorded the highest priority to the World Conference against Racism and its successful conclusion, the Islamic Republic of Iran, in the course of the past two years, has done its utmost to contribute to the full realization of the noble objectives of this landmark event. We actively participated in the preparatory process and spared no effort to contribute to the deliberation in a spirit of cooperation and good faith. We accordingly hosted the Asian regional conference in Tehran, with the hope that this World Conference would be crowned with unity and success.
“However, at this very final stage and as the plenary is about to adopt the outcome of the time-consuming, highly sensitive and complex discussions and negotiations, we cannot conceal our dismay and dissatisfaction over the unexpected turn of events in the past few days which has inadvertently led to the imposition of the viewpoints of certain countries on the others. As a result of the creation of such an unhealthy atmosphere, the question of Palestine and the Middle East, which has taken a high place on the agenda of the international community, has been greatly undermined in this World Conference that is believed to have the responsibility to address the injustices of racism and racial discrimination.
“All efforts made by the members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to justly address the causes of the oppressed Palestinian people were rendered futile in the atmosphere of intimidation, threat and ultimatum. Consequently, all the paragraphs on the Middle East and Palestinian issue were deleted and were subsequently replaced by new paragraphs in the final documents, despite the opposition of the respective parties concerned. Lack of transparency and the use of undemocratic methods to induce sovereign States to accept certain language and ideas on this issue are indeed unprecedented in the history of international gatherings and conferences.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is therefore bound to express its dismay at this irrational and unhealthy practice, and strongly believes that such an unfortunate trend should not constitute a precedence for future world conferences.
“Moreover, while subscribing to all the other parts of the final documents of this World Conference, the Islamic Republic of Iran would like to disassociate itself from all paragraphs pertaining to the Palestinian and Middle East issue as appear in the final documents of this Conference. Iran believes that this part of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action falls well short of addressing the fundamental issues of the current situation of the Middle East, particularly in the occupied Palestinian territories, and thus lacks fairness, balance and credibility. In fact, the essence and the magnitude of the tragedy and the suffering of the Palestinian people have been deliberately omitted in the same part of the said documents.
“Obviously, the efforts of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as in the past, continue to be directed towards the full realization of all legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, in particular the right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent State, with Jerusalem as its capital, and the right to regain all occupied territories, as well as the right of all refugees to return to their homeland.
“As regards the terms holocaust and anti-Semitism in the Declaration and Programme of Action, we interpret holocaust as referring to the Jewish holocaust in Europe and anti-Semitism as referring to both Arabs and Jews.
“Our message to the Palestinian people is clear and simple. We will never compromise their legitimate rights. We deeply and wholeheartedly sympathize with their cause and suffering. The peoples of the world will not condone the inhumane Israeli policies and practices, which are clear manifestations of racism and discrimination. The pertinent parts of the final document of the NGO Forum submitted to this World Conference testify to this assertion. We believe that the suffering of the Palestinian people and their legitimate rights, which have been vastly and grossly violated by the occupying racist power in the course of the past 50 years, have not been given proper and due consideration in this Conference. Consequently, the outcome of the Conference in this respect cannot be interpreted as a successful achievement.
10. The representative of the Syrian Arab Republic made the following statement:
“Although Syria wished for clearer wording, especially on the Middle East - and I am speaking here about practices, not a political solution for the Middle East and Israel, because from the beginning I agreed with those colleagues who said that we were not here to find a solution - and although the Conference is not part of a peace process for the Arab-Israeli conflict, we should not forget that racist practices are being carried out in the occupied Palestinian and Arab territories. It goes without saying that we have documented evidence of the demolition of houses, the use of F-16s, the uprooting of people and trees, especially olive trees, the transfer of people, the besieging of people, of making people starve, and of the killing of children: all these are racist practices and it is obvious that Israel is carrying them out. Of course, I know that some of our friends and colleagues in the western hemisphere do not like such language, but if they do not like it, why do they attend such a Conference in the first place? However, my country, my delegation, has cooperated and it did all that it could to make this Conference a success; we made every effort to find the right wording to which everyone could subscribe, rather than what would satisfy us.
24. The statement of the representative of Iraq reads as follows:
“My delegation notes, with regret, that the paragraphs of the Declaration and Programme of Action concerning the Middle East do not reflect the actual situation in the occupied Arab territories, the racist practices to which the Palestinian people are being subjected and the repression and racial discrimination from which they are suffering. Accordingly, my country’s delegation declares that it is neither a party to, nor bound by, the consensus concerning the paragraphs relating to the Middle East. I request that this be recorded in the Conference documents.
27. The statement of the representative of Qatar (on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference) reads as follows:
“I appeal to the Conference to consider this statement on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference before the adoption of the Conference’s final documents.
“The following is the legal explanation of the position taken by the members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference on some of the major themes of the Conference.
“First, with regard to paragraph 2 and paragraph 4 of the President’s text, the Organization of the Islamic Conference would like to state the following:
“(i) Concerning the reference to the Holocaust in paragraph 2 of the President’s text on the Middle East, the Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference stress the fact that the Holocaust took place in Europe and that the people and countries outside Europe do not bear any responsibility.
“(ii) As far as the reference to anti-Semitism in the President’s text on the Middle East is concerned, the Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference stress the fact that the overwhelming majority of the Semites are Arabs.
“Therefore, I request that this statement be fully reproduced in the official records of this Conference.
“Secondly, I also request the President to state precisely to the Conference the specific placement of each paragraph of the President’s text in both the final Declaration and the Programme of Action. Our understanding is that the President’s text will replace all paragraphs relating to the Middle East, the Holocaust and anti-Semitism in the original text of the Declaration and Programme of Action.
“Thirdly, I also request that the statement made today by the State of Qatar on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference be fully reproduced in the official records of this plenary meeting and accordingly in the report of the Conference.”
28. The statement of the representative of the United Arab Emirates (also on behalf of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia) reads as follows:
“In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,
“On behalf of the delegation of the United Arab Emirates and the delegations of the State of Bahrain, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman, the State of Qatar and the State of Kuwait, we wish to thank not only the friendly Government of South Africa for hosting this Conference but also you personally for the diligent endeavours that you have made to ensure the success of its work.
“The delegations of our States have participated effectively, in collaboration with the delegations of the members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, in the work of the Conference and its subcommittees with a view to reaching a consensus of opinion.
“In spite of the difficulties which the Conference faced in regard to many of the issues before it, our delegations continued to work, in the most diligent and sincere manner, until the last moment with a view to reaching a consensus on the text of a final document that would reflect the concerns and preoccupations of all the regional groups.
“However, notwithstanding those endeavours, the manner in which some delegations persisted in maintaining their inflexible positions and preconceptions prevented agreement from being reached on the proposals and views that had been put forward during the work of the Conference.
“While emphasizing the content of the statement made by the Organization of the Islamic Conference in the Main Committee, we also wish to point out that we cannot accept some of the concepts included in the final document and, consequently, the delegations of our States wish to make it clearly understood that:
(i) The concept of the Holocaust reflects historical events that took place in Europe. However, this does not mean that similar events have not occurred in other parts of the world. Moreover, this concept is not restricted exclusively to a particular people or group, as is clearly demonstrated by the daily racist practices that are being witnessed in the occupied Arab territories.
(ii) With regard to the concept of Semitism, it should be clearly understood that, in actual fact, the Arabs are also Semites and, therefore, no group has the exclusive right to monopolize this concept.
(iii) The final document contains wording and concepts that conflict with the provisions of the Islamic Shari’a. For this reason, we are not bound by such wording and concepts contained in that document which, therefore, shall not entail any political or legal consequences and do not oblige us to take any preventive, legislative, judicial, administrative, regulatory or other measures at the national level.
(iv) On behalf of the delegations of our States, I also request you, Madam President, to have this statement recorded and included in the official working documents of this Conference.”