[JURIST] Delegates to the UN Durban Review Conference on Racism [official website] walked out of a speech [text, PDF] on Monday by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [official profile; JURIST news archive] after he described Israel as "totally racist." Additionally, a protester dressed as a clown threw his rubber nose at the Iranian president. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile] released a statement [text] in response to Ahmadinejad's speech saying:
I deplore the use of this platform by the Iranian President to accuse, divide and even incite. This is the opposite of what this Conference seeks to achieve. This makes it significantly more difficult to build constructive solutions to the very real problem of racism.Despite the disruptions, the UN conference on racism passed a draft resolution [text, PDF] assessing the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action (DDPA) [text, PDF] and evaluating the ratification of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination [text].
The conference was the first of its kind [JURIST news report] since 2001. Many critics viewed the 2001 conference as being anti-Israel, which undoubtedly led to the heightened concerns leading up to this year's conference. The US, Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, and New Zealand boycotted this year's conference due to the draft declaration's position on Israel and the Middle East. Also, the US has refused to continue negotiations [press release] on the draft declaration, which the Department of State [official website] believes "must not single out any one country or conflict, nor embrace the troubling concept of 'defamation of religion' [and] ... should not go further than the DDPA on the issue of reparations for slavery." In preparation for the conference, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] passed a resolution [JURIST report] last month calling for laws against defamation of religion.