Thursday, March 5, 2009

Holland Rejects Direction of Durban

The Netherlands has said it is "deeply disturbed by the turn the Durban Review Conference is taking". Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said yesterday in an address to the UN Human Rights Council that if the current draft outcome document is not amended, the country will stay away from the anti-racism conference.

"The way in which the preparatory process for this review conference has been proceeding suggests that it is unlikely to be a useful exercise, a meeting that will really assist in reaching our shared objective: abolishing racism," said Verhagen. "I therefore fully understand why some countries have decided not to participate in these proceedings any longer. For the Netherlands, too, the draft outcome document is not acceptable in its present form."

The warning echoes calls made by other countries, including the USA and Canada, who are alarmed that the document centres on Israel to the exclusion of other racism issues. There are also concerns that the document will put strict limits on the right to criticize religions.

Verhagen added: "The document does not focus on the main challenges to address the problem of racism. Instead, the thematic world conference is used by some to try to force their concept of defamation of religions and their focus on one regional conflict on all of us", namely the Middle East conflict. "That is certainly not what I have in mind when I call for a more empathetic approach."

Read it all here.

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