EYEontheUN reports that Iran has become a member of the “Group of Friends of the Chair”, an informal group of states charged with taking the first steps towards producing a Durban II manifesto. Anne Bayefsky, Editor of EYEontheUN says: “the travesty of Durban II as a vehicle for getting serious about combating racism is more obvious than ever, as a regime whose President is a Holocaust-denier acquires an important role in shaping the result.”
Durban II – known formally as the UN Durban Review Conference – will be held next April in Geneva. It is charged with implementing the notorious 2001 Durban Declaration which found Israel guilty of racism and gave no other country even a passing mention.
The role of his “friends” is described by Armenian Chairman Zohrab Mnatsakanian as “engaging in brainstorming and consolidating inputs.” Other members of the behind-the-scenes group are Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Egypt. Bayefsky adds, “one shudders to imagine the brainstorming among such human rights paragons.”
The “friends of the Chair” have already met twice in July 2008 and intend to meet again shortly.
By creating this informal group, UN states have deliberately created a forum which excludes NGOs for the first time from the Durban II process.
The first contribution of the “Group of Friends” will be filed at the next stage of the process, the ‘Intersessional Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group’ session to be held in Geneva September 1-5, 2008.
“The authority figures surrounding Durban II remind us once again that this forum is an instrument serving those states bent on defeating human rights not protecting them,” said Bayefsky.