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Declaration Against Racism – After All That …

  • April 23rd, 2009
  • Posted by 7thmin

un-hr-commissioner-09.jpgThe United Nations hosted a scuffle over racism at its European headquarters, in Geneva.

The World Summit on Racism endorsed its prepared declaration this week (22.4.09) putting aside conflict there on Monday, mostly over the Holocaust and animosity towards Zionism.

European Union  delegates walked out as the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declaimed against the West over colonialism in the Middle East and the establishment of the state of Israel.

The event, accompanied by  barracking and shoving in the elegant precincts of the UN Palais des Nations, belied the general accord on tackling unjust discrimination along a global front.

The Declaration calls on governments to eradicate multiple forms of racial discrimination, while affirming the right to freedom of expression.

It lists related issues for concerted attention including discrimination against migrants, protection for HIV/AIDS patients, access to justice, social services, and racism in sports.

In regard to the concerns of Israel it does not refer to individual countries and avers that the memory of the Holocaust must always be kept.

Concerns about an outburst of anti-semitism at the world gathering, conducted under United Nations auspices, saw a full boycott by Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Poland and the United States.


The Palais des Nations, nestled on the Geneva lakeside, has seen generations of conflicts and settlements.

It began as the seat of the ill-fated League of Nations.

arafat-yecheadquartersorg.jpgIn its guest book from more recent times, the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, made his famous concession speech there to the UN General Assembly in December 1988.

Arriving in a cloud of secrecy and security he appeared, and accepted the terms of Israel and the West for a two-state solution in his homeland.

“We want our Palestinian state … we renounce terrorism”, he said.

Israel’s right to existence would be recognised.

(His declaration was actually required twice-over; querying of the first version, in Arabic, by American and other officials, caused him to reappear twenty-four hours later at a media conference – where he said it all in English).

Fruitful negotiations did follow; they led to the formation of the Palestinian territories, and then lapsed.

Tranquil Geneva had been suddenly invaded for the event by armies of diplomats, journalists, government officials, and presumably spies.

achille-lauro.jpgAmid the inevitable fringe activity for a General Assembly, the singer Sting promoted a charity project; and down by the lake Jewish protestors re-enacted the murder by Palestinian terrorists of Leon Klinghoffer, 69, the disabled cruise ship passenger.

Arafat’s address to the United Nations was planned initially for New York, but his association with terrorism had too much offended the outgoing Reagan administration there.

The Secretary of State, George Schultz, against standing agreements with the UN, refused to grant him an entry permit; so the whole caravan was made to move to the  European venue.

Reference:, An Open Door to the Arab World, “Arafat at the General Assembly: Yaser Arafat’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly, 13.12.88”, (Delivered in Arabic)., (23.4.09).

UNO, New York, “Ban, UN rights chief hail adoption of outcome document at anti-racism conference”, 21.4.09., (23.4.09).

UNO, Geneva, “New Draft Outcome for Anti-racism Conference Released”, 15.4.09., (23.4.09).

Samuel Gardaz, “UN tries to woo Western boycotters with anti-racism pledge”, AFP, Paris, 23.4.09.


Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay at the Geneva conference, UNO.

Yasser Aarafat,

Achille Lauro, the cruise ship seized by Palestine Liberation Front gunmen in 1985; the wheelchair-bound Jewish man, Leon Klinghhoffer, was shot and thrown overboard; Wikipedia.