The 2001 Durban conference on racism turned into such an anti-Semitic rantfest from Muslim nations that the United States and Israel walked out in protest. The decision to leave created a storm of criticism here against the Bush administration, especially when Canada decided to stick around and scold the participants instead of leaving. Next year, the Canadians won’t even bother to appear, calling Durban II a “circus” (via CapQ reader Blaise MacLean):
Canada has withdrawn its support for a UN anti-racism conference slated to take place in South Africa next year, the federal government announced Wednesday.
The so-called Durban II conference “has gone completely off the rails” and Canada wants no part of it, said Jason Kenney, secretary of state for multiculturalism and Canadian identity.
“Canada is interested in combating racism, not promoting it,” Kenney told The Canadian Press. “We’ll attend any conference that is opposed to racism and intolerance, not those that actually promote racism and intolerance.
“Our considered judgment, having participated in the preparatory meetings, was that we were set for a replay of Durban I. And Canada has no intention of lending its good name and resources to such a systematic promotion of hatred and bigotry.”
Originally, Canada wanted to participate in an effort to keep the conference focused on real racism and intolerance. However, when the UN appointed Libya to chair the event, Cuba as the vice-chair, and put its problematic Human Rights Council in charge of oversight, Canada saw the writing on the wall. The HRC has followed the tradition of its predecessor Human Rights Committee in focusing all of its attention on Israel rather than nations that coincidentally sit on the HRC and systematically abuse human rights.
Of course, a few other warning signs have already appeared. The planning sessions got scheduled on Jewish high holy days, effectively ensuring that the Israelis would have no say in the event. However, Iran — whose leader called to have Israel wiped off the map and held a conference to imagine a world without Israel or the US — has been named to the organizing committee.
Canada has made the correct decision. This UN hate-fest only derogates anyone connected with it, as Durban I did. Obviously, the UN has not done anything to eliminate the influence of anti-Semites within its organization, even while staging events like Durban II to scold the world for racism. Perhaps the critics who lashed out at the Bush administration for its refusal to endorse such a despicable event will consider Canada’s rejection as evidence that the White House got this right in 2001.