Civil Society Groups Seek Durban Review that Rejects Hatred

GENEVA— Human Rights First joined 94 leading civil society organizations this morning to declare that the United Nations and its organizations and conferences on human rights must not serve as a vehicle for any form of racism, including anti-Semitism.

In a “Statement of Core Principles for WCAR Follow-Up” delivered to the Preparatory Committee of the Durban Review Conference this morning in Geneva, the 94 signatories—NGOs who advocate on a broad range of human rights issues, including anti-racism, non-discrimination, minority rights, religious freedom, women’s rights and other related issues in approximately 100 Member States— joined in a pledge ”to reject hatred and incitement in all its forms, including antisemitism, to learn from the shortcomings of the 2001 WCAR, and to work together in a spirit of mutual respect.”

“We must not allow another United Nations conference to become a platform for the antisemitic hatred that marred the 2001 conference; such tactics actually exacerbate the prejudices the WCAR was intended to confront,” said Tad Stahnke, director of Human Rights First’s Fighting Discrimination program, who presented the Statement of Core Principles to the meeting this morning.

“These preparatory meetings will demonstrate the commitment of participating states to ensure that the review conference is held on the basis of internationally recognized human rights principles, and to prevent the recurrence of the problems that plagued the last WCAR,” added Stahnke.

The statement, organized by the Magenta Foundation and the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, laments a “vacuum of moral leadership” at the 2001 Durban conference and mobilizes an international civil society voice proactively to take responsibility to adhere to human rights language and standards, to conduct themselves with civility and to seek a constructive focus on whether governments have taken the steps they committed themselves to take six years ago in the Durban Declaration and Program of Action.

Signatories hope to ensure that the Durban Review is not held hostage to those who would politicize it again, but is allowed to focus on holding states accountable for their failure to implement policies to address racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

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The text of the Statement and list of signatories is attached below. Follow the hyperlink above or visit to get continually updated list of signatories and the French and Spanish language version.


In 2001, more than three thousand people participated in the Non-Governmental Forum of the United Nations third World Conference against Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR) to chart a course for future generations to eradicate racism, discrimination and intolerance. Participants pledged to adhere to established international human rights standards and operate with transparency and respect for democratic discourse.

Many civil society representatives were disappointed, when the NGO process, which raised the profile of important contemporary racism problems and the historic wounds of slavery and discrimination, was discredited. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson spoke out against what she called the “hateful, even racist” antisemitic atmosphere that plagued the NGO forum. She refused to commend it to governments for their consideration. Leading international human rights organizations called some of the human rights language in the declaration inaccurate, inappropriate and even counterproductive. They regretted that progress on vital issues such as discrimination against Roma and caste discrimination was thereby diminished. Observers were shocked by violations of procedure in the preparatory and drafting processes, the racist treatment including violence, exclusion, and intimidation against Jewish participants, and the misuse of human rights terminology in the document related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

With a few notable exceptions, the vast majority of groups was silent or refused to speak out. In the years since, many have reflected that the result was a regrettable vacuum of moral leadership.

The 94 signatories pledge to reject hatred and incitement in all its forms, including antisemitism, to learn from the shortcomings of the 2001 WCAR, and to work together in a spirit of mutual respect.

  1. We are united in our deep commitment to the goals of the WCAR to chart a course for future generations to eradicate racism, discrimination and intolerance in all its forms.
  2. Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance afflict peoples in many Member States. We are committed to the important mission of NGOs to monitor and hold accountable those responsible for policy failures and for lack of implementation of measures to prevent and punish such acts.
  3. However, the global effort to eradicate racism cannot be advanced by branding whole peoples with a stigma of ultimate evil, fomenting hateful stereotyping in the name of human rights.
  4. The UN and its human rights fora must not serve as a vehicle for any form of racism, including antisemitism, and must bar incitement to hatred against any group in the guise of criticism of a particular government. We pledge to prevent this from happening again.
  5. We pledge to uphold language and behavior that unites rather than divides. As NGOs we commit to use language in accordance with international human rights standards and conduct ourselves with civility and with respect for human rights standards.

Signed by:

  1. Magenta Foundation
  2. Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights
  3. International League for Human Rights
  4. Human Rights First
  5. ENAR – European Network Against Racism
  6. UNITED for Intercultural Action – European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants and refugees
  7. Anti-Defamation League
  8. ACP – “Culture of peace” Association (Romania)
  9. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (USA)
  10. SOVA Center for Information and Analysis (Russian Federation)
  11. Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (USA)
  12. European Jewish Congress
  13. ILGA-Europe, International Lesbian and Gay Association
  14. LICRA – Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisemitisme
  15. B’nai B’rith International
  16. Simon Wiesenthal Centre
  17. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
  18. CCDN – Celebrating Cultural Diversity Network (UK)
  19. CRARR – Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (Canada)
  20. Observatorio sobre Conflictos Etnicos en la Argentina – OSCEA
  21. CAERS – The Canadian Anti-racism Education and Research Society
  22. Citizens’ Watch (Russia)
  23. AFRICAN UNION Social organization of St.Petersburg (Russia)
  24. NEVER AGAIN Association (Poland)
  25. Asian American Justice Center
  26. CIDI (Netherlands)
  27. European Council of WIZO Federations
  28. GRA Foundation against racism and antisemitism (Switzerland)
  29. Dženo Association (Czech Republic)
  30. AJC – American Jewish Committee
  31. Hadassah
  32. Freedom House (USA)
  33. Human Rights Without Frontiers International
  34. World Jewish Congress
  35. Athinganoi, the Romani Student Association (Czech Republic)
  36. Canadian Jewish Congress
  37. Jewish Labor Committee (USA)
  38. DACoRD – Documentation and Advisory Center on Racial Discrimination (Denmark)
  39. Movimiento contra la Intolerancia (Spain)
  40. Civitas Bosnia and Herzegovina
  41. ZARA – Zivilcourage und Anti-Rassismus-Arbeit (Austria)
  42. United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA)
  43. Roma Virtual Network (RVN)
  44. International Institute for Education and Research of Antisemitism (Germany/UK)
  45. Antonio Stiftung (Germany)
  46. RADAR – Rotterdam Anti-Discrimination Council (Netherlands)
  47. CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe
  48. B’nai B’rith Europe
  49. NIK – Organization of Jewish Communities in the Netherlands
  50. United Nations Watch (Switzerland)
  51. International Council of Jewish Women
  52. Rabbis for Human Rights (Israel)
  53. MAPP- Mouvement pour l’abolition de la prostitution et de la pornographie et de toutes formes de violences sexuelles et discriminations sexistes (France)
  54. Association ESTER (Slovakia)
  55. Na’amat (Belgium)
  56. The Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights (Kyrgyz Republic)
  57. Le Conseil des Femmes Juives de Belgique – CFJB (Belgium)
  58. Bund Schweizerischer Jüdischer Frauenorganisationen – BSJF (Switzerland)
  59. The Citizens Accord Forum between Jews and Arabs in Israel – CAF
  60. Consultative Council of Jewish Organisations (EU)
  61. Roma National Congress (RNC)
  62. Israeli Association for Immigrant Children
  63. National Roma Centrum (Macedonia)
  64. New Israel Fund – NIF
  65. Union of Balkans Egyptians (Macedonia)
  66. Roma National Centre (Moldova)
  67. National Campaign for Nomadic Tribes Human Rights – NCNTHR (India)
  68. Association of citizens Sumnal (Macedonia)
  69. Tribuna Israelita (Mexico)
  70. Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly of Moldova
  71. Defence for Children International (Czech section)
  72. Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Justice Office – SCP (Ireland)
  73. Centro de Cultura e Pesquisas Axé – CCPA (Brazil)
  74. Yad Sarah (Israel)
  75. International Women’s Rights Action Watch (USA)
  76. Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities
  77. The International Council of Christians and Jews – ICCJ
  78. The American association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
  79. ORT America/World ORT
  80. Canadian Ethnocultural Council
  81. Comite Central de la Comunidad Judia de Mexico – Jewish Central Committee of Mexico (JCCM)
  82. Physicians for Human Rights
  83. The Advocates for Human Rights – formerly Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights (USA)
  84. Antinazi Initiative (Greece)
  85. World Council of Conservative/Masorti Synagogues
  86. Jewish Council for Public Affairs (USA)
  87. Helsinki Committee for Human Rights (Sweden)
  88. The Bahá’í International Community
  89. The Canadian Helsinki Watch Group
  90. Moscow Helsinki Group
  91. Roma Democratic Development Association SUN (Macedonia)
  92. Conectas Direitos Humanos (Brazil)
  93. INACH – International Network Against Cyber HateEuropean Union of Jewish Students (EUJS)

Published on April 28, 2008


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