Obama Skips Controversial U.N. Durban Conference

Geneva, Switzerland — The U.N.’s Durban Review Conference opens here on Monday, but it will not have the participation of President Barack Obama — a major disappointment for the United Nations and its admirers who complained of neglect during the Bush years.

The conference, which claims to address the “contemporary manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,” is just another opportunity for delegates to hurl epithets at the U.S. and Israel. The conference was on the Obama administration’s wish list from the start. Shortly after winning the election in November, Obama signaled his desire to make the meeting, and his State Department worked hard to craft an outcome document it could support. At the United Nations, however, “change” does not come easy to those who harbor anti-Semitic views.

Had things gone their way, Team Obama hoped to send the President from the Summit of the Americas to “Durban II,” as it is called here. Meet-ups with Daniel Ortega and Hugo Chavez in Trinidad could have been followed by a chance encounter in Geneva with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — cementing Obama’s “Axis of Affection.”

But Obama’s much anticipated group hug with the United Nations will have to wait. But why? If Obama — who has bowed to the Saudi king and rubbed elbows with Ortega and Chavez — doesn’t want to be seen in the company of these U.N. miscreants, what must they be up to?

In two words — bureaucratic terrorism.The conference is dominated by the 57-member  Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and is used largely as a forum to promote hatred of Israel. The gathering in Geneva is a follow-on to the World Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa in 2001 — a conference which found the American and Israeli delegates walking out in protest. It was described by the late Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress, as “the most sickening and unabashed display of hate for Jews I had seen since the Nazi period.”

This week’s Durban Review Conference reaffirms the discredited text of the 2001 meeting, and adds an element which promotes censorship of speech that is deemed critical of Islam. In the most recent version of this conference’s outcome document, one section states in part:

“…all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial     discrimination as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts shall be declared        offence punishable by law, in accordance with the international obligations of States…”

This text is part of a continuing effort by the OIC and the U.N. to prevent “the defamation of religions.” The only religious criticism they wish to stop, however, is that of Islam. We’ve all seen the vitriolic and often violent response of Muslims to prominent criticisms, or perceived criticisms, of Islam or Mohammed. The Durban Review Conference aims to codify that attitude into international law.

While a focus on “Islamophobia” is a major part of the conference, there are other troubling aspects. The text of the outcome document also “invites governments and their law enforcement agencies to collect reliable information on hate crimes in order to strengthen their efforts to combat racism.”

As we saw last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security doesn’t need any more encouragement to collect information on its own citizens.

As in all U.N. gatherings, the United States is a target of criticism at the Durban Review conference which condemns “colonialism” and “foreign occupation” — diplomatic epithets often hurled America’s way in the General Assembly. In the U.S., anybody expressing concern about our open borders policy has been targeted by the Left as racist and hateful — a charge which the delegates of Durban II are happy to encourage. The UN urges nations to “prevent manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance at country border entry areas, in particular vis-à-vis immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers…”

The Durban Review Conference is another example of hypocrisy in action at the United Nations. President Obama was right to stay away from the United Nations this week. I wish that were his instinct toward the institution as a whole. Unfortunately, I suspect that Obama’s absence this week will only make his heart grow fonder of the U.N.