Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Australia still only threatens withdrawal from Durban 2

From an email from Robert Goot, presdent of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, 15/4/09:

Australian Foreign Minister’s statement made on 13 April in Perth

Has the Government made a decision on whether it will attend the UN racism conference?

Foreign Minister STEPHEN SMITH
As I said to the Parliament, when the Parliament was in session: if Australia believes that the proposed 2nd Durban Review Conference, to be held in Geneva from the 24th of April, looks like being a re-run of Duban I, the first Duban Review Conference, then Australia wont be there.

We have been giving the Conference processes every opportunity to make a judgement about that. Over the last week, the chair of the so-called ‘working group’, the Russian Chair, Mr Boychenko, was meeting with the working group seeking to resolve issues about the text. I continue to have very grave concerns about the text, and continue to have very grave concerns about the prospect of Australia attending.

The working group moves in the course of this week into what is called a Preparatory Review Conference, and I will see how developments unfold in the course of the Preparatory Review Conference before making a judgement. But as things stand, I remain very gravely concerned about the state of the text, I remain very gravely concerned about prospects of the Durban Review Conference being a repeat of the earlier conference, and I expect in the next week or so to be able to make a final judgement on Australia’s attendance or not

Frankly, unless something qualitatively changes, or something qualitatively different occurs, it is most unlikely that Australia will attend the Durban Review Conference in Geneva starting on the 24th of April.

RESPONSE from Executive Council of Australian Jewry
Responding to the statement made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on 13 April 2009, The President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry said:

“It is very disappointing that the Foreign Minister has once again delayed the decision on Australia’s attendance at Durban 11, which commences in Geneva on 20 April 2009 and not 24 April as the Foreign Minister stated.. The ECAJ was given to believe that the Government would make a decision no later than the conclusion of the Intersessional Group’s meeting which took place in Geneva from 6- 9 April 2009.. The Foreign Minister also gave us to believe that the decision would not be made at the last minute nor on the eve of the conference, but his latest statement suggesting that he “expects in the next week or so to be able to make a final judgement on Australia’s attendance or not “, means that the Government’s decision will indeed be made at the last minute and on the eve of the conference.

The Foreign Minister stated that he was interested in seeing the Boychenko draft outcomes document before making a decision. The Boychenko draft was produced in late March, and by reaffirming the Durban 1 Action Plan which singled out Israel for criticism alone amongst the world’s nations, clearly did not satisfy the Government’s own test for attendance.

Nor did the Intersessional meeting last week advance the position at all, on the contrary seasoned observers regard its deliberations as going from bad to worse. Having regard to the Government’s own standards, we expected Australia to announce last week that it would withdraw from Durban 11.

The fact that the Iranian President who presides over a regime renowned for its abuse of human rights, has announced that he will attend the Durban 11 conference which is focused on anti racism and promoting the rights of minorities including women, speaks loudly for the sham and travesty that Durban 11 will doubtless become.

The ECAJ wrote to the Foreign Minister on 13 April 2009 reminding him of the Government’s previously expressed position on the timing for announcing a decision and once again on behalf of the Australian Jewish community, strongly urging him to announce without any further delay, Australia’s decision to not attend Durban 11”
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