UN adopts declaration at racism conference

April 21st, 2009 - 11:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Geneva, April 21 (DPA) The member states of the UN attending the Durban Review Conference against racism adopted by consensus the final outcome document Tuesday, calling on states to fight intolerance and discrimination.
The adopted text is the same as what 189 states agreed on at the end of last week.

It is a slimmed down version of earlier texts, from which the most controversial sections and phrases were removed. It contains no mention of Israel and does not directly limit free speech by limiting critique of religions, as some had feared it would include.

Since Friday, when the text was agreed on, Germany, the US and other countries pulled out of the conference over the weekend, citing various reasons, such as concern that the language used at the conference would be overly critical of Israel.

A divisive speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Monday, which attacked Israel, caused a protest walkout by European Union (EU) members and prompted speedy condemnations from the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The Czech Republic pledged not to return to the conference after the speech, though other EU members did and were present during the adoption, except those who had boycotted from the onset.

In all, UN officials said at least 140 states were present to adopt the document by consensus, though it would only be officially confirmed as the final outcome document at the conference’s last session Friday.

The Durban Review Conference taking place in Geneva in Switzerland is the follow-up to an anti-racism conference which took place in the South African city in 2001.

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