Smith unhappy with Durban II progress – Australia unlikely to attend

April 15, 2009 by J-Wire Staff
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Stephen Smith, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs is unimpressed with the revisions made so far to the Durban II anti-racism Conference text…and has said that Australia is unlikely to attend.

Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith

Currently in Indonesia, the Foreign Minister told a media conference in Perth before his departure that, if the Conference looks like being a re-run of Durban I, then “Australia won’t be there.”

He told journalists that he will wait until developments unfold this week as the Preparatory Review Conference attempts to resolve issues about the text before making his final judgement. He said: “But as things stand, I remain gravely concerned about the state of the text and about the prospects of the Conference being a repeat of the earlier one. Unless something qualitively changes, it is most unlikely that Australia will attend the Conference.”

His comments have underwhelmed Robert Goot, President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. He told J-Wire: “We were given to believe that a final decision would be made after the revision group’s meeting which took place between April 6 and 9. The announced attendance at the Conference of the Iranian President speaks loudly for the sham and travesty that Durban II will doubtless become.”

ECAJ President Robert Goot

ECAJ President Robert Goot

The earlier Conference Minister Smith referred to was held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. It degenerated into a virulent antisemitic and ant-Israel harangue causing many countries to walk out.

The Durban II Review Conference is scheduled to open in Geneva on April 20.

The Australian Human Rights Commission is an independent government body. Commissioner Tom Calma has announced he will attend and is intending to raise the issue of the Howard Government’s suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act during the Northern Territory interventions in 2007.

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