UK and Australia oppose pro-Durban UNHRC resolution

The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva has voted 32-10 to approve a pro-Durban resolution today.

Ten members opposed the motion, including the UK and Australia.

In a joint statement on behalf of the United Kingdom and Australia delivered to the assembly this morning, Simon Manley, the UK’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, said: “Racism should be tackled in all its forms and, regrettably, for far too long, the UN has downplayed the scourge of antisemitism. This must end. The UK is clear that we will not attend future iterations of the Durban Conference while concerns over antisemitism remain.”

“We do not agree with the multiple references to the Durban Conference, given the historic concerns over antisemitism. And we can not accept the references to the Durban Review Conference or the positive language welcoming the recent commemorative event in New York.”

He then called for a vote on the resolution, which resulted in a 31-10 victory.

Foreign secretary Liz Truss said she was “pleased” the UK and Australia’s decision was supported by other states, in a statement posted to Twitter this morning:

The UK, Germany and nine other UN member states boycotted the Durban IV Conference held at New York’s UN General Assembly last month over historic concerns regarding antisemitism.

The resolution passed today and September’s conference largely focused on racial prejudice against people of African descent, but reaffirmed support for the controversial 2001 Durban Declaration.

Anne Herzberg, a Legal Advisor at NGO Monitor, an Israel-based watchdog noted, “Jews and Israelis were blocked from participating in preparatory meetings held in Tehran ahead of the 2001 Durban conference. The conference itself was marked by antisemitic imagery including flyers with a photo of Hitler asking, ‘What if I had won? There’d be no Israel’ and Jews were reportedly blocked from attending some NGO events. Israel and the US walked out of the event and only last minute scrambling by former High Commissioner Mary Robinson prevented a full walk-out from the European Delegations. The resulting Durban Declaration singled out Israel from all other conflicts.

“Today’s actions by the UK blocking consensus adoption of the HRC resolution on Durban, and voting no, along with 9 other countries, was a courageous rejection of UN-sponsored antisemitism. They should be commended.”