United Nations World Conference Against Racism (WCAR)
The conference is called under the mandate of United Nations General Assembly resolution 61/149 (passed in 1996) with a mandate to review the implementation of the The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action from the 2001 World Conference Against Racism which took place in Durban, South Africa.
The conference was fully boycotted by Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, and the United States. The Czech Republic, which held the presidency of the European Union at the time of the conference, left on the first day and boycotted the remainder of the conference, and twenty-three European Union countries partially boycotted the conference by sending low-level delegations.
The western countries expressed concerns that the conference would be used to promote anti-Semitism and laws against blasphemy perceived as contrary to the principles of free speech; and that the conference would not deal with discrimination against homosexuals. European countries also have criticized the meeting for focusing heavily on the West and ignoring problems of racism and intolerance in the developing world.
Controversy also surrounded the attendance of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the conference due to his past statements on Israel and the Holocaust. On the first day of the conference, Ahmadinejad, who was the only head of state in attendance, made a speech condemning the Israeli government as “totally racist.”
When he began to speak about Israel, the delegates from all European Union countries left the conference room, while a number of other delegates who remained behind applauded the Iranian President. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed dismay at both the boycotts and the speech.
Ahmadinejad speech: full text, BBC News
- Members of the Human Rights Council that voted in favor of the conference, that has yet to make a statement:
Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, People’s Republic of China, Djibouti, Ecuador, Gabon, Ghana, Guatemala, Jordan, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Uruguay.
- Members of the Human Rights Council that voted against/abstained of the conference, that had yet to make a statement:
Finland, Japan, South Korea, Ukraine.
- Nine countries are boycotting the conference entirely:
Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, United States.
- One nation broke off its attendance after the first day, joining the boycott:
Czech Republic (holding the EU presidency at the time)
- The conference’s Bureau of the Preparatory Committee:
Argentina, Armenia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic (left), Estonia, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Libya, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Turkey.
- Confirmed attendance (non-preparatory committee members):
East Timor, France, Ireland, Lesotho, Montenegro, Nigeria, Switzerland, Togo, United Kingdom, Vatican City, Zambia.