Delegates attending the UN’s the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Geneva, unofficially called “Durban II,” walked-out as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered yet another of his infamous hate-filled speeches. At a conference that was supposed to demonstrate, in the word’s of BBC correspondent Imogen Foulkes the “shining example of what the UN is supposed to do best – uniting to combat injustice in the world,” the leader of one of the world’s most repressive regimes lashed out in his usual delusional manner.
Mr. Ahmadinejad, the only major leader to attend the conference, said Jewish migrants from Europe and the United States had been sent to the Middle East after World War II “in order to establish a racist government in the occupied Palestine”. He continued, through an interpreter: “And in fact, in compensation for the dire consequences of racism in Europe, they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive racist regime in Palestine.”
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner had warned that French delegates would walk out if the forum was used as a platform to attack Israel. Speaking after the walkout, he said: “The defense of human rights and the fight against all types of racism are too important for the United Nations not to unite against all forms of hate speech, against all perversion of this message. Faced with attitudes like that which the Iranian president has just adopted, no compromise is possible.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed dismay at the boycotts, and the speech, saying Mr Ahmadinejad had used his speech “to accuse, divide and even incite”. Mr. Ban’s shock is surely feigned. If he bothered to read the front page of the New York Times – or any of a dozen other newspapers – he would surely have seen this farce developing. By allowing it to play out, he is culpable in its perpetration.
The Secretary General has so far delivered an insipid and uninspiring performance in his role as the world’s premier diplomat. He has allowed dictators and fanatics to maintain their grip on UN institutions, much as his predecessor Kofi Annan did. By allowing this sad performance to take place, he allows the institution to slide deeper into irrelevance and infamy.