Plans to hold the United Nations’ “World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance” (WCAR) were first formulated in 1997 by the UN General Assembly in Resolution 52/111. Attended by delegates from 160 countries, the Conference was held from August 31 through September 7, 2001. Its agendas were grouped under the following themes:
Theme 1: Sources, cause, forms and contemporary manifestations of racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance
Theme 2: Victims of racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance
Theme 3: Measures of prevention, education and protection aimed at the eradication of racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance at the national, regional and international levels
Theme 4: Provision for effective remedies, recourses, redress, [compensatory] and other measures at the national, regional and international levels
Theme 5: Strategies to achieve full and effective equality, including international cooperation and enhancement of the United Nations and other international mechanisms in combating racism, racial discrimination, [and] xenophobia
The Conference featured, most prominently, an NGO Forum that focused a disproportionate share of its attention and condemnation on the policies and alleged transgressions of Israel and the United States. Members of the Palestinian Committee for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, also known by the acronym LAW (Land And Water), were on the Conference steering committee and played a key role in narrowing the focus of both the NGO Forum and the overall Conference mainly to Israel, America, and Jews.
At the NGO Forum, Jewish delegates were verbally and physically harassed. The Forum featured sales of the 19th Century anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as well as numerous displays of flyers that asked (approvingly), “WHAT IF HITLER HAD WON?” Featured speakers repeatedly compared contemporary Israel to apartheid South Africa. The Forum culminated in the production of a WCAR NGO Forum Declaration, which was finalized on September 3, 2001 and made the following assertions:
“[T]he Palestinian people are … currently enduring a colonialist, discriminatory military occupation that violates their fundamental human right of self-determination.”
“[T]he Palestinian people have the clear right … to resist such occupation by any means provided under international law until they achieve their fundamental human right to self-determination and end the Israeli racist system.”
“[A] basic ‘root cause’ of Israel’s on going and systematic human rights violations, … acts of genocide and practices of ethnic cleansing is a racist system, which is Israel’s brand of apartheid.”
Israel has demonstrated “a continued refusal to allow the Palestinian refugees to exercise their right as guaranteed by international law to return to their homes of origin,” and thus “has destabilized the entire region and has impacted on world peace and security.”
“[T]he Israeli systematic perpetration of racist crimes including war crimes, acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing” should come to an “immediate end.”
Israel’s “alien domination and subjugation with the denial of territorial integrity amounts to colonialism, which denies the fundamental rights of self-determination, independence and freedom of Palestinians.”
“Israel’s brand of apartheid [is] a crime against humanity [that] has been characterized by separation and segregation, dispossession, restricted land access, denationalization, ‘bantustanization’ and inhumane acts.”
“[T]he Israeli state war on civilians” includes “military attacks, torture, arbitrary arrests and detention, the imposition of severe restrictions on movement, … and systematic collective punishment, including economic strangulation and deliberate impoverishment, denial of the right to food and water, the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to housing, the right to education and the right to work.”
Having made the foregoing charges against Israel, the NGO Forum called for all participating nations to help bring about: (a) “an increased awareness of the root causes of … Israel’s belligerent occupation and systematic human rights violations as a racist, apartheid system, through relevant UN agencies working closely with international civil society networks to widely disseminate information including educational packs for schools and universities, films and publications”; (b) “the launch of an international anti-Israeli Apartheid movement as implemented against South African Apartheid through a global solidarity campaign network … and [an end to] the conspiracy of silence among states, particularly the European Union and the United States”; (c) “a policy of complete and total isolation [by the international community] of Israel as an apartheid state as in the case of South Africa, which means the imposition of mandatory and comprehensive sanctions and embargoes, the full cessation of all links (diplomatic, economic, social, aid, military cooperation and training) between all states and Israel”; and (d) “condemnation of those states who are supporting, aiding and abetting the Israeli Apartheid state and its perpetration of racist crimes against humanity including ethnic cleansing, acts of genocide.”
The secondary agenda of the WCAR was to extract Western cash as compensation for slavery, the slave trade, colonialism, and the vaguely defined “economic and political exclusion” of various peoples. Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi inadvertently revealed a central purpose of the Durban Conference when he offered his opinion on who should pay reparations for slavery: “The whites must pay.” American NGOs likewise supported reparations from Western nations for the historic transatlantic slave trade and developed resolutions that condemned only the West for its past slaving activities.
The NGOs further endorsed a resolution denouncing free market capitalism as a “fundamentally flawed system.”
Because of the aforementioned, disproportionate attacks on Israel and the United States, both of those countries pulled their delegations from the WCAR. Australia and Canada each made statements accusing the Conference of “hypocrisy.” The Candian statement read, in part, as follows: “Canada is still here today only because we wanted to have our voice decry the attempts at this Conference to de-legitimize the State of Israel and to dishonor the history and suffering of the Jewish people. We believe, and we have said in the clearest possible terms, that it was inappropriate — wrong — to address the Palestinian-Israel conflict in this forum. We have said, and will continue to say, that anything — any process, any declaration, any language — presented in any forum that does not serve to advance a negotiated peace that will bring security, dignity and respect to the people of the region is — and will be — unacceptable to Canada.”
In April 2009, a second WCAR (commonly referred to as “Durban II) was held in Geneva, Switzerland.