Holocaust last stumbling block in UN declaration

19th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

Iran wants a paragraph calling for the Holocaust -- when Nazi Germany killed six million European Jews during World War II -- never to be forgotten to be linked to another that refers to past injustices, said an Iranian diplomat involved in the negotiations.

Geneva -- The Holocaust remains the sole issue blocking agreement on the final declaration of a UN conference on racism that opens Monday in Geneva, diplomats said.

"There is just one lingering point, the question of the Holocaust. All the others are settled," a Western diplomat told AFP Thursday after talks between ambassadors to prepare for the five-day Durban Review Conference.

Iran wants a paragraph calling for the Holocaust -- when Nazi Germany killed six million European Jews during World War II -- never to be forgotten to be linked to another that refers to past injustices, said an Iranian diplomat involved in the negotiations.

But European diplomats dismissed that suggestion as "unacceptable", as they succeeded in rejecting two other thorny issues -- the notion of a direct link between foreign occupation and racism, and the stereotyping of religions.

Both references -- regarded by European UN member nations as "red lines" that would determine their presence at the conference -- were deemed too explicit towards Israel and the defamation of religious faiths.

In the revised draft, "foreign occupation" was shifted to another part of the declaration where it would no longer pose a problem, while the reference about stereotyping will be about individuals, not religions, a diplomat said.

The Durban Review Conference will review progress and assess the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted in the South African city in 2001.

That declaration aimed to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, but the United States and Israel walked out over a push to link Zionism with racism.

Negotiators in Geneva are working against the clock to finalise a fresh declaration, with urgency added by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's stated intention to attend the proceedings next week.

AFP/Expatica

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